Thursday, April 27, 2017

Concentrating on a Cat (Tim, That Is)

I'm still thinking about my upcoming time at the Center for Cartoon Studies this summer.

In addition to wanting to practice simplified people, I want to practice simplified animals as well.

Happily, my cat Tim is quite willing to pose almost any time.  He loves to be looked at and admired.

This first page shows Tim in a variety of positions--and me messing with a variety of approaches to drawing him and his striped orange and white coat.  How to best depict that with just pen and ink?  How much detail is necessary?  How much can I simplify?

This next page came from an online course I took with Veronica Lawlor, experimenting with mark-making, and drawing without a contour line (which I almost always use).  Not the sort of style I'm used to using, or seeing in comics, but then it reminded me of some of the greats who use a great deal of lines--R Crumb, Roz Chast.  Not that this looks like their work.  But it reminded me to go back and study how they do what they do.

Finally, I share this portrait of Tim, which doesn't look like him at all, but which I did in pen and ink, and then washed with color.  I wanted to play with how I could use color with the pen and ink.  I wanted to see if, knowing I was going to add color, I could have left more ink lines out.  I wanted to play with left whites and with shadows.

Also, this is the first thing I've done in a new Hahnemule Nostalgie sketchbook, which several of my drawing colleagues have raved about.  You can only get them from Wet Paint Art in Minneapolis--they have a lovely online shop as well.  The paper is thick and smooth and the pen glides beautifully on it.  And the watercolor is slow to absorb, so you can move it about.  The paper doesn't buckle.  I look forward to experimenting with it more!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Doodling Characters for Comics

I do a lot of pages of scribbling.

I don't share them all here, because often, they don't make much sense to anyone but me.

But it's been a while since I shared just these crazy practice pages, so I thought I'd share a few from this winter.

I am headed to the Center for Cartoon Studies for two courses this summer (YAY!) and so I'm quite nervous about my weak skills drawing people.  Or humanesque figures.  So lately I've done a lot of pages sort of like these three:  drawing faces and figures in "comic" form based on people I see on TV or in magazines.

How can I simplify?  How do I move their bodies?  How do I make them distinct from one another?

These are the things I'm experimenting with when I draw these sorts of pages.

At the end there, you can see I tossed in a portrait of my dog, Nik.   I think drawing from life, after working hard from my imagination, grounds me.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sinuous Line

In an online class with Veronica Lawlor through Sketchbook Skool, I learned to look a new at what I might normally consider a tangled mess.

She calls such things "sinuous lines."  Much more elegant.

Our mental framework makes a big difference when we encounter the world.  Which we all know, I suppose, but I for one tend to forget.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Drawing Healthy

Before I made the salad, I studied some form.  With shadows.

I used a brush pen.

Fruits and vegetables are kind of amazing, even without color.

This reminds me I need to look more, and more closely.  Creation is a lovely thing.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Buffalo Walks Into a Bar

Went out for pizza and beer, came home with this awesome sketch because:

  1. I had my sketchbook with me.
  2. I agreed to ordering a pitcher instead of single glasses.
  3. An interesting game had just begun on TV.

This was a hard angle for me to capture.  You can see from my scribbling how I screwed up over and over around the nose.  Ah, well.  New page, new drawing.

A good time was had by all.

Well, except maybe for the buffalo.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Practicing the Moose (with a Bonus Owl)

On another trip to Call of the Wild in Gaylord, Michigan, instead of taking my new watercolor sketchbook, I took my tan toned Strathmore sketchbook and a china marker.

This day, I decided to work with the moose exhibit.  I wanted to spend a good hour or so studying the two animals and making fat, gestural marks on the paper.

I find the shape of these animals really fascinating.

I did a bunch of sketches and ran into my usual problem:  spacing.  I always run off the page. 

In this next one you can see me restating the lines in an attempt to get the whole animal on the page.  For some reason this is just so darned hard for me!

Anyhow, I eventually gave up on that and decided to work on some close-ups of facial structure.  Here is an example:  I am focusing here on that round yet cube shape at the end of the nose.

As my final sketch of the day, now that my eyes and hands felt completely warmed up, I settled into a detail of one eye and a bit of forehead.


Well, I thought that was going to be my last sketch of the day, but on my way out, I passed a barn owl and stopped to scribble something in just a few minutes.  In this one, I actually planned to run off the page.... honest!

I know I say it over and over, but really, I can't describe the wonderful impact this scribbling practice has had on my life.

It takes me out of the house.
It takes me out of my head.
It asks me to look--really look--at the wonderous ways things have been made.
It shows me light and darkness, always together, always pushing each other.
It shows me how wonderful the world is.
It shows me that I can be vulnerable, take risk, fail, and get up to draw again!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

New Sketchbook at Call of the Wild

I recently got a new Stillman and Birn gamma softcovered sketchbook and I've been dying to try it out.  So I started so new pages on a recent trip to Call of the Wild in Gaylord, Michigan.

I also have new stamps I'm trying out.

And of course, I'm still practicing bears.

And eyes.  I keep reading that the key to good animals is to get the eyes.  So I'm working on those a bit more.

So much to learn!  That's the big fun for me about all of this scribbling:  every time I change something, it seems that everything changes!  I loved this paper because nothing bled through (though you can see a bit of translucence in the image above, where the stamped word "bear" is visible.  That is more visible in the scan than on the page).

I loved using my ink pen on this paper too.

My initial impression is that the watercolor soaked in too quickly for me to do much with it other than spot color.  I was hoping it would work a bit more like watercolor paper, but it didn't.

More to come in this journal!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

iPad Sketching at the Outdoor Discovery Center

I am lucky to have a wonderful Outdoor Discovery Center within 30 miles of my home, where they welcome sketchers!

I visited one day to practice bears (you'll know from some of my previous posts that I have struggled with bears) and to practice working on  my iPad Pro.

I love my iPad pro, but the last time I went out and sketched with it, it got too heavy on my arm.  So this time, I took a folding stool and was able to prop it on my lap.

I spent about two hours sketching just this one display, from the same angle.  But I drew the bear head multiple times.  Here are a few.

I loved the challenge of getting the anatomy of the head from this upward angle.  It's one I haven't had a chance to work with before.

This bear is in a display with a mountain lion, so it wasn't long before I had to draw the cat as well.

Having worked on close ups of each, I then attempted them both together.  You can see that I worked first in a thinner line, then went back over it in a thicker line to restate the lines I liked best.  This is how I work in a regular sketchbook sometimes as well.  Though I could have erased the earlier exploratory sketch lines from the iPad, I didn't.  I like the look.

Next I decided it would be fun to duplicate the sketch above, but play with it on a tinted background, something mid-tone, so that I could play with putting in highlights.  You can see below I had begun to mess with adding whites.

Finally, I added flat areas of color.  My goal here was not to make it look like a watercolor or colored pencil piece (which you can do, of course!) but to use the flat tones of color one sees in a lot of comics.  I'm learning more about how that works.

For fun, I went back and did the same with my mountain lion close up.  

I also wanted to be sure I got a full body portrait of the bear, since I ran off the "page" when I did him with the mountain lion.  And I drew him leaving space for some journaling.

Below is the final page of my day.  I haven't done much sketching (just one or two times, that I can remember) where I sat with one model for a long period of time and drew it in many different ways.  I found something very satisfying about the study this let me do.  I felt like I progressed a lot in my understanding of what makes a bear a bear.