The biggest mistake you mustn’t make

In August, I was on Tenerife with my wife, L.

It was quite hot, I didn’t take many art tools with me and for me being on holiday for 10 days I hardly made any art at all.

What was the problem? I was listening to a voice in my head telling me that even if I tried to do something here and now, it wouldn’t look anything like what I would want it to look like … the paint brush I use all the time has past its prime … the watercolour sketchbook (300gr) is too precious … I don’t have the right colours to paint skin tones … there aren’t enough contrasts … it’s too hot. I was giving in to these nagging voices.

In the end, I managed to save myself to a certain degree, I jumped in the deep end and painted the sea (using sea water) and also made a quick and dirty sketch of the beach at sun set (which I didn’t like for a few days and now I really love and think I should delve into more often).

The biggest mistake(s) you mustn’t make:

  • listen to the nagging voices
  • tell yourself the art tools are the problem
  • convince yourself you’re not as good as you (think you) used to be
  • stop playing/fooling around

3 weeks, and then there was Life Drawing

Well, we managed to order two models today, and I kept the one company while the first one posed for 30 minutes.

Then I got the chance to do some drawing too (four 10 minute poses, one 15 minute pose and five 2 minute poses).

And this is after 10 days of Tenerife (our annual holiday on the Canary Islands) and 5 days of Rotterdam (Sketching workshop in The Netherlands). I’ll post something about those two events later.

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Tomorrow I sign my new contract as a Life Drawing tutor, I’ll post what I’m going to be up to in a later blog post.

Fünfundneunzig Minuten

Gerade wieder nach Hause gekommen, nach einem langen Tag auf Dienstreise und mehr als zwei Stunden beim Aktzeichnen.

Insgesamt 95 Minuten haben wir heute Abend gemeinsam das Modell gezeichnet.

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Beim Vorzeichnen habe ich mit einem stumpfen Bleistiftstummel den Rythmus der Kräfte in der jeweiligen Pose gesucht. Danach habe ich ziemlich locker die Konturen mit einem “S” oder “XS” PITT Fineliner gezeichnet. Wobei ich besonders auf die kleinen “Unebenheiten” die durch prominente Muskelgruppen oder durch das Skelett direkt verursacht werden. Als letzter Verarbeitungsschritt verbringe ich noch einige Minuten damit, die Form, bzw. das Volumen des Modells mit Buntstiften herauszuarbeiten. Dabei achte ich darauf, mich (so gut es geht) bewusst auf eine Lichtquelle zu reduzieren.

Acht 10-Minuten-Posen und fünf 3-Minuten-Posen = 95 Minuten. Danach war mein A3 Blatt ziemlich voll gezeichnet.

And on the fifth day …

Who would have believed it? I didn’t draw for four days. No gesture practice, self portraits, nothing … not even any hatching exercises.

… then I went to Tuesday’s Life Drawing Session, for which no model arrived …

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I began the evening on the stage … three 10 minute poses for my fellow life drawers. The next hour of drawing, I attempted to use my meagre FORCE knowledge to make those poses more believable. What I’m really surprised about is the true to life likeness of the faces I drew tonight and I can only guess it’s coming from all the quickly sketched self portraits I’ve been doing in front of the mirror. Of course, I’ve also fed my brain with loads of information over the last 3 years (perspective, anatomy, mnemonics, tone, volume) and it was sure to pay off one of the days, wasn’t it?

Now That’s Life

Just back from Life Drawing. Many short poses were called for tonight. I still managed to call a few 10 minute poses.

Some dialogue from tonight (I’m the time keeper):
[5 minutes into a 10 minute pose]
Stuart: Ok, only five minutes left
Drawer 1: Oh!
Stuart: Yeah, incredible, isn’t it? So much time left.
Drawer 2: No, no, where’s the time gone?
Stuart: Really? I spent the first 5 minutes writing my shopping list.
Drawer 3: Show off!
[Stuart smirks]

Anyhow: pencil, PITT artists pen (S and XS) and a limited selection of Polychromos coloured pencils. 1 minute, 2 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute, 7 minute and 10 miniute poses. All on one A3 sheet of paper (190gr/sqm).

I was having a blast tonight!

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Getting serious again

I came back from one of my life drawing sessions  …. (yes, I have more than one each week … privileged, little, snotty boy, right? Hah! Jealousy will get you nowhere!) … where was I? right, life drawing … and I’d moved back to lines again, which is kind of getting on my nerves a bit, but this is what that evening brought about:

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So, that’s … pencil marks first (finding the basic lines, 1 minute max), fineliner directly afterwards (to commit to the lines, 2 minutes or more) and then a reduced set of coloured pencils (10 to 15 minutes of cool Zen-ness). These are all on the same sheet of A3 190gr/sqm “1584” paper. The paper is great for me and my selection of tools.

Note: I must admit, I’ve been spending some time with a new book I’ve been given as an early birthday present from my gran, it covers Figure Drawing in a refreshingly modern but also academic manner, I may mention it in a future post. The studying of books is starting to pay off, if I’m allowed to say that myself at all.

In the meantime, because I can’t go to life drawing more than twice a week (can I?), I’ve been posing for one or two daily self portraits in front of a mirror. 5 minutes per sketch, all in an A6 Moleskine diary with a fineliner and with limited success. Here’s one of the better ones, if you ask me:

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Note: Probably I should also mention that I’m currently taking Paul Heaston’s latest Craftsy course, all about making lines and crosshatching and all that stuff he’s famous for.

My daily gesture practice was interrupted a day or two, which is ok once in a while. But I feel I’m not stretching myself enough here, so I’m going to be cranking up the seriousness and attitude in the next few weeks. Here’s an example of 30 second and 90 second gestures using https://quickposes.com :

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And to end the post, here’s a little painting I did on a very windy day at a sketch meeting in June (I haven’t posted this yet, right?). It’s just lovely knowing you’re painting and sketching surrounded by other painters and sketchers. Good to get out, mingle, feel like you’re sharing an experience, not just stay shut away at home, drawing cups, shoes and selfies:

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Good night!

Back On Track

What happened?

After nearly OD-ing on my regular diet of FB, I’ve now managed 12 days without Facebook and Instagram.

The first few days:

itching to look at FB, IG or even twitter … even considered reinstalling the Sktchy app.

To be honest with you and especially myself, I wasn’t actually missing other people’s posts, but I did get the urge to bring my USk books back up from where I banned them: the cellar. But I didn’t succumb to it.

To feed the “gobble gobble urge”, the first few days I watched a lot of videos by Michael Matessi and a few youtube videos on keeping a sketchbook. Ninja Sketchbooking. Or something like that. Not too much information there, actually. Certainly time consuming and certainly nothing to get addicted to.

I’ve been preparing this blog post now for days by taking notes on my phone, which – after about a week –  actually seemed to help quit the online habit. Just chatting with myself instead of putting “my shit” out there. (Which I am actually still doing by posting this, but there’s just you and me reading this.)

I considered starting some more obsessive drawing habits (additionally to my daily gesture drawing obsession):

  • Self portraits, daily
  • Drawing every day objects

I started with the self portraits but I actually ran out of motivation and enjoyed a few days watching Chinese films and reading Elmore Leonard novels.

On the weekend I treated myself to a “handmade” fountain pen (handle is turned from two different types of African wood and the nib is German made: Bock). I also bought a handmade sketch/notebook with Italian paper and used it all tonight at this weeks first life drawing event.

Loosing The Net

OK, I’m going to start an experiment.

I’m leaving The Net, well actually just the social network part of it. I’m going to count the days I don’t log in to my FB account, until I stop even thinking about it. The same goes for Instagram, I won’t be posting or looking at IG. (I already left Sktchy about a month ago and I made a few final tweets yesterday.)

I’m just drawing from real life currently, I want to be more productive and concentrate on my line making and watercolour skill set, do it for the sake of improving and do it for myself.

Here’s an example of one of todays 10 minute real life drawings. Hopefully this guy’ll get happier and happier and more and more productive day by day.

I guess I’ll be posting here about the experiences I make with this long term experiment.

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The Sweet Spot

There was a time when I drew once a week. I’d come back from my weekly Life Drawing Session, rush to my scanner and upload everything to my blog.

Since being the owner of a sexy smartphone with permanent access to my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and basically drawing daily, the blog posts have become less and less.

However, I’ve been down in the dumps lately. I’ve been dependent on too many outside influences and have been negligent of my own feelings and goals. On top of that, I’ve lately spent a few hours raiding the last remnants of my previous 3 years of drawing and painting. I’ve done away with about 80% of that stuff now, but it left me feeling like the past three years hadn’t made much of a difference.

This feeling of frustration had been growing in me for some time and may have helped me to move to a different style which seems to be keeping me from being too tidy but also from being too sloppy. I actually think I may have reached a temporary sweet spot. I’m not sure if I want to stay in this very spot, but it’s allowing me to break out of my usual line making activity and I’m additionally no longer afraid of painting before drawing.

I look, I paint and then I hold a coloured pencil pretty firmly and draw very focused but fiercely, making unforgivable lines and curves.

I used it just now at Life Drawing and this is what came out.

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Days of Doubt

I’ve just finished a 30 day challenge of drawing at least one portrait per day and now that the emails are no longer arriving, I’m feeling a bit lost. Additionally, I’ve had one or many bad head colds the last 4 weeks.

Whatever, I’d started to doubt myself the last 24 hours, asking whether I actually know where I’m going with this and if there is any progress I have achieved (“What?” Yeah, that’s doubt for you).

Anyhow, I was on a business trip yesterday, spent hours at airports and in planes and in retrospect, the time seemingly flashed by  in minutes because I was sketching people most of the time. Just sketching, nothing rendered in great detail. And I find myself asking myself where all that time had gone (I was on a 15 hour trip). And, “was it used sensibly?” I can’t find a simple answer to that question yet.

I’m quite sure I should be doing more to increase my skill set, because it seems like I’m using  a lot of my precious time, just sketching and not drawing or painting. I still haven’t sat down to practice any anatomy, although I have started collecting female body builder pictures on pinterest, because that’s something I picked up somewhere on the net, I think while reading up how to study with George Bridgman’s study notes. Which is also something I never considered looking into. I just found the link again, after searching for “bridgman alcoholic stick” (would you believe it?). You could also try “Studying Bridgman properly”.

There is a three step study recommendation:

  1. understand the text as well as possible
  2. make a tonal study of Bridgman’s sketch
  3. find a photo reference covering the studied area of the body and copy from the reference using your newly learnt knowledge (the recommendation is to use female body builders because they are lean and the muscles stand out)

Just need to do it …

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contour lines, paint, then crosshatching
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crosshatching then paint
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Flight home
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30 second gestures