Sunday, 8 October 2017

Expressive Drawing – Conversations Between Line Weight

Elaine and I are settling in to our new home. Now the moving frenzy has died down I have more time for drawing and painting – I even have a studio.

I’ve returned to Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone (see Expressive Drawing - The Drawing Process). Chapter 3 is about Line and Mark. There are some initial “Play” exercises involving the creation of samplers using different tools on different surfaces.

“Build” exercise 1 is Conversations Between Line Weight. The steps are:

  • Draw a simple line drawing using a ballpoint pen
  • Create 6 photocopies and stick them to the wall
  • Use a charcoal pencil and different line weights to create 6 variations of the original drawing (in my case scribble)

These are the results:







I enjoyed the exercise and am becoming a big fan of standing up to work. I’ve started tracing the drawings in ink (particularly the long flowing curves) as a technique for improving the quality of my lines. The results aren’t great, but they are improving.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Welcome Back


Welcome Back
12 September 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
14.0cm x 20.3cm (5.5" x 8.0")

It took me 3 days to draw and paint our new front door. I started on Sunday and was rained off after a few minutes. I finished the drawing on Monday before getting rained on again and got up early on Tuesday to paint it before the rain started. I must have chilled on Wednesday or whatever Craig David did.

Mmm... Cookery Books
29 August 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

l am beginning to find time to draw and paint after a hectic period with moving and work.

Pot and Bowl with Shadow Shapes
27 August 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

Last year, I learnt a lot from Liz Steele’s Sketching Now - Foundations course, so I'm following it again to get back into the swing of regular sketching. The sketches on this post are my favourites from the first 5 lessons. They seem more confident and relaxed than last year.

In the Bathroom
4 September 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

I can never get this toothbrush right. I've drawn it 4 times and it always ends up too wide. This time I was intent on making it stick thin and it still ended up looking stocky. The pattern on the toiletry bag was fun because I didn't fuss about accuracy.

Modest Too
4 September 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

The pencil case was a gift from Elaine. I’m not quite big-headed enough to buy it for myself.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

St Peter's for Bob

St Peter's For Bob
Watercolour On Paper
26cm x 18cm (10" x 7")

It is over 2 years since Bob asked me to paint a view of East Bridgford church. Unfortunately, his request coincided with a shift in my interest towards sketching and away from creating "finished" works. The problem was compounded because Bob wanted the scene to include the copper beech – which became a compositional challenge. I tried a variety of ideas without finding anything that worked.

When Elaine and I sold our house, this gave me the extra impetus to finish. Especially when Bob and Angela invited us to lunch on the Sunday before we left the district. I was pleased (and extremely relieved) to be able to deliver the framed painting before joining them for our last meal in the village.

The Five-Value Monochrome Study and Two-Layer Geometric Sketch from Watercolor Painting by Tom Hoffmann helped to clarify what to include in the picture and what aspects of the painting were going to be the most challenging.

I’ve not found time for any other drawing and painting since we sold our house. It’s weeks since I’ve picked up a pencil or brush. The process of buying, selling and moving house seems to have taken for ever. Thankfully, we are now settling into our new home. In the next week or two, I am planning to restart where I left off with Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone and to retake Liz Steel’s on-line sketching class - SketchingNow - Foundations.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Expressive Drawing - The Drawing Process


Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Build 1
Charcoal, Graphite & Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

I’ve started to study and follow the exercises from Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone.

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 1
Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

The subtitle of the book is A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within. It contains a stimulating mixture of theory, exploring the works of other artists and practice.

Steven has an expansive definition of drawing. It includes far more than the representational drawing I have focused on so far. He defines drawing as “the arrangement of line and mark in space, designed to serve a variety of expressive purposes.”

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 1 - Right Handed
Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

Part 1 is about the Drawing Process and begins with Automatic Drawing – drawing with no plan, no purpose and, no conscious control. The instructions are simple:

  • Work on big paper with a decorator’s brush and either artist’s acrylic paint or house paint.
  • Hold the brush by the end of the handle in the palm of your hand
  • Load the brush with paint.
  • Approach the drawing surface as if you were a fencer with one of your feet forward and the other back.
  • Stand far enough away that you need to lean forward to reach the paper.
  • Without thinking or planning, make a line, a squiggle, a doodle - capture your first impulse.
  • Step back and look at the line or lines you just made.
  • As soon as any urge to respond occurs, do it - make another mark.
  • Repeat. Keep going. Looking and responding until nothing more occurs to you, or until you like what you see. Then stop - the drawing is finished.

After Automatic Drawing the next concept is Working in Flux. You start with some Automatic Drawing and then obliterate part of the drawing with white paint and then repeat.

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 1 - Small
Ink on Paper
14.0cm x 20.3cm (5.5" x 8.0")

There are 3 exercises:

  • Play 1 - Automatic Drawing with some variations
  • Play 2- Working with Flux Non-Objectively
  • Build 1 - Working with Flux Narratively

Narratively - involves including symbols and text.

The exercises have been a satisfying change. I’ve particularly enjoyed the spontaneous attitude and the broken lines created when a brush is running out of thick paint.

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 2
Charcoal, Graphite & Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

Build 1 (at the top of the post) was an interesting experience. As the layers built up the drawing changed from having an angry atmosphere to the relatively calm end result.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

January and February 2017 Sketches

Valentine's Day Cufflinks
15 February 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

Elaine and I are busy looking for a new house, which is not leaving much time for sketching. Most of my recent sketches have been done quickly without a pencil under drawing. The cufflink and little brown jug sketches are the only exceptions. In both cases, I used some under drawing to better understand the shapes and perspective before committing to ink. The eye-catching Paul Smith cufflinks are a Valentine’s day gift from Elaine.

Ragdale Tree
11 February 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

We had a relaxing pre-Valentine long weekend at Ragdale Hall. I managed to squeeze in one sketch from our bedroom window.

Ivy Clad Tree
7 March 2017
Ink
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

I’ve started using a grey Tombow dual brush pen to establish a mid-tone in quick sketches. The ink doesn’t seem to be waterproof, but if you give it a moment to dry and blot it, it doesn’t bleed too badly into a watercolour wash. This is a quicker alternative for creating tone in a coloured sketch than waiting for layers of watercolour to dry.

I’m experimenting with this technique, with the intention of it being my sketching approach of choice for the summer holidays.

Little Brown Jug
23 March 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

Elaine’s grandmother used to have 3 of these jugs, but this is the only survivor.

Driftwood House
28 March 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
14.9cm x 10.5cm (5.9 x 4.1")

This driftwood sculpture by Kirsty Elson is a great little subject.  It’s not the first time its appeared on this blog (see January 2015 Sketches).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Three-Layer Thumbnail Sketch

St Peter's Porch
Three-Layer Thumbnail Sketch
Watercolour On Paper
26cm x 18cm (10" x 7")

The Three-Layer Thumbnail Sketch is the third "exercise" from Watercolor Painting by Tom Hoffmann. It is another study that helps to explore how much detail is needed in a picture (see Five-Value Monochrome Study and Two-Layer Geometric Sketch).

The Three-Layer Thumbnail Sketch builds up an image in layers - that progress from light to dark and from general abstract marks to more specific details.

Tom recommends this as an approach for interpreting complex subjects and making them less daunting.

The process starts by asking what pattern is formed by the whitest/lightest parts of the subject. Once the pattern of whites is understood, the lightest layer is painted around them with abstract marks. The first layer can be painted confidently with abstract stokes because most of it will be covered by subsequent layers.

The second layer is another pattern of abstract strokes. It is started by asking how much of the lightest layer needs to remain visible and what pattern does it form.

Each new layer gets darker and more detailed – moving from general to specific information.

You can either stop after three layers or continuing adding layers with more and more specific information.

Once again I failed to keep the first layers as simple as Tom suggests, but the exercise was illuminating. It opened my eyes to a different way of looking at and painting complex subjects.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

January 2017 Sketches

Dog Crockery
28 January 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

Hamish came to stay for a few days in January. He is very polite. He brought his own crockery and some flowers for Elaine.

Dog's Rose
30 January 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
14.0cm x 20.3cm (5.5" x 8.0")

He’s an old man now, so I managed to grab a sketch of him while he was having a snooze.

Hambo!
24 January 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

Mark Taro Holmes (Citizen Sketcher) wrote a recent post about drawing quick sketches while out walking (Personal Trainers Hate this Sketcher – How to lose weight by drawing!). This has inspired me to do the same. I try to take a 30-minute walk most lunchtimes and I’ve added a 7-minute sketch into the routine. It’s been too cold to comfortably hang around for much longer.

Stokes’ Mill from the Foot Path
20 January 2017
Ink
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
14.9cm x 10.5cm (5.9 x 4.1")

So far most of the sketches have been of bare trees, but I’m moving on to buildings and other objects.

Very Cold Finger Post
23 January 2017
Ink
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

The exercises for my latest project (Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone) require some new materials.

Materials for Expressive Drawing
16 January 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

I will share some of the results in the next few weeks.