I live not far from Quebec City’s exposition center, which is convenient because there’s a farmer’s market, park area, and a large activity area associated with it. There’s also a very large statue. It stands 30-40 feet high and represents, I think, a deer, walking across ice. The deer is looking down and its reflection is depicted by a white version of itself. It’s pretty impressive.
I decided to draw it and I found it more difficult than it looks. The reason is that it’s an animal with four spindly legs balanced upon a second, upside down set of spindly legs. Clearly, if I got the angles of those thin legs wrong, my sketch would look like it was falling over. Not having the mass of the top animal balanced on those legs would, of course, have the same result.
So, I spent probably half an hour just triangulating all the points, getting the proportions figured out, and the result was a whole bunch of lines and dots that didn’t look like much. Drawing it was easier and while painting always reveals my poor brush work, that wasn’t too bad either. The one thing I regret was that I didn’t do it larger (sketch is only 6″ high).
Stillman & BIrn Nova Gray, pencil, Daniel Smith Watercolors
Never let it be said that I don’t love buying pointy devices. I’ve got so many of them that I could build half a house by stacking them. So, when I went to buy a new printer cartridge, I came home with a printer cartridge AND a couple of Ticonderoga “checking” pencils.
Many people like Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils, not so much because they erase, but because they provide a range of colors while still retaining sharp points and they have a pencil feel, rather than a waxy colored pencil feel. I like them too, but I think that most would agree that they don’t produce the saturated color of a quality colored pencil.
Still, for quick sketching, C0l-Erase provides a good experience. I picked up a pack of Ticonderoga “checking” pencils with that in mind, and the fact that it was only a couple bucks to try something new. This pencil didn’t disappoint.
Like the Col-Erase they do hold a sharp point and may feel even more like a pencil than Col-Erase pencils. They may also produce a slightly more saturated line, though the difference here is small. I confess to being a Ticonderoga fan. Their #2 “soft” pencil is so much better than most of its school market competition that they rival much more expensive pencils, something I would never say about the basic yellow Dixon pencil that dominates the school market.
Here’s my “experiment” with the checking pencil. Not a completely polished portrait but I think it demonstrates the possibilities with this $1 pencil.
For nearly a decade I put fountain pen to paper as a wanna-be sketcher. I would post sketches here and profess to “just draw stuff.” Mine was a simple approach to art to the point where I questioned whether it was art at all. I just drew stuff.
Pandemic lockdowns got me reading a lot about art and I came to the realization that I did, in fact, “just draw stuff” and that there was a world of art that I did not know. I decided I needed to do what everyone says and “get out of my comfort zone.”
I first tried gouache and I liked it, though I was frustrated by light hues drying darker and the dark hues drying lighter. It was too much for my feeble mind, which was trying to figure out light and shade, values, etc.
So I started painting with oils. I like those a lot and continue to pursue them, though I’m still very much a sketcher type and so I’m trying to figure out how to create a lightweight, portable oil painting set up. I have learned a lot about color and values by this part of my journey.
I also realized during the pandemic that I had “skipped a step” by starting to draw with a fountain pen. I never learned how to use a pencil. So I’ve started drawing more often with pencil, trying to figure out how to shade properly with them. This has helped me improve my pen and ink hatching as well.
My current adventure is the next step with pencil, I guess. Pencil portraiture is slow work. When you lack the skills it can be frustrating work too. But it’s also VERY meditative because the work goes slowly, deliberately from vague contours and spots toward something that looks like something.
Here’s my something, a portrait of the head of this statue. I talked about it and the museum website that allowed me to see it back in April. I’m not sure I’ve got the patience to do this kind of art and I’m certain that I quit working on this portrait too soon. Nevertheless, I feel I learned a lot in the process and will do another.
I’m still working myself back into a sketching rhythm and that has meant a lot of spur of the moment decisions and results. And so it went during the saga I am about to tell.
I’ve been doing a lot of my sketching on cheap paper, mostly card stock and copy paper as I try to get my eye back into shape. Lots of sheets of ellipses, circles, cubes and spheres as well as sketches of anything in front of me. That’s working great, lots of fun, and these sketcher calistenics me to get back in shape. I feel like a baseball player, trying to get his “timing” back. I know how, but something just isn’t quite right yet.
Anyhow, here’s a couple sketches that didn’t find their way into the garbage can. The first came while I wandered around Pinterest. I’m a long-standing train nut and I often ask myself why I don’t draw more of them.
Here’s one, which started as a quick sketch of the nose of a diesel engine I remember from my youth. I did it on card stock and when I decided to turn it into a color sketch I got the msgs that watercolor provides when it hits paper without sizing. Everything here is dull, somehow muddy, and I couldn’t add a lot of fine detail. It’s about 4×6 and done with pencil.
On another day I drew this young girl. Seems these days I’ve got a thing for little girls looking around corners. This one was done on photocopy paper and I decided not to bother trying to do watercolor. This, too, was done with a pencil.
I’ve just cut up some Fabriano Artistico sheets to provide me with some loose sketching paper. That should solve this problem (grin).
I’m getting behind in my blogging to I’ve combined a couple things here. We’re still in pre-spring here, with lots of rain and we have only rarely gotten to a temp of 10C. Still, sketching season is upon us and it’s been wonderful so far.
It’s also been a bit weird. I find myself distracted from sketching by a need to reconnect, to catch up, with friends. And so it was when I went out to Miriam Blair’s house on the Ile D’Orleans with Yvan to sketch. It was so good to be there, with fellow sketchers, that I had a hard time taking the actual sketching very seriously. We sat around a table sketching because it was cold and rainy outdoors and much of the activity was done with mouths and ears, not with our pens and pencils.
I drew these pears, first as a pencil drawing but later with some color added. Then I spied a Ball jar in the window that had something growing from it. It was too far away to tell what it was (later found to be geranium starts) but I started sketching it anyway. I find it both hard and easy to draw things I can’t really see. Hard because it’s difficult to make out the objects being drawn but easy because it’s easy not to be distracted by details when you can’t see them (grin).
This week I had my first opportunity to do actual “life drawing.” Most of my drawing is done from observation but being able to draw someone while they posed is, somehow special. But the danse school put on such an event and I attended. Dancers would do short poses and I would frantically try to scribble down their form. In spite of a bad headache, I had a lot of fun. Wish they’d do it every week.
Anyway, here’s three of the pages I did. Note that I have no “technique.” I drew on photocopy paper and drew on top of previous poses. That’s something I will do differently if I ever get another chance as it sometimes became confusing. I worked with a colored pencil and then a plain old 0.7mm mechanical pencil. Very basic.