Thursday, December 27, 2012

The descriptive line

I've been looking for an excuse to feature this  drawing for a while!  It is for me, a particularly successful piece done in the same simple contour mode that I've shown in the past.  This is a drawing method which depends for it's success on very careful concentration as you work. In working this way each individual line has to be treated as if it is the most important line of the whole drawing. Once it has been completed, the next line is the most important one!  This is not a "sketch", nor a drawing which can be treated with any kind of off-hand manner. You must pay complete attention! Look at each line of the subject, analyzing its distinct proportions in relation to itself and in comparison to the other elements of the piece. Take your time!

I don't believe I've spoken about one other important aspect of line in the past.  Altho' it is a single line, the crucial idea is the use of varying pressure to emphasize the importance of particular line segments, e.g. to signal a change in direction or to high-light important shadow areas without actually adding shadows.  Aside from that, an interesting aspect of the line in this case is to put emphasis on the ends of the line especially where it intersects with another   Look at the lines delineating the hair. Each line starts out strong at the forehead and temple then fades, helping us to see form in the mass of hair.  You can, if you wish, add the emphasis to particular lines after the initial line is drawn or after you have finished the whole drawing.  You can use the same color or one slightly darker or a bit more intense as I've done here. (As noted in the past, the added white enhances the 3 dimensional aspects of the subject.)

A third important aspect of the varied line is its contribution to variety within the drawing. Variation of line weights helps to make a drawing more interesting . The viewer's  attention to these varied line weights slows his progress as he scans the work, adding to his pleasure by following your actual work in making the drawing. As you produce the drawing you teach the viewer about drawing, unity (harmony) in the drawing design and the importance of careful observation, whether in the initial work or in viewing the finished piece!  Not just an artist you'll be, but a teacher!

"Repetition and variety create unity. "   Virginia Wieringa

"Get to know the subject intimately... by (looking) and learning from nature."   Melissa Jean

"To teach is to learn twice."  Joseph Joubert

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Alternate View

Perhaps you've noticed that I haven't posted many drawings of men on the blog. (I can hear some saying, "No surprise there!") Part of that is the fact that we have had far fewer men as models than women. The other factor may have something to do with my preferences, so here, to make up for my "disorder" is a male portrait I particularly like.  Steve is a strong guy with a great face that I have been drawing for years. This color pencil portrait in 3/4 rear view, is an angle I run into frequently when out drawing people in doctor's offices, auto mechanic's waiting rooms, car washes, etc. The nice thing about this angle is that people don't notice you working. You might be surprised by the way people get nervous when they realize I'm drawing them, so any near-rear view helps mitigate that problem.  I have to say tho', there are some who do get a kick out of an artist paying attention to them!  It's another of the real joys of drawing in public.

The larger satisfaction in working in public is "getting it right".  You have to look fast, work fast to catch the pose before things change., - and change they do!  I hold my breath when I hear a name called, hoping it's not my subject being told his car is ready! I have too many sketch-book pages of partial figures I've had to abandon. As you can see I generally work with pen in public, a deliberate choice so I'm forced to look very carefully as I draw. No changes, - it's great practice!

When I checked my sketchbooks looking for subjects turned/facing away to match Steve's pose, these two turned up - just coincidently guys bald or near-bald as Steve.  See, things sometimes do work out to produce balance without any real planning! (I wouldn't bank on that tho'!)

And speaking of symmetry, here is a second drawing of Steve to round out this page and to let you see him straight on, - nice face but a much more mundane view. Aside from the privacy it allows, that 3/4 angle I love is also positive in adding to my scant knowledge of anatomy,  especially with those bald heads! How often do you get to study skulls, cheekbones, chins and ears from this angle?  Go for it! Enjoy the view!

"The joy is in the process, not the product."  Fay Bohlayer

"Skill is less important than awareness."  Graham Collier

Friday, December 14, 2012


Here are a couple of the latest Kristy drawings, both worked up much more quickly and more loosely than most others shown recently. The one on the left was finished in just a couple of minutes at the end of a frustrating two hour session in which I'd only produced one poor drawing like that on the right where correction after correction muddied the result.  Look at those overworked and unnatural eyes!

Yes, there are some interesting areas like that right hand where the history shows, but in the end my heart or head was not really in it.  Sometimes you just have to admit you are having a disastrous day, pack up your pencils and flee for the hills ... but most times taking a deep breath and starting again is really the right idea!  It's a rare artist of any sort who doesn't feel undone occasionally by the frustrations of time, technique or technology! Working hours to produce a wonderful image and losing the whole thing to an over eager misstep or technical mistake is truly "the pits" but backing up rather than packing up will build your resolve and strengthen your love of drawing itself.  The old dictum "Ninety percent of success is just showing up" is really the right idea!  Even as I peck away working toward this latest blog post, I often wish I were just drawing instead but ...  I slog (and blog) on!  Hey, just do it!

"Be gentle to all and stern with yourself."  Saint Teresa of Avila

"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."  Confucius

"What comes out of you when squeezed is what is inside of you."  Dr. Wayne Dyer

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Looking for Comments!

This is an interim post with no new art image! I'm looking for comments regarding this art blog! I know we have quite a few regular readers (or lookers!) around the world but most remain completely anonymous! Historically this blog attracts between five and six hundred hits per month. The current number is higher than ever at 668 in the last four weeks! Those hits are from many countries around the world led by The United States, closely followed (this month) by the United Kingdom, India, Russia, Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Philippines and Israel. I believe every single country in the world has brought at least one visitor. My problem is: I really don't know who you are, what brought you here, what you see or read here that keeps you coming back. I rarely find comments left. (Perhaps you need to be a "Follower" to do that?)  So how about some communication focused back in this direction? If somehow you cannot use the comment box, email me at < >.  I'd love to know where you are, something about yourself and what you find good or useful about my "Dailies" posts? Do you share, forward or recommend these posts? Are you a "Follower?  (I'd certainly like to see more of you on that list!) I really look forward to reading your comments! Thank you!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Form and Material

A previous post spoke of simplicity and showed a penciled beech tree drawing that I really liked. I thought it would be good to post more like that just because of the spare approach. I also thought, except for that recent one, that I'd shown too few trees lately so went through my files and found a real surprise, - No Trees!  Well, at least no more in pencil.  I must have been into pen & ink for a lot longer than I thought, - plenty of those! Among them, these great old maples, two of several bordering the drive of a wonderful Maine B&B where we vacationed many years ago. I spent a couple of hours in soft summer shade picturing these two aged guardians with a very fine pen. I didn't draw the horses eyeing me from the fenced pasture beyond but they were a lovely addition to a productive afternoon.

Without a tree in pencil, these graphite gloves, preliminary practice for a planned series of twenty years ago, will do to compare the natures of the two media, - the thin hard line of ink vs. the broader soft graphite.  I'd finished a couple of the series pieces when life got a little hairy and I put them aside to make room for recovery.  Neither of those is small enough for inclusion here but no matter, the pencil in this drawing is just what I wanted to present. The work is loose enough to be interesting and well enough controlled to describe the subject.

Looking back now, I wonder how I would have handled those trees if I'd had a pencil in hand rather than a pen.  Ink certainly can be looser than that above but still, today, I gravitate toward the simpler pencil drawing where the few details are nice contrast in the supple surfaces.  The penciled glove drawing is more abstract, so more contemporary and shows a better appreciation for form. The trees are an example of a tight working method I used for years, - nice in its attention to texture but now somehow "dated" in its fussiness.

Each of these materials have positive aspects. Work with both, either, or any other you find interesting.  Work with media you truly love, explore its breadth and become master of its depth!

"Every master knows that the material teaches the artist."   Ilya Ehrenberg

" 'Scenes' are temporary; form is eternal."   Lynda Lehmann