This week was dedicated to painting. It was my first full week to get back in the swing of things. I have a painting I’m working on that should be done in the next couple of weeks. I’ve had a lot of fun with it, so stay tuned.
When I wasn’t painting I did a couple drawings of friends on Facebook.
It’s been over a year since I posted a status offering to draw profile pictures and I’m still working through the backlog of requests.
When I posted these two drawings, it brought my status back into the newsfeed and I received a couple more requests. I’m keeping a list of everyone. Bit by bit I’m crossing off names.
On July 1st I found myself with a bit of extra time and decided to whip out a quick self-portrait. Since I didn’t want to spend too much time on it, I used one of my 5″ x 7″ canvas boards.
The portrait was primarily a practice in value and light. I first blocked in the darks with a wash of burnt umber.
Trying to keep it simple, I used a few lighter colors to establish the lights and mid-tones.
With everything blocked in, I threw in some background color to provide more clarity in the portrait. With the blue there I could gauge how dark I needed the face to be.
Originally I had only planned on working on the portrait for one day, but I came back the next and figured it needed a little polishing. The eyes had to be filled, the hair adjusted, and the nose widened
I focused on getting my features correct and turning up the intensity of the lights. At this point the background had dried into a nice greenish-blue. I kept it that way. The end result is a rather fair portrait. I think I did a decent job of capturing my likeness, with my only complaint being that in hindsight the distance between my upper lip and the bottom of my nose may be too great. I’ll have to do a couple more portraits this size over the summer. They’re great practice.
On the 26th I finished my last summer class and now I’m able to fully enjoy the weather. The next day we headed up north to visit my girlfriend’s sister in Kennebunk, Maine. She lives a few minutes from Parsons Beach, so we hopped on over there and spent the early afternoon soaking up the sun. I actually soaked up too much sun. The sunburns have been annoying. Time to get the season really started and buy some sunscreen.
We were there for about three hours and I probably got two hours of quality painting in. Spent a good thirty minutes at the start figuring out what to paint. Eventually I settled in and painted my girlfriend and her sister. It came out pretty decent for a sketch. Used a 5″ x 7″ panel.
On Sunday I squeezed in a couple sketches of mallard ducks for Sketch Daily’s summer prompt.
Down behind my apartment in Newmarket, New Hampshire is a boat launch that slides out into the Lamprey River. Any time of the year a flock of ducks can be seen waddling around the area. During the winter they lay across the pavement for warmth. During the summer they hangout in the adjacent park and beg for breadcrumbs. I park my car down there some days and they always shuffle on over to say hello and see if I have anything to share.
Guess they were my inspiration. Though I didn’t have any pictures of them, so I had to make do with what I found through a Google search.
This past week I’ve been participating in daily prompts on reddit’s SketchDaily.
It was car week and I started Monday with the 1950s Pickup Truck prompt. After a little Google search I picked a 1952 Ford F-1.
The next day was Exotic/Super Sports Cars. I had no idea what car I picked until someone told me that it’s a modified car in the Bosozoku style.
Wednesday was Rat Rod day. Spent a little extra time on this sucker.
Next day was all about the American Muscle Cars. Found out that the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was debatably the first.
Car week concluded with Concept Cars. I went with a classic style concept car.
Yesterday was Non-dominant Hand Figure Studies. I spent about an hour sketching with my left hand and a mechanical pencil and then inked the sketches in. My right hand didn’t like sitting by the wayside. I kept unconsciously trying to switch hands. It’s a battle to resist years of training and habit.
Though I’ve never been a fan of drawing cars, these prompts have been great practice. They’re pushing my comfort boundaries. We’ll see how next week goes.
Wow. Been so busy this summer already. I’m in the process of taking two summer classes so I only have to concentrate on my internship next year. In my free time I’ve been working on a painting. It’s coming along wonderfully. Probably my best yet. But because I’ve had my hands full with various things, I haven’t produced any art to blog about. I wanted to change that, so I kept my sketchbook with me and did a couple silly drawings.
Not sure where I was going with this. It started with his face and just evolved. I guess this could be a troll.
While the other drawing was spontaneous, this drawing was purposeful from the beginning. I wanted to draw a banana flashing itself from behind its peel. I was giggling the whole time I was drawing.
There were days in middle school where I would just doodle, letting the pen loop over the page and bring my subconscious imaginations to life. In my freshman math class at UNH I drew a comic of fantastical dinosaurs hatching from their eggs. There were times I’d get lost in my doodles. Still, doodling has never been something I do regularly. I tend to draw from life. Four years of art school trained me that way, I suppose. But I was sitting in one of my classes last week and got inspired by the nose on the guy in front of me and I started doodling. At first I just wanted to capture the nose, then it turned into something else. I was using my pocket sketchbook, so the limited space forced me to get inventive.
It was fun. It was something new. There were no restraints. Who cared if proportions were off? It was plain fun. So the next day I doodled some more.
I wanted to capture some sort of Moby Dick vs. Ahab feeling. Afterwards, I looked up what an actual whale looks like and laughed. Mine wasn’t even close. I guess I got the baleen teeth right at least. But I like my whale so much because my imagination skewed my memory of whales to the point that it became a new creature.
When I got home that day, I did some reading for homework. While I read I idly sketched circles. They somehow formed into a Mickey Mouse head and I knew I had to take a break to finish my idea.
When my girlfriend and I went to NYC the other month I was fascinated by the costumed people in Times Square. Some of their costumes were spot on, but for the most part they were all slightly off. You could see the resemblance to the characters they were portraying and you could also see how they just missed their mark. When I drew the Mickey Mouse head above, my mind didn’t create an exact replica. It was just like a Times Square costume. Something was off. And I like that.
This is the first time in a long time that I’ve really let my mind control my drawings. However, I think that the years of formal practice have given me the skills to best express my imagination. It’s only now that I can begin to bring to life whatever I think of.
I’ve already got some more doodles for the next post.
I go on many Wikipedia journeys. If I want to know more about a place, or I’m working on a project, or I hear someone mention a person I’ve never heard of, well then it’s off to Wikipedia. After browsing for a bit, I’ll often click the associated hyperlinks. This causes me to jump from topic to topic, and sometimes land very far from where I started. During one of my recent explorations, I stumbled upon Egon Schiele.
I love the raw, unadulterated, self-deprecating quality of his work. He didn’t try to pretty himself up in his paintings, and instead chose to accentuate his angular skinniness. It makes me wonder how he arrived at that style. How many hours did he put in before these paintings? When did he realize he had a style? And these questions are why I enjoy studying the evolution of painters. For example, Picasso started very traditional and then founded the non-traditional cubist movement. How does this evolution happen? Is it just a process of time and exploration? And I wonder when I’ll know I’ve found my style.
Though I spent this last week looking at Schiele’s work, I didn’t exactly attempt to duplicate his style through a self-portrait. Mostly I thought about his use of line to define the boundaries of the figure.
I started with a pencil sketch before working in some pen, but I kept my line work loose. I didn’t want the pen to become a definitive and bold boundary.
Because of the harsh lighting, I applied heavy sections of white pastel, but I may have overdone it. I didn’t let the tone of the paper do most of the work. It was fun to do a playful expression though.
While in South Carolina my girlfriend’s uncle let me read several art books from his collection. I was working on creating a lesson plan for Maus at the time and he showed me a few comic artists for inspiration. The book I found the most interesting was The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book. I’d seen Crumb before in An Illustrated Life, but I really got to appreciate his style through the large colored pages. It’s gritty and visceral. He puts a lot of emotion into his mark making. So when I sat down to draw a self-portrait last night I wanted to study his style.
R. Crumb has drawn quite a few self-portraits and I pulled up several for inspiration. Here they are in chronological order:
I mostly used the 1986 self-portrait as inspiration. I feel as though it shows a wide value range, which gave me a lot to reference and study. The 2005 portrait has a great range as well, but I was not doing a full body self-portrait.
As I worked, I flipped back through my browser tabs, constantly analyzing Crumb’s hatching technique.
Since Crumb is a comics artist I tried to capture a comic book feel through an exaggerated expression. I had a lot of fun scrunching my face into different positions. And the squinted eyelids were much easier to draw than open eyes. The end result reminds me a little of Fight Club. My only complaint is that I made the mouth recede too much. I think this could be solved by darkening the shirt more and putting the majority of the drawing in shadow. Then the mouth would be on the same tone level as everything else.
While I spent a good part of the week looking at R. Crumb drawings, I also found inspiration in some other locations. I found this short painting tutorial which has made me think about how to deal with dark skin tones. And on deviantART I found the following two drawings:
I love how this drawing by Derek Jones is both sketchy and round. The fullness of the form makes it appear almost lifelike.
Then I found Mattias Adolfsson’s drawing among the Daily Deviations and it reminded me of Where’s Waldo. The level of detail keeps the viewer entertained for a long time. I also like the simple, muted colors. Though it’s a playful illustration, color theory is still very strong.
That’s it for today. If I can find the time to finish it, I’ll have a large drawing for next time.