Thursday, August 30, 2012

There and Back Again: Days 48-53

Day 48: This thought, to try and go back to drawing from my head, is something I'd used in the past as a cop out - oh, I'm too tired/don't have any ref on-hand/etc, might as well just doodle. Here it... still sort of is, but I started getting the memo that maybe I should commit to it, and treat it like a useful hour of drawing.

Day 49: The drawing never quite resolved for this one. It turns out I do have a limit on how small I can effectively draw...

Day 50: And same here. At this size, I can't actually keep the proportions correct and spend far too much time noodling with the face, because one pencil mark being slightly off means that everything is wrong.

Day 51: This, however, is a perfect size for me.

Day 52: This should have been a good drawing, but I was distracted while working on it. Parts of it are there, sort of, but not enough and not overall.

Day 53: This just didn't work out, because I should know better than trying to start a day's drawing at midnight. The second one makes me happy enough, but the overall page is disappointing.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

There and Back Again: Days 42-47

Day 42: A beautifully-lit vintage photo! I tried to find a balance between rendering and markmaking here.

Day 43: From the same photo as the day before, of the other figure. I didn't do as well as in the other, getting distracted by all of the different elements.

Day 44: Close, but no cigar.

Day 45: I just turned my head off for this one and drew, and am pretty well pleased by the result.

Day 46: I challenged myself to do something heavily involving drapery without becoming a psychopath about each and every fold. I mostly succeeded! The bottom part is a shambles, but I actually finished the figure in around 40 minutes, giving me around 20 to do the A Little Princess sketch.

Day 47: This began as something from reference, of someone holding what looked like hair in bright enough lighting that it turned to filaments of light - and then I just ran with the idea, instead of trying to get something perfectly accurate.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

There and Back Again: Days 36-41

A friend invited me to draw birds with her at the Natural History Museum, and, given that I love birds but don't have a lot of experience drawing them, I accepted gladly. I was feeling pretty good about my technical drawing ability by that point: my drawings had been getting better every day, and I hadn't really run into a real challenge.

Then I spent an hour and a half in the NHM failing to draw birds.

Day 36: It was pretty bad.

Frustrated, deeply, by my failure, I decided that I was going to bang my head against my inability to draw birds until I fixed it.

Day 37: Not as bad as the first attempt, but not great.

 Day 38: Better, but wings are still mysteries to me.

Day 39: I decided to draw more wings, in an effort to stop sucking at them.

Day 40: Anatomy studies. This is when I realized I was getting too wrapped up in the structure, and needed to pull back to the birds themselves.

Day 41: Success! Not, you know, the most amazing birds ever - but recognizable as themselves, and drawn without too much frustration. With this page I declared Operation: Lern 2 Burd a success, and decided to move on for the present.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Holding the Pass drawing

I can't say enough about how essential critique is. The difference between the first drawing and the second is the difference between an ok illustration (which is compositionally About A Butt) and an image that tells a story. I'm so excited to paint this!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

There and Back Again: Days 32-35

Day 32: John Singer Sargent studies! Which sort of miss the point, since one of his biggest strengths is his brushwork...

Day 33: I have loved this photo of my friend for years, and I've attempted to use it before. This time was significantly more successful!

The paragraphs of text are about getting over the fear of the empty page space. I work small and fine and fairly slow, often leading me to the choice between having either one image in a sea of blank paper or a lot of fast drawings - sometimes fast because that's their nature, and sometimes fast because I need to fill the space. I was about to start a second portrait here, and realized... wait, no, I don't have to. I had already spent over an hour on the first drawing, and I had something to do that was a little pressing, and while I could have done something in the given time, it would have been pretty bad.

Day 34: This day marks the last time I will factor in train transit time as available drawing time. This isn't a bad drawing, but it certainly isn't worth the hour and a half if took. Those hands should be so much better!

Day 35: I had markmaking issued with this one, but I do like it.

That drawing from Day 33 again, bigger and a little cleaned up.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

There And Back Again - One Month Down

Having finished the first month of this project (and counting), I thought now would be a good time to take something of a step back and look at what I've done and where I'm going. I didn't get much of a chance for forethought when I started, largely because I was caught in a little sliver of a window between the IMC ending, my new job starting, and moving out of an apartment in Harlem and into a new apartment in Queens - so, apart from the beginning post and a lot of notes that I thought I Should be Writing on each page, this project so far has been a feet-first blind jump.

Not that I don't know what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to use these six months to become a better and more confident draftsman, and to home in on what I actually want to be drawing. I strayed, in the last year, and I've known that since the IMC.

What I haven't really been able to parse until recently, though, is exactly how to go about getting back to my roots through this project. Each day, I basically went, "Uhhh, I guess today I will draw... THIS! Because!" and that wasn't, yanno, helpful. Oh, it fulfilled my hour, and I'm not stupid enough to think that every single day out of six months is going to be a Meaningful Drawing Day... but there are a handful of pages where I clearly just had no idea what to do.

And so I doodled. Some of them were interesting doodles! But I've never been terribly good at such things (it's hard for me to do anything when it's a white sheet of paper and no prompts, and it's not a full composed illustration), and my doodle pages were almost always days that I was 'too tired' to do something real.

I've known for a rather long time now that the difference in my drawing between 'with reference' and 'without reference' is, uh. Significant. So it shouldn't have been surprising that when I started pulling my day's drawings from photos, they got not only much better, but more informative: suddenly, I was able to see some of the things I was doing.

When I'm drawing out of my head, I'm not concentrating on anything, it's not challenging any part of me, and therefore it's not teaching me anything. I fall back on the same shortcuts and approximations, use the same angles and expressions, indulge in the same allowances I always do. When I'm drawing from something, though, I have to concentrate, and so I notice things. 'Oh. That's how long a nose actually is.' 'Oh. That's how light falls across a hand, because the hand's structure is like so.' 'Oh. That's where a neck goes.' And on and on and on.

In the last third of the month, I worked almost exclusively from reference - either photos or life - and not only did my quality skyrocket, but I began loosening up in my rendering and exploring new markmaking. And I was choosing my reference based not only on 'is this beautiful to me?', but also on 'is it useful to me?'.

It was the correct choice. At one month and a week and a half, I can say that I am already better at drawing than I was before, more confident and more expressive both.

The really exciting part of that is I still have most of five months left to keep climbing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

There and Back Again: Days 27-31

Day 27: I was very, very tired. It became really clear really fast that the second hand/arm was just not going to happen.

Day 28: I decided that the second hand that I started the previous day was too lovely not to do justice to.

Day 29: Dancers!

Day 30: A lovely lady from an ad. I didn't quite get her elegance and presence, unfortunately.

Day 31: Switching it up a little, trying to draw a child. The expression and movement and pose were all so interesting; unfortunately, I struggled with the face.

...and so ends my first month of the drawing-a-day project.