Back before blogs and such artists could decide to learn something brand new and experiment to their hearts content without anyone knowing they were doing it. When one has a blog, however, there’s still a desire on the part of the blogger, as well as his two followers, to continue to post “results.” This is balanced by another desire, a desire to not embarrass oneself (grin).
I’ve mentioned that I was doing lots of experiments with pencil and, as a pen driver, how disappointed I’ve been with the results. But I’ve now had three emails asking why I wasn’t posting those experiments. I’ll try to explain.
They are experiments. When Edison did his proverbial 2000 attempts to develop the light bulb he didn’t report failures or even partial successes. The modern way of looking at art these days is that we say “It’s all about the process,” but most people still believe that it’s about the product and the internet underscores that belief.
So, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I’ve scraped together a few of those experiments. I confess that most of these things get thrown in the garbage and are done on photocopy paper. I don’t digitize them, don’t display them, and, frankly, I don’t think much about them as most of the thinking is done while I’m doing them. I’m learning, or trying to, how to use pointy devices that aren’t fountain pens.
Here’s the tool kit I’ve been using. I added the large charcoal holder because I have it on my desk and sometimes do really quick sketches of something or other that’s part of a YouTube video I’m watching. From left to right is 1) Blackwing pencil, 2) General charcoal pencil, 3) Prismacolor black, 4)&5) Abrecht-Durer watercolor pencils, 6) Derwent water-soluble pencil, 7) Monol Zero eraser, 8-11) Mars-Lumograph 3H HB 4B and 8B pencils, 9) Ticonderoga #2 soft pencil.
All the capped pencils have very long points, sharpened with a knife. I carry small pieces of sandpaper to sharpen them. Oh…the charcoal holder is an old Cretacolor holder that I love. I tried to find a source to get another one but I could only find a metal one from Cretacolor. I love the wood handle of the one I have.
Ok….as I said, I throw most of my experiments away but here’s what was laying on my desk from yesterday.
The tree sketch has nothing to do with the sketches to the left or right, the car was just an imaginary car because I picked up an Indigo pencil and wanted to see how it worked. You might begin to see why I throw these experiments away. Yes, I could do them on separate pages in a sketchbook but, once again, these are experiments, not products.
I was watching an artist interview and they were showing some of the artist’s work. One was a portrait of a woman. I picked up that big Cretacolor charcoal holder and started quickly sketching her. I had about 2 minutes and, as you can see, I ran out of time. Still, these quick attempts are invaluable in better training my visual cortex.
Ok…I looked in my sketchbooks, and I found these few sketches. In a toned book I found this one. All I can recall is that someone was doing a life-drawing portrait and I drew this one. I worked quickly and spent no more than 15 minutes on it. It shows 🙂
I had my Bargue book out and decided to quickly (emphasis here) draw the Bargue planar eye page. My experiment was to see if I could “see” all the angles quickly (no measurement or analysis). My performance was, at best, ok.
This gave me the idea to draw some real eyes and so I turned to the internet again, simply pausing videos when I got a close up image I could draw. These two were the results of that experiment.
I do apologize for not posting more regularly but, as you can see, there isn’t much in finished products coming from my pencil drawing. Maybe I need to get a pen out (grin).
I love the Bargue eye practice! One reason I think it is important to share “experiments” (or anything considered less than successful) is that the vast majority of artists on social media are sharing only their “best” work. This perpetuates the myth that artists are somehow born “gifted” in that they can crank out masterpiece after masterpiece and nothing but. And that commoners like us who can’t do that might as well give up. As you and I know, masterpieces are actually few and far between. 😉 I enjoy seeing the experiments as well as the ones you’d consider “results,” and I enjoy sharing my own good, bad and ugly — for the sake of “process.” 😉
I agree with everything you’ve so eloquently described. The print side of the media has become little more than a way of showing off (not necessarily negative) our latest sketch/drawing/painting. Used to be we actually discussed art talked about who were are and what we do. Too bad that’s changed..but times have changed and that internet world has become more judgemental, everyone is worried about their “brand.” So, the reluctance to show our lesser work is understandable.
When it comes to personal growth “experiments,” however, there are other things, mostly having to do with the artist themselves. Experiments are about finding out things. I think a lot of wanna be artists don’t understand that. They only draw when they are “producing” something. I’m in a period (and you know it well) where I’m not trying to produce anything with a pencil. I experimenting with making marks of different kinds, using different kinds of pointy devices, seeing how all that relates to the kind of sketching I want to do. Notice how much I had to explain what I was trying to do, how much time I was spending and other things that determined why the heck I was doing what I was doing. Informative…maybe. BUT…
… thinking about documenting it is like the observer affecting the outcome, it changes your mindset during the experiment. And then there’s the matter of work time and flow. Those scribbles I posted would normally never be digitized, resized, etc. and no descriptions written. Heck, most of these end up in my trashcan, which is why so few were done in a sketchbook. So, I think this is a bit different from going out sketching and ending up with a sketch you might be proud of. At least then you are doing what you normally do. At least then you were trying to do a good sketch, or at least one you’d normallly do in the time alotted.
So, while I agree with your premise, I can’t turn these experiments into blog posts on a regular basis.
Cheers — Larry
Totally see that point of view, too. I think the most important thing is to do whatever keeps you sketching, experimenting and growing — and having fun! If sharing on social media ever gets in the way of any of those, it’s time to reevaluate. Keep doin’ it, Larry!
Well said, Tina. The only problem is how one feels about it while doing it (grin). Sometimes I think the internet has become a liability. Then I think of the friendships I’ve formed with people I’ve never met and the upside makes me feel better about it.
Cheers — Larry