Drawing exercises #001
This is a new category. I'll be listing and describing some drawing exercises. After all, if you are a musician, then you practice scales or rifts or something similar. If an athlete, then squats, lunges and other strength exercises help performance. But even thinking about your sport can improve performance. This surprising snippet of information is backed by research as demonstrated in an article stating "Mental practice-based rehabilitation training to improve arm function and daily activity performance in stroke patients."
So this implies that you can get better at drawing just by thinking about drawing. If you are caught in a queue, or on a bus with nothing to do, then close your eyes, and draw or paint a picture in your mind. Choose and mix the colors, arrange the composition, build up an image, make corrections. When you next put pencil to paper, or paint on canvas, you just might find a little new skill or two.
Related to weight, is balance. The left-right composition of a work should usually have similar weight. If you ignore this, then the composition might feel somehow uncomfortable. Bear in mind that there are several ways to create weight, and the two sides of the drawing don't need to use the same technique for good balance. You could use contrast on one side, and focus on the other. It should be an intuitive thing: try it, see if it has a good feeling, adjust, experiment, and finally settle on something. As with any rule in art, bend it and break it if it makes a statement that you need to convey. You might deliberately cause imbalance for a dramatic effect, to control the composition or for some other reason.
Over the last few days, there has been a raging argument in one of the forums about detail and texture. One artist lambasted another about the level of detail that he produced. He said many negative things about art which looked like photographs.
Now the thing is, who is to say that a work produced by hand that looks like another medium is not art? Now I am not talking about realism or photo-realistic work but perhaps hyper-realism. These are works that have mind blowing detail. You can view them from a distance and get the impression that you are looking at a photograph, then move in close and see detail, move closer and see still more detail until you are right on top of the work, and finally see the brush marks or pencil strokes. Do the same with a photograph - any photograph, and you will not get the same experience. Some people find this utterly fascinating, and others do not. That's not a good basis for arguing whether a technique produces a work of art or otherwise.
When an artists creates a hyper-realistic work, there is more detail in the piece than can be captured by any mechanical form. The artists can control what is in and out of focus, what details are left in, and what are excluded, and have total control over dynamic range and distortion. The result is something far more alive than can be seen even in the best photograph.
If any particular artist chooses to spend half a year working on one painting or drawing and creates mind-blowing detail, then people should either explore the resulting work and enjoy it or leave them to get on with it. For someone to target another's work based on some personal weltanschauung, I submit, is wrong.
For oil and acrylic painting, scumbling is a technique to drag a lighter colour over a darker one, where the lighter colour is more opaque. A realistic shadow should be thin, insubstantial, free of significant reflections and bear nothing in particular for your eye to rest upon. The mid tones and highlights are opposite to this. Highlights should be opaque and solid. Scumbling is used to link the two areas of paint.
Obviously, scumbling has a more limited meaning for a graphite drawing but we can exploit the same idea in the following way: Shadows in your drawing will saturate the paper so that little or no tooth shows, and the tone will be flat an uninteresting - just as a shadow should be. The highlights will probably consist of harder graphite, more defined pencil marks, and texture both deliberately drawn and inherited from the paper's tooth. For a graphite drawing, you can use a scumbling technique to join these two areas. Try honing a wooden pencil to a cone-shape and use the flat of the cone to bring the darks into the lights. To do this, hold the pencil at a shallow angle so it has maximum area contact, and gently drag it from dark to light. You can then adjust this effect by using various grades of pencil with a smooth wedge shape to introduce the shadowed area into the highlight. It is important to gradually increase the tone and detail as the transition completes from dark to light.
ed / ennyman\'s postmodern man
This is one of Ed's paintings. I did a full interpretation of it which can be found on my hubpage account. In the article, I describe the visual ambiguity and how it might relate to dyslexia.
Has art gone to the dogs?
This morning, I grabbed a coffee from the local shop to the train station. In there, I found a flier called 'Coffee News'. In that, not surprisingly, were some adverts. I thought, "Hmmm, it's only a single page, local distribution, the ads are probably cheap. I'll take a copy." Of course, something called 'news' needs some editorial content, but as you can imagine, the space allocated was small. In fact there were only three articles with any meat. Hold that a moment, when I say 'meat' think more cocktail bite than porterhouse steak. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see that this publication was popular with the fine arts.
For example, there is the annual gnome convention in the Australian NSW Glenbrook Park. I kid not! The 'Free Weekly Coffee News' has balls. So I read on. There is an art exhibition in Hornsby, represeted by six local artists and properly curated. It's free. I might take a look.
A black lab named Marvin is painting pictures with his tail in Rhode Island.
It continues to explain that the talented pooch is raising money for his local animal shelter. Let's see how this is done:
The dog's wagging tail quickly created a work of art.
G I V E M E A B R E A K ! -- what the heck is going on here? While it's all fine and dandy to raise money for some worthy cause like an animal shelter, and it's fine too to sell paint marks on a peice of paper caused by a wagging dog's tail dipped in paint, let's PLEASE not call it art. This is degrading. This is sad, and this is wrong.
I might not be quite as annoyed but for the fact that there is a local artist scurrying arround producing purile thoughtless incipid 'abstracts' - some of which may be indistinguishable from Marvin's portfolio, and unfortunately seems to be making a few sales. We must remember, such activity is ONLY on the backs of great trail-blazng visionary painters and this sort of trash could not possibly stand on its own.
To be applauded are those who paint abstract, but on the basis of stellar ability in the production of realistic works; those who have learned color, composition, form, texture, vibrancy, hue, impact, weight and balance. There are those who can produce an abstract that makes the viewer weep for unexplained reasons.
To be sure, there is a lot of 'art' out there, and we are happy about that, but perhaps there is a little too much tail-wagging.
Buzz words. (Google it).
Earlier in my book, I mentioned the dangers of using a visual cliché and made a word-based-analogy or two. Here is something to 'go the extra mile' and 'really drive it home':
Too many people say these too many times and there's not enough bandwidth to peel back the onion, but I'm not a bald face liar and I'm not being funny or splitting hairs, so let's not fight the tide. We need to cover all bases so “all your base are belong to us.”
Turn that frown upside down 24/7/365 and heed these words of wisdom as it's time to turn words into action even though actions speak louder than words and a picture is worth a thousand words. Don't take this the wrong way or judge a book by it's cover, but when you're older you'll understand there's more than one way to skin a cat if there's room to swing it.
There's a time and a place for everything. Heads up: Get a grip as (keepin' it real), basically, although it's a dog eat dog world and a survival of the fittest, “guns don't kill”; to be fair, people do. So smile. Keep your hair on. It might never happen. No offence, like, don't get me wrong -- at the end of the day, it's as simple as pie. Let's not beat around the bush, there's too many chiefs and not enough Indians [in the call centre].
Literally everything happens for a reason and money doesn't make you happy. To be perfectly honest, It's all good but it's not my cup of tea and you can have your cake and eat it. With all due respect, comparing apples with apples in this modern world is what it is. Everything happens for a reason. I digress, let's keep the train on the tracks.
What was I saying? For the life of me I can't remember. Throw me a freekin' bone here. Oh yes – sorry about the brain fart, if memory serves: Going forward we should touch base more and more but thinking outside of the box we should take it off line and go the extra mile. We should interface. Let's get my people to call your people but what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. LOL – no love lost: it's a win win value added one horse race on D-day. At this point in time, generation X can't get on the same page (each and every one of them) ROTFLMAO, no use crying over spilled milk - there's plenty more fish in the sea. Bite me.
The worm has turned and for all intents and purposes the grass is always greener on the other side. If all else fails, time is a great healer. From a 50 thousand foot view, it's not that it's not right, it's not even wrong. The only thing that is certain is death and taxes, notwithstanding the cheque's in the mail but don't count your chickens before they hatch. At the very least and at a minimum, it's too little too late, but Jesus loves you. OMG, I know that's scraping the bottom of the barrel but the world is your oyster d'ya know what I mean? Run it up the flagpole and see if someone salutes and while your at it, rub some on the cat and see if it licks it off or put it outside and see if the dog eats it. You could even throw the dog a [freekin'] bone. This is getting tiresome, so let's put it behind us, make good and move forward with all good intentions.
That was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel but I've only scratched surface.
A sketch is a quick drawing. Sketches are useful tools to explore shape, value, contrast, texture and composition. It will be useful to create many rapid sketches of parts and the whole before finally committing to a full rendering. You might sketch someone's ear twenty times from different angles just to get a good feel for the final picture. When you do this, it makes the final rendering easy.
There are two kinds of weight relevant to our drawing. One is a measure of how heavy is the paper. This is measured in gsm. Heavier papers will cost more, but they are likely to cope with rough handling. Light paper will crease easily, and it will not be easy to use an eraser without damaging it. The weight of paper is measured by the physical weight of 500 full-size sheets. It is given in grams or pounds. A typical useful weight for drawing is 220 gsm. (grams)
The other kind of weight is about composition. If you think of a cone standing on its point, then this cone, even though it is just a piece of paper, it is compositionally weighted at the top. When you frame a picture, it is is conventional to put a mat around the picture, and that mat sits in the frame. The border of this frame is often made wider at the bottom to add visual weight. This helps the picture to sit on something solid or visually heavier at the bottom. We expect objects to look heavier at the bottom. Within the picture, we might add more detail in the foreground, and greater contrast, and an overall darker tone to the lower 1/10th to add weight. Sometimes it is desirable to break this rule.
Winnie the Pooh
Q: What do Winnie the Pooh and John the Baptist have in common?
A: They have the same middle name!
Winnie the Pooh illustrations are so cool.
The Many Faces of Ennyman.
I had the good fortune to meet Ed Newman via twitter, then email. I Like his art, and I like his interesting blog. (Check it out) Ed happily agreed to a blog-interview, so here it is:
SpOOk's-art: What are the three most important things/events or people in your life?
Ed Newman: Too many significant events, but I will narrow it to art related.
S-a: What motivates you to maintain your blog?
EN: I initially started the blog to see what blogging was about. I believed that I would learn something by doing it. Based on what I’d read, I got the idea that you had to stay with it to make it worthwhile, so I made an internal pact with myself to stick with it for four years, and then evaluate. Within a month or so I knew it would have value in my job. I also started a blog for our church later that summer.
I enjoy the personal discipline involved of creating new content on a daily basis before I head to the office each day. I feel like a journalist on a tight deadline. Each morning it helps me get jazzed for the new day.
S-a: Can you describe what was the most creative moment of your childhood?
EN: Impossible to narrow it down to one, but when age 8 I came up with the idea of being The Blob for a Halloween event in Cub Scouts. I won Best Costume. My mom dyed a pair of sheets mottled grey and sewed them together for me. During the costume parade I rolled around the room. Twenty years later I met someone who remembered that night!
S-a: I enjoy your loose artistic style. What has lead up to this? Has your style changed over the years?
EN: What you call a “loose style” has probably been evolving. For literally decades my drawing has been very precise, using technical drawing pens, clean edges and all. A few years ago I started “drawing” with brushes which soon because brush drawings over a wash background. I have experimented with inks and other ways of creating the background over which I draw or paint.
This past year I have become very into using Photoshop to manipulate photos which I then paint. I have been using digital photography and Photoshop to create effects but do not believe I can ever divorce myself from the actually hands on application of color to surfaces, whether paints, inks, crayons, whatever.
S-a: Tell me about 'Dogs of War' and why you painted it? It's a moving work. How does this affect you personally?
ED: I watched a documentary about the use of dogs in WW2, the Korean conflict and in Viet Nam. If you’re a dog lover, the film is actually quite heartbreaking and very powerful. This image which I captured in my painting was a momentary scene in the film. Not the background, but the G.I. with his dog. I happened to have an abstract painting that I didn’t think was finished, so I painted this image there. Initially the silouhettes were lighter and I wasn’t really happy with the piece, but was scared to risk messing with it. While reading a book about how contrasts strengthen a piece, I mixed some color and brought them out a little more. It has gotten a lot of very positive reactions. Just this week I decided to have it scanned to sell limited edition giclees. The original is 24” x 24” but I think the prints will be 18” x 18” and may 12” x 12”.
S-a: If you could live the life of any known artist in history, who would that be and why?
EN: Picasso. First, I think to be so perpetually creative for such a full lifetime is impressive. Second, one day I had an experience in college where I felt the spirit of Picasso had entered my body. I found out the next day Picasso had passed away about that same time the previous day. As a young artist, it was probably was wishful thinking…
S-a: And to finish, If you were talking to a promising pre-teen artist, what would be your advice?
EN: First off, have fun being creative. Don’t compare to anyone or anything... have fun... But keep trying and learning new things. Learn how to create depth using perspective, shading and dimensions, and you will get accolades at an early age that keep you going. It is a bit like learning magic tricks. When I was a teen, the maxim that I found most helpful was this:
it takes a thousand bad drawings to make a good one.
This really fired me up to do as many drawings as I could as quickly as possible so I could draw a good one. I found this improved my eye hand coordination and helped develop technique so you start to do what you plan rather than always relying on “happy accidents.”
S-a: Thank you Ed, for a very insightful contribution.
Ed / ennyman
The first question was hardest because so many influences, both people and events. The item where I mention that my dad supplied paints when I was in art school... that was in college, not age 4 (lest there be confusion) ... He also painted when we were kids, but not art,.. rather our toy box and lots of practical, functional things. He was talented but dismissed it a little. Modest, etc. My grandmother's influence is understated here, too. Very amazing woman, ahead of her time.
ed / ennymann
Link: www.ennyman.com and others
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
Note: I am allowing the blogs in the category 'Book' to be stored for personal use only, but not for distribution or commercial use. Should you wish to reproduce any material, please contact me for negotiations.
spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy. He has practiced drawing and painting for about 40 years, and might get good at it one day. spOOk's art is focused on graphite portraits.