Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


2 Comments

Looking Backwards, Moving Forward

In Gillian’s online class, Drawn to Expression, we created a lot of studies. This was new for me. I’ve sketched rough ideas that may or may not turn into a finished piece. But I never created multiple studies of an object or a portrait or a landscape. I definitely see the benefit in this approach.

One aspect of creating the various studies was returning to a particular piece, usually one that was not “precious” or complete, and reworking it. It’s kind of like a do-over. Can you take a “meh” or “blech” piece and make it more appealing? Pretty or beautiful, perhaps? Or, do you push it too far and turn it to mud? (Another lesson in itself for sure.)

I’ve started to think of this as looking backwards to move forward. Here is what I mean.

One Minute Sketches

Early in the class, we created one minute sketches. It was a good way to warm up the memory yarn. These were definitely NOT precious sketches.

Day2.1minutesketches

Here I was learning how to use charcoal, understanding its quirks. These faces aren’t pretty and look quite rough. Returning to this sketch, and without a time limit, I used techniques Gillian taught to redo the faces. Were there characteristics I wanted to emphasize? How could I make the face more expressive?

Going from before to after often involved erasing some portion (or perhaps a lot) of the sketch or maybe using white charcoal or white pastel to obliterate some features.

20 Minute Sketch

It was fun to rework the one minute sketches. Though the size of each face was a bit constraining. So I decided to move on to a larger sketch.

Here is the before image. I got a little carried away with the graphite powder. It’s not a bad sketch. It’s not terribly expressive or loose in the use of lines.

Day2.20minutesketchB

And here is the re-worked sketch.

Day2.20MinuteFaceSketchRedo2

Day2.20MinuteFaceSketchRedoCloseUp2

A lot of erasing, more graphite in other areas, and the addition of blue Conte pastel pencil turned him into a “sentimental gentleman.” (The Red Hot Chili Peppers “Show Me Your Soul” happened to be playing in the studio while I was working on this sketch.)

Family Gets a Do-Over

As happens now and again, I did not get into the studio for more than a week. I felt very out of practice, as if I’d forgotten how to draw. Of course, the best way to get back into the swing of things is to start drawing again. I had been working on a mixed media piece and decided to use the “family” in that piece for my sketching practice.

Here is how my face sketches looked after not being in the studio for more than a week.

Day2ReworkingStudiesFamilyof3_B4

Okay. Maybe they aren’t that bad. I’m amused, however, at how easy it is to revert back to “stiff” lines and wacky proportions. Ironically, the male faces were a bit easier to sketch than the female face. It’s usually the other way around for me because I rarely sketch male faces.

Fortunately, sketching is almost like getting back onto a bike after not riding for a while. Almost.

Here is the family of three after getting a do-over.

Day2ReworkingStudiesFamilyof3_2

All this looking backwards in order to move forward is a great way to document your progress. It helps train your eye to look for what worked and what didn’t work in the study pieces. That, in turn, helps you to create a more finished piece.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Letting Loose with Expression

The fourth and final week of “Drawn to Expression” started this week. I’m still playing catch-up. I’m so inspired by Gillian’s work and challenged by several of her lessons. Which is a good thing. If it were all easy-peasy, I don’t think I’d grow much as an artist.

Expressive Animals

We spend a fair amount of time working with portraits in class. We’ve also been challenged to sketch animals. I can’t quite figure out why sketching an animal seems easier and quicker (in some cases) than human faces. Do you find it easier to sketch an animal versus a human face?

In this first sketch, we were challenged to create the bee without outlining his body. That is, use tone to create the shape. And to imply a sense of movement.

Day4.BeeSketch

Bumblebee (Charcoal, charcoal pencil, graphite powder, Conte crayon, graphite pencil)

The next animal we sketched was an owl. Here the challenge was to create the image of the owl without putting in every.little.detail. Quite a challenge when you’re used to being told to put all the attributes of the model into your drawing.

Day4.OwlSketch

Owl (Charcoal, charcoal pencil, graphite, white gesso, Conte crayon)

Then, just for an extra challenge, we were asked to draw pairs of beetles (or butterflies, or flowers) using both hands. At the same time.

Yep, a piece of charcoal in one hand. And a charcoal pencil in the other hand. Drawing at the same time. Drawing with both sides of your brain.

Talk about a brain cramp.

Keep in mind the idea here is to challenge oneself. These are not meant to be pretty pictures that end up in a gilded frame. These are exercises meant to stretch our creative brains. To loosen us up. And to make us giggle. Which is what happened here.

Day3.TwoatOnce_Beetles

Two At One Time

The pair at the top in the center look like they’re waltzing. Personally, I think they look more like smooshed frogs than beetles.

And Bold Flowers

One of my favorite exercises thus far has been sketching flowers. Some of Gillian’s approaches in helping us become more expressive is to draw fast and then slow. To create and then obliterate. It moves one away from detail and from becoming too precious with the outcome. The hard part is noticing when you are getting “too detailed” or “too precious” with your piece.

We set a timer for this assignment and turned the paper 90 degrees every few minutes. I’ve taken the same approach (turning the paper or canvas 90 degrees) when painting. It really does force you to look at your piece differently. Perhaps finding a spark that you didn’t notice before.

Landscape pose:

Day3.FlowersinVase_Landscape

Flowers (Charcoal pencil, graphite pencil, Conte crayon, soft pastel)

And portrait pose:

Day3.FlowersinVase_Portrait

Oh, not only did I turn the paper 90 degrees every few minutes. I also turned the vase of flowers each time I changed the direction of the paper. So the visual perspective was changing all the time.

I have much more to share but will end here for now. Till next time…