Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Peek at My Sketchbook

I've noticed lately, that I have a few "go to" poses and expressions, and that to do anything different is a bit of a struggle. I read a lot of art blogs, and look at a lot of pictures, but reading and looking (while inspiring and all...) only take you so far. DOING is what allows us to learn, and to grow.
This first set of sketches are 30 second to 2 minute studies from photos. All of them were done at the Gesture Drawing Tools site, which features Male and Female figures (both clothed and not) as well as animals, and also a handy timer that changes the pictures when the time is up. No cheating, ha-ha-ha! The tree at the bottom, I found on Flickr, using their "Explore Interesting" feature. There's always at least one picture worth spending a few minutes drawing per page. I think I spent about 5 minutes on this one.
The second page are two twenty minute drawings I did at a figure drawing night at the St Louis Artist's Guild. I think I actually spent more like 30 minutes on the left one, refining it during the break between poses.

I was reading an article on Dresden Codak's blog "Indistinguishable From Magic" last nite about the importance of developing a visual vocabulary. Here is a link to the post, because he put it far better than I can. For those of you who only want to read one wordy blog post tonite, he talks about Draftsmanship, Clarity of expression, Style is Grounded in Realism, and Visual Flexibility = Mental Flexibility. The whole article is great, but something he said in the last section really hit home for me:

"Often, being able to draw new things presents us with ideas we’d otherwise never consider. Also, simply being comfortable with drawing more things means you’re instinctively more likely to try new things..."and then he goes on to say"... without an artist having the prerequisite drawing experience, he or she may not get the idea to set a scene in a 17th century pirate cove rather than a college dorm room. It’s not so much that a less well-rounded artist couldn’t draw these things, it’s that he or she is less likely to even consider it, as it’s outside the comfort zone."

So what does this mean to me as an illustrator and dreamer of dreams? Something I've known for a long time, but that I get lazy about. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and without new stuff coming in, new stuff can't go out.

I thought of this clip from the king of queens while I was writing, and the same principle applies. It also serves as a warning. Draw from life, or at least from photos. Trying to learn to draw from a cartoon limits us to just those forms, and without understanding why those forms work, we can't move forward and develop our own styles. Poop in, poop out. Ha-ha-ha!

Until next time, take care and be good!
Your friend,


Nance said...

I feel like a lurker in this artist's world...or, at least, I could feel that way. Turns out, I don't. You've written eloquently about a process that everyone can relate to: the stifling effect that repetition has on creativity.

Good for you. Stretch-a-sketch.

Jess said...

Wow, awesome blog! :D

Red Herring Jeff said...

Nance- Thank you so much for the kind comment. I often feel like I'm just rambling, and it's good to hear that my thoughts are at least a little coherent. Ha-ha-ha!

Jess- Thanks! I'd looked at the blog that you were sharing with Katie Green a couple of months ago, and I can't imagine why I wouldn't have checked out your personal one as well. Really fantastic work over there. Thanks for stopping in!