Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Using TV Sports to Practice Humans in Motion

I love the Olympics.

Lots of reasons.  I enjoy watching a bunch of sports I know nothing about.  I like watching elite performers do their thing.  I love the fact that I can turn on the TV at any time and find something to watch that won't scare the bejeezus out of me.

This past Olympics, I found another reason to enjoy the event:  an opportunity to practice sketching people in motion.  Fast motion.  FAST!

But, the great thing about most sports, I learned, is that if you watch long enough, most athletes return to the same basic stance over and over.  Maybe not in a 10 second run, but in heat after heat leading up the final 10 second run, you see a lot of the same movement.

So I decided to give it a try.  I used my pen, watched, looked for repeated movements, and tried to capture those.

Each one of the figures in these little sketches is a composite of multiple moments when a particular athlete--or in some cases, several athletes--assumed a position.  I'd try to memorize one or two things, and angle of the head, or the negative shape between the arm and the body, and get that with my pen.  Then I'd sit and wait and watch until I saw the position again.

I only added color and shadow shapes after I had completed the basic outlines of the figures.

This is a marvelous and relaxing way to spend some time, though it does take a lot of time to get a complete image.   It also felt like a fine use of quality watercolor paper scraps that are too small for much of anything else!

This is a completely different way of observing and drawing than my days of very fast scribbling at the county fairs and the zoo!

I hope to get much more practice sketching athletes in motion this fall, watching my nephew play college soccer!

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