Monday, July 16, 2012

Blind Contour Drawing

Kristen reminded me that blind contour drawing is really the best exercise for training your brain to see! She actually recommended negative space blind contour drawing, but that is a little bit like more than my brain can actually deal with, so for now I'm talking about blind contour drawing. Here's how you do it: set up some object to draw, then position yourself so that you have to turn your head away from your drawing pad to see the object. Here's my object.

Look at your pad and decide where you will begin drawing, then put the tip of your pencil or pen on the paper there, then do not look at your drawing again until you finish! Turn your eyes toward what you are drawing. Let your eyes move slowly around the object, and following your eyes with your pen on the paper, carefully drawing dips, curves, corner, details as you go. But remember, you are not looking at the paper—not even a little peek!

Now look at your drawing.

I guarantee it will be an odd-looking drawing. But the point of this is not to make a perfect drawing. The point is to train your eye and hand to work together. To shift into your right brain where you are seeing all the little dips and curves and translating the mass as it really looks, not as your short-cut brain thinks it looks. And then really look at your funny drawing. I think there is always something very truthful in these blind contour drawings. You get the proportions wrong for sure, but there is a spirit of the object that comes through and a nice sensitivity to the line.

Kristen has spent the past month moving from Hawaii to the East Coast, but sent me several drawings I posted earlier. Today I got this.

"Tada! My favorite mug is unpacked and in use. I see that I drew it less flared than in reality, and I remembered the text differently. Fun exercise though."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Adding color to your drawings

Today's drawing was a handful of fresh Bing cherries on a paper towel. So beautiful and so delicious it was hard not to eat as I was drawing them.

So this drawing was just crying out for some color. You can hardly tell they are cherries without it. Here is an idea that I came up with awhile back for experimenting with color, without ruining your original drawing. Use your scanner or copy machine to make a couple of copies of your black ink drawing. This won't work if your printer ink is the kind that is water soluble. My Epson printer uses Durabright ink that is permanent. If you have a laser printer it works too. Use drawing paper in your printer. You may have to trim it to size. I made a couple of copies of the cherries.

For one I used watercolor pencils. I have a smaller box, that I use for travel, but I really like my Derwent Inktense pencils better. I used them to color the drawing, mixing and blending the pencil colors as you would with any colored pencil drawing. I left a lot of white areas showing on the cherries that represent the reflections of light on the shiny skin of the cherries. For any kind of watercolor work, white is paper, not white paint.

Using these pencils is a little bit of a guessing game, because you add water after you have colored the work and the colors "bloom" to more intense and complex hues. You can use a small cup of water and a watercolor brush, but I am hooked on my water brush that holds water in the barrel handle. It is perfect for drawing and painting on the go. Use a paper towel to clean the brush fibers between colors.

Here it is after I have "painted" it with the water brush.

I also have a little travel-sized pan watercolor set for painting on the go. I used them for my second copy.

I use the water brush with them as well. Here is the finished painting.

You can see the results are quite similar.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Shared drawings

I am home from a week-long road trip to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. I took my drawing supplies along and did not take them out of the tote bag. I had good intentions, but too full a schedule, with obligations to other travelers to find the time. Sigh. That seems to be the way travel goes.

Thankfully, a couple of you had work to share!

Kristin LaFlamme sent these with her comments.

 "I tried drawing some flowers when you posted about yours on your drawing blog. Unfortunately, 
between the interruptions from the kids, the wind, and the fruity drinks (this was while we were at the hotel in Waikiki), I didn't finish either. ;-)"

 "I didn't find time to draw on our road trip. But, now that we are in our house with practically nothing, there is some time to stare at the ceiling. Here's a contour drawing (sometimes looking at the paper, sometimes not) of my view!"

 "Since the ceiling fan drawing sucked, I tried something a little more organic. Without going outside in the oppressive heat, our souvenir bota bags were the next best thing."

Karen Miller sent a couple of drawings done outdoors that she added watercolor to.

You can click on these to see them larger and read the writing.

" I decided to join a local outdoor art group for a trip to a local man's lovely Japanese garden. They go someplace different every Wednesday morning from May to October. I did two sketches there. Others were working in a variety of mediums, pastel, colored pencil, acrylics, watercolor. I am not up to painting woods and distant trees yet so I painted things closer to me. I have never included a person before but he was sitting so still I was able to draw him. They have a group critique at the end of the morning. I told them I was a rank beginner at watercolor, still at the sketchbook stage. Comments were that they wanted to see the rest of the sketchbook and I sure could draw for a beginner. I was pleased."