Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hattie and the Squirrel Make a Scene

I went to my front room (a tiny adventure) to watch my cat, Hattie, watch the squirrels at the feeders. It felt great to sit and watch the cat watching.  Cats are great models for being in the moment.

This got me thinking about seeing, and how my eye moved around the scene.  How could I move a viewer's eye like this?

I wanted to work on is a sense of the page as a whole composition, and leaving white space.  I made a promise to myself to not feel like I'm "wasting paper" if I leave more white space.  You'll see below I really did that with the squirrel sketch and I am much happier with the look of the page.

I selected these subjects because I knew I had to work from home today and because I liked the contrast of this scene.  Black cat, colorful squirrel.  Indoors and outdoors both included.  Immobile cat and fast moving (!) squirrel.   Some notan with the indoors being backlit and the bright white snowy outside.

Today I used a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, a Pentl Aquash light black brush, and two colors of watercolor (Burnt Sienna and In Blue).

For the image of Hattie watching the squirrel, and thinking about contrast and moving the viewer's eye I tried to draw the eye to her watching the squirrel.  She is solid black, so while I initially left her white with just some dark spots hatched in, I didn't feel that it directed the eye enough, so I used the softer tone of the Aquash to shade her and see what happened.  I kind of like it.  I left stronger contrasted lights and darks in her fur near her head, in hopes it would point us toward what she was looking at.  I left the squirrel, the object of her gaze (and ultimately ours) in broad strokes.  In the end, I couldn't quite tell if the stronger visual pull was the squirrel on the feeder because he is so contrasty, or if you looked at the cat first and then the squirrel.  But overall, I like the sense of scene.  

In the second picture of just the squirrel, I worked hard to create strong contrast areas around his eye.  I placed his patterned face next to the dark block of seed not only because that was his position (at least occasionally; he moved a lot), but because I thought it might aid in the contrast and drawing our eye to his.  I am really pleased with his eye.  And the subtle shadow across his butt--I think this is from the overhanging shepherd's hook, which is not in the sketch.

I really enjoyed working with the whole concept of directly the viewer's eye.  This is exactly like a principle (I won't go into it) in creative writing about directing a reader's experience.  And I know how subtle changes can have huge impact in that. 

Art brings amazement in the seeing, the creating, and in the product--no matter what!

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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