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22 April 2012

An alternative to Life Drawing

I always hear how important it is to draw from life. I agree with this. But it is not always possible. I have few opportunities when I can draw people, except for clandestine sketches in public places. These are usually of people sitting down on the train. Very limiting.

Attending a life drawing class would be ideal. But again, is not an option available for us all. A great website for gaining an understanding of the anatomy and muscle definition of the human  body in a multitude of poses is Posemaniacs.

Another alternative is the use of a figure mannikin. They are cheap and easy to find these days. They are supposedly correct proportionally, and you can even get male and female versions. The females are slightly shorter. You can twist and turn their limbs in a variety of poses. Unfortunately they are not fully human flexible but are  a great starting point. It's also nice to practice at home in privacy until you become more confident.

Here are some quick sketches I did the other day. Don't forget to try different angles and views, lay them down, prop them in different ways, take a birdseye view... experiment and have some fun. You'll probably be able to get lots of poses you wouldn't come across in public.

18 April 2012

Ink washes and effects

One of the things I really like about drawing with a pen is being able to create interesting wash effects. I carry a waterbrush along with my sketchbook and pens. It is really very handy. Just a quick wipe and the ink bleeds and washes into some interesting effects and colours. Of course different inks react differently to water. It is something you need to experiment with.

In my fountain pens I use black Quink ink, black Lamy ink and Chocolate brown Diamine ink. With a lot of water the Quink washes out to some nice browns and blues. The Lamy stays fairly black and the chocolate brown is nice and warm with a red tinge. Gel pens will also wash but I haven't had much success with a biro, it dries too quickly.

As an experiment I decided to see what effect I could get with a spray mister. I did this cat with the black Lamy. It gave it a nice soft furry look. I added a normal wash in the ears for contrast.

I then tried it with the Chocolate brown Diamine but I think I got a bit excited and over sprayed. I do like the effect on the foliage in the background here, but I lost too much definition on the stone work of the barn.

This is something I will definitely experiment with further.

13 April 2012


I have been meaning to post some more here but have become sidetracked with a couple of other projects. I am participating in the International Fake Journal Month (April). I am creating a Cooking Adventure journal. It is a lot of fun. I am finding new and old recipes and trying different ways of illustrating them. I am using watercolour but the paper isn't very suitable but I am still happy with most of the results. It looks homemade.

Here are a couple of examples to give you the idea...

My TAFE homework has also been eating up my time. Drawing a cityscape in correct perspective using rulers is very slow and time consuming. Yes I understand the importance of perspective and I have learnt a few things I wasn't aware of but I would never draw with this much precision for myself.

I have done three A3 drawings to scale and have selected two that I will paint. Today I finally stretched some watercolour paper. I am using hot press which is an additional challenge for me as well. I have only ever used it a couple of times, it reacts so differently from cold pressed but I want the smooth surface. I have one week to complete the two paintings and choose which I will submit for marking. Fingers crossed at least one works out.

07 April 2012

Drawing with a pen.

I love drawing with a pen. Any pen - biro, fineliner, dip pen or fountain pen. For some reason it gives me a sense of freedom that drawing with a pencil doesn't. It was very hard to allow myself this freedom at the beginning. To draw straight with pen knowing there is no eraser to "fix up" my mistakes. You just have to go for it.

It makes you see things, pay attention to the details, decide where you are going to put that line and know you have to live with your decision. This can be very scary to start with. At times I also tend to think "well its not going to be perfect so I may as well just have some fun and go loose". I am still striving for this "looseness".

I have been reading a lot of comments and discussion (some may call arguements) regarding whether you should use pen over carefully drawn pencil lines. I can see a use for this. But it does not have the same quality as a "pen" drawing in my opinion. It would still be a lovely drawing and show nice pen lines but just be different. Penning over pencil lines is a safety net that you may find hard to let go of.

I have sketchbooks full of quick pen sketches. Looking back through them I can see the improvement. Not only that but they have a different quality and style to them. I must say that pen is my favourite drawing medium.

Next time you are wanting to do some quick carefree sketches consider grabbing that humble pen and being brave.

Here are some of my pen sketches, done over a period of time, to varying degrees of success. No matter how "bad" they might look I will never give up on my pen.