Friday, April 15, 2016

Evening Sketching is Not My Thing

I learned something very important one evening not long ago.  

As much as I love sketching, doing it at the end of the day, and especially at the end of the week, is not a good idea.  I need to be very careful to schedule my sketching sessions earlier in the day.  This is not an excuse--I am really glad I learned it.  I figured if I had a busy day and needed to draw at the end of it, no big deal.  Nope.  It IS a big deal.  I was so happen to finally sketch when I sat down to it.  BUT, I quickly discovered that I was really battling to stay focused.  I felt as if the stamina I always have earlier in a day had just evaporated.

I stuck with it, though, and did about 45 minutes by the time I stopped.  I wanted to see if I could shake it off, settle down, find a different sort of groove.

The tools I used:  Strathmore 500mm paper, Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, two colors of watercolor (IN blue and Burnt Sienna)

When I started, happy to finally be scribbling a bit, I wanted to mess around with value and shadow shape work with the watercolors.  It's dark here at this time of day (I did these in late February), and I sat in the semi-dark in a room with only two lights:  the floor lamp and the computer screen.  It made for some interesting and stark lighting on the person at the computer.  I think I was SO interested in the shadow shapes that I blew proportions (in #1).  I am pleased with the angle of the arm, and the light edges on the left of the shirt, face and hand. 

Then I decided that because I felt really very tired, tonight was maybe not a good time to practice fine details, but bigger, looser shapes.  So I decided to do the same scene again, but this time, straight with the watercolors on a waterbrush (#2).  I discovered that sitting in the dark corner, as I was, I couldn't discern the color of my watercolor mixes!  Another lesson learned.  But in this second sketch, I got some other things more accurate--the shape of the shadow and reflected light on the table top.  The shadow underneath the table on the wall and floor.  Also, when squinting about values, I saw that the legs (in black pants) and the dark side of the black stool really formed one big shadow shape, so I drew it that way (as opposed to drawing "leg" and "stool" as I had in the first sketch).  To my surprise, I got the proportions better on the person, and a sense of the lighting as well.

I still had some time left in my 30 minute session, so I decided to go back to the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, but with the intention of mimicking the watercolor--not sketching details so much as laying in big accurate colors of shadow (#3).  Nik was asleep on my bed, so I turned on the overhead light as the only light and got some terrific shadow shapes on him.  He is essentially all black (dark brown with a copper brindle), so I ignored local color and just did a notan sort of thing to capture him.  His eyes are open, as he watched me the whole time. 

I learned a great deal with this round of practice about my process.  I'm pleased that when I realized I was "too tired" for one sort of sketch, I didn't quit or despair, but found a different set of skills I could practice. 

I find that I really want to get better at people.  I feel like my observation and rendering skills at animals have leapt ahead of my skills with people.   I struggle with proportions in people.  I am wondering if in my head I'm still naming things, or trying to draw what I think  I see rather than what I do see?  I'm going to work on this more.  Perhaps return to the colored pencils, as I liked them a lot for correcting and refining.

Plus, I really don't want to get all stuck in details.  I want to generally indicate people, without having to draw details.

I got a big book of Rembrandt drawings out of the library.  And found a local museum with some Asian art on exhibit. Can't wait to spend time studying that (and the people in it).

This post comes from work I did in a class with Roz Stendahl, 
Drawing Practice:  Drawing Live Subjects in Public.  I recommend it!

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