Today I decided to use my Pentel color brush pen to do a portrait of the same model we had last week. However, I wanted to use airbrush ink instead of the original Pentel brush ink, which comes in cartridges (as part of the pen).
⇧ Undersketch of the model in 2H lead. The instructor gave me a few hints, because ink knows no mercy.
⇧ Inking, if you’re not used to it, is like swimming while you’re drowning. There’s no undo button, few opportunities to hide or repair mistakes. It’s now or never, no regrets.
I couldn’t load enough ink on it for the large size of paper I was using. Next time I should use a regular brush and India ink. It’s a pain to clean a regular brush, but the result can be so much more satisfying.
This time I wanted to draw 4 portraits from different perspectives, so I could experience the problems with each perspective and possibly find out how to solve those. Normally we get 6 hours to draw a model. Now I took 30 minutes, effectively drawing 12 times as fast as my peers. As to be expected, each drawing was more of a sketch. The 3/4 view was by far the hardest to do.
I noticed that I need to get closer to the model. I let my fellow student push me to the back of the class. No more, I say.
Currently, I’m stuck at page 5 of How To Drawing Animals by Jack Hamm.
I’m experiencing what Jack Hamm is hinting at, namely that you need to have a solid experience with the animal in question if you want to draw it believably. You need to know what impression its presence gave to you, not in words, but in images, as a mental picture of the animal.
There are strong similarities in the body plans of all four-legged animals, but there are also stark differences. You need to have intimate knowledge of the masses of each animal and how those mases move while the animal moves.
The method mentioned in this book is not a replacement for many hours of drawing the actual animal, by which I mean, having the animal in front of you, so you can experience its being. You can’t fake your way out of this one.
Even so, I’m trying to understand how to interpret photos, because I’m not able to visit zoos, farms, etc. at a regular basis. Most of this would be observing, not drawing, because you learn a lot by just looking, absorbing the look and feel of the animal, so you can reproduce that in your initial sketch. After this sketch, you can look at your reference for adjustments, but the basis for you drawing should be hours upon hours of observation.
Even so, I like the bear, although it’s totally based on (non-informed) imagination. I guess something stuck in this brain after more than 50 years of looking.
To give myself a challenge, I decided to draw a distorted outline based on a photo of the character Lionel Logue from King’s Speech. This was to both try to sharpen my skills and to experience for myself that you can have likeness despite lack of realism, based on pareidolia (seeing shapes and forms where there are none).
This means you can stylize (read: develop a personal style) a portrait without breaking the unwritten rule of likeness with the original (the model). This example isn’t taking it very far, though. Baby steps.
The interesting thing about this kind of stylization is that it makes the observer’s mind work harder to see who is in the image than a photograph or a photorealistic image would. In effect, it makes the observer care more about the image than a perfect reproduction of a photo.
This is nothing new, of course. Artists have taken parts of what they saw and liked and put that in their drawings and paintings, while leaving out (or subduing) what they didn’t like so much. It is what makes art art. However, it keeps amazing me how far you can deviate from reality and still have an idea of what the original looked like.
A next step could be to only put onto a canvas what you like about the original and forget about likeness altogether, in other words, going an abstract route. However, this is breaking the contract with the observer, who can’t rely on having it look like something. He or she has to become an artist him- or herself in order to understand what is displayed in front of them. Familiar patterns are gone and only the preference of the artist remains in an abstract piece. It is stylization driven to its most extreme, where likeness is no longer required. In fact, likeness is completely absent in an abstract work of art.
I haven’t seen The King’s Speech, but that doesn’t stop me from using imagery from the movie as my subjects for improving my drawing skills (or painting skills in this case).
The trick is the use broad strokes at first for the large areas, and ever smaller strokes for the details. Because I’m not too comfortable with drawing faces, I made an underdrawing with the pencil tool first and painted in a new layer underneath it.
After I had uploaded the image, I saw that the color impression on my Mac is quite different from that on the iPad. The iPad has no calibration, while the iMac obviously has. Even so, the digital painting has a fresh look and good plasticity. The rendering could be better, but that will come with practice.
I’m hoping that once I’m fast enough on the iPad, I can use it to do some fast prototypes of a painting before I paint it. That will probably be after the Summer break in portrait class at my local community college.
⇧ After a two-week break we had a new model. Instead of immediately putting a face on the paper, as my fellow artists did, I decided to play a little with the face, so it became less threatening to me. It also gave me an opportunity to get familiar with the face in a playful manner.
⇧ Each session consists of two hours, with a half hour coffee break in between. However, the model had another engagement (work), so we only had 30 minutes after the coffee break. Time to get more serious and put as much of her on paper as I could.
Using a tutorial from Jack Hamm’s book “How To Draw Animals” I sketch a simplified cow in side view.
⇧ In “How To Draw Animals” by Jack Hamm, he teaches us to draw animals in side view with a bunch of rectangles. It isn’t about the rectangles, but about having a way to see the structure of the animal, of all four legged animals, and apply that knowledge to a specific animal. That way you don’t have to guess so much and can spend more time on drawing. After all, the more you draw, the better you will get, especially if you pay attention to how you draw.
⇧ Here I’ve used a photo of a cow and applied the rectangles to it, before dealing with the exact shape of the animal. Getting the parts in the correct positions and at the right size is always a problem when you’re not familiar with a subject. Having a method to roughly estimate the structure of an animal is a handy trick to have in your bag of artist’s tricks.
This drawing was recorded as a video on my iPod Touch and uploaded to my Shorties Ustream channel.