It’s been 12 months since I last posted. (Scroll to the end of the post, to see a selection of drawings.)
I’ll try and focus on where I am at the moment with my drawing, but I’ll start by reflecting on how I got here.
So, 2020 began with me stopping my daily gesture practice drawings, I’d got bored of them (this could have been a sign for me back then). I still continued going to weekly figure drawing sessions (which I was organizing myself). I took part in the love life drawing dot com annual figuary challenge and went on a 5 day course, drawing portraits and people.
Then Covid came.
The figure drawing sessions stopped. After a few weeks, I noticed I was feeling much better without them, so I decided to officially stop them for good. (Note: some people have now taken over from me, but I’m not itching to go back soon.) In the meantime, I started attending online figure drawing sessions, they were real life sessions and you could chat and have fun during the session or in the breaks, some were in Barcelona, most of them were in Glasgow. It was cool.
Then I attended a 4 week online bootcamp, hosted by Marshall Vandruff, covering the topic George Bridgman (an art teacher 100 years ago. Andrew Loomis learned from him). It was fabulous. I had a great time, Marshall was so full of energy, and a few things really resonated with me. In the end, I stopped drawing figures from reference completely. I wanted to delve into what may be possible without having the comfort of a reference. That was hard, that is(!) hard, I’m still struggling, but things are slowly, very slowly, starting to get a bit better.
After many weeks of struggling and avoiding, I went back to my portrait drawing from reference photos and started working with pencil again. But now, after drawing 10 portraits over a period of 2 or 3 months (each portrait taking me 2 to 3 hours) I’ve evidentally run out of steam. That procrastination phase seems to have come to an end.
I’m now trying to develop my “skill” at automatic drawing (drawing without anything too specific in mind and without reference). I’m calling it a skill, because it seems so difficult to me. Perhaps especially because I’ve trained myself to rely on reference photos a lot. I start making squiggly lines and vary the line (type, quality, form, direction, shape), attempting to achieve something specific, but not too specific, letting my eye and imagination find something in the scribbly marks that can be further developed.
My goal is to sit anywhere (sofa, bus stop, doctors’ waiting room, cafe, train) and just produce fantasy figures from the top of my head. I think I’ve eventually started to understand some of the important factors that need to be considered, their meaning and the order in which they need to be prioritised. The important factors are composition or design, followed by gesture (if not already part of the design), considerations on the effective use of perspective, and last but (not least) the clever use of line quality.
I’ve already tried it out, it’s not too hard, once you really let yourself make those 10.000+ bad drawings that you hear everyone talking about (you’ve heard this, right?). I may have made about 20 or 50 (depending on what counts as a drawing), but even after so few, I feel like some barriers are disolving slowly. Nevertheless, it’ll be some time until I pick up the courage to share those attempts with the public (which is actually a quite relaxing approach).
Right then, here is the promised selection of drawings from 2020.