Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Return of Contour Drawing

Me Again
Contour Drawing - 20 August 2011
Graphite Pencil on Paper
35.5cm x 53.5cm (14" x 21")

Contour Drawing is back with a vengeance in Section 7 of the Natural Way to Draw. This is the exercise in which you imagine the pencil is touching the subject and draw without looking at the paper (see the previous posts Contour Drawing, Sunday Papers and Farewell Contour Drawing). Section 7 has a number of variations of the exercise: Cross Contours, Quick Contours, The Head, Right Angle Contours and The Five-Hour Contour.

The drawing at the top of the post is my attempt at the five-hour contour exercise. In the five-hour contour, the pencil is supposed to crawl across the paper at a snail’s pace. My speed was too fast and I finished in 2 hours.  The text suggests that I should persevere and add more details, but I’ve decided to start again on a three-hour contour (with a different subject) because I misjudged the speed so badly.

One of the main goals of the exercise is to study a subject for 5 hours. I have failed to achieve this, but I have understood the point of the exercise and there are other opportunities to gain this experience later in the course. I know that I was studying my face intently because at one point I was confused by a slight pulse in my neck.

I struggled to get back into contour drawing. When it is going well it is a meditative state – there isn’t anything apart from the contour I am following. Unfortunately, there are parts of my consciousness that don’t want to have a meditative state imposed on them. They protest, distract, and try to make the whole experience unpleasant. It took a few sessions for me to address the protests and to get back into the groove.

The drawing at the bottom is a 30 minute contour drawing of my head. Neither of the pictures really looks like me, but they both capture different parts of my face quite well.

And Again
Contour Drawing - 24 August 2011
Graphite Pencil on Paper
28cm x 46cm (11" x 18")

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law
Watercolour on Paper
34cm x 52cm (13.5" x 20.5")

I must have broken some law that prohibits you from painting pubs you haven’t drunk in.

This is Murhpy’s Law - an Irish pub close to where Lori and Peter live in the Beaches area of Toronto.

Its prominent location, the colours of the signs and the Guinness clock really make it stand out.

It looked very inviting on a summer’s evening. The roof top area looked particularly appealing, but instead of popping in for a pint, we went to the Ribfest in Woodbine Park. I know we should have made the effort, but there is always next time.

It may not be obvious, but I tried a different approach with this painting. I wanted to test the theory that if the initial drawing and design is good, the painting does not have to be that  detailed. I used bigger brushes than I normally use and tried hard not to correct or fiddle.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Across the Bay

Across the Bay
Watercolour on Paper
24cm x 35.5cm (9.5" x 14")

Do you know where this is? I took the photo on a day when Elaine and I visited Tate St Ives. It must be somewhere around there, but I cannot place it exactly. It might be Cardis Bay.

It is scene I’ve tried to paint before because of the incredible colours in the sea. A few years ago, I spent weeks working on a painting in acrylics and gave up because I couldn’t do it justice.

This was a much less pressured attempt. I painted it as a warm up over the last couple of mornings. It was an opportunity to try a few things out and to practice painting in a more carefree style. I really enjoyed it.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Modelled Drawing in Water Color

Back to Jack
Modelled Drawing - 3 August 2011
Watercolour on Paper
20.5cm x 38cm (8" x 15")

The modelled drawing in water color is a continuation of the previous modelled drawing exercises (see Modelled Drawing and Modelled Drawing in Ink). It uses yellow, brown and black watercolour paints instead of crayon or ink.

You start by building up the basic shape in yellow and then add the darker colours to model the form of the object.

It is quite a challenge to keep the paint wet enough so that the darker colours soften into the yellow but not so wet that you end up with a meaningless brown mess. (The two pictures on this post are amongst the best that I produced – you can imagine what the bad ones looked like.)

The change in medium is intended to shake you up and force you to really experience the objects you are drawing. At times, it seemed to have exactly the opposite effect. I spent too much time looking at the paper making sure the paint was behaving, but then there were times when I suddenly realised I was observing subtle changes in the surface of an object in far greater detail than before.

The two paintings on this post are our enamel teapot and a rear view of the Sailor Jack model from the original modelled drawing post. I seem to have brought him up to date by giving him a pair of low slung trousers – perhaps I should try this again after I have completed the exercises on body proportions.

Yesterday, I finished Section 6 of the Natural Way to Draw. That is 24% of the course and I am still on schedule. My sisters Sarah and Rachael posed for some gesture drawings over the weekend for which I am grateful (and so is Elaine). 

Tea Stains
Modelled Drawing - 23 July 2011
Watercolour on Paper
33cm x 30cm (13" x 12")