"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can." - Danny Kaye
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Reflections and Confessions
Legal Warning: This post contains personal reflection which is in part self-congratulatory. It is understood and acknowledged that this is ordinarily not permitted in our society and is often misunderstood. The writer takes full responsibility for any distress that this may cause. Moreover this post reveals errors in the process of creating the above picture and therefore will serve to destroy any illusion, however ill-founded, that art is infallible and that every stroke of the pen of this blogger is intentional.
Confession no. 1: I believe that this picture, with its great many flaws, shows that I am progressing. Since I started this blog with the aim of improving, this makes me happy.
When I started this blog six months ago and for several months thereafter, those of you who followed saw a lot of "floating heads" scattered around my pages (pictures drawn in public of people's faces and nothing else). There were three reasons that I drew floating heads: (1) It has always been the face I was most interested in and because of this, it was what I knew best how to draw. (2) People move. (3) I just couldn't figure out how to draw a body in public - the face would always end up disproportionately bigger than the body, like a cartoon. (I drew many cartoons as a kid).
You can see that I still made this mistake on one of the figures in this drawing. The face on the man facing the viewer is too big. This is because when I drew him I forgot what I have learned: Whenever I intend to draw a figure, I must never draw the face first. I must have the torso completed before I draw the face. Then I can mentally measure how big the face must be, as compared to the rest of the body. I always have a tendency to draw the face first because it is virtually always the character of the face that attracts me to the individual.
Actually, in this drawing I made this same mistake twice. I will get to that in a minute. First, back to the floating heads. When I first began drawing in public, I would never have been able to cohere all of the miscellaneous heads into a whole scene. I am pleased that in this instance I was able to take various figures in proper perspective, and add elements to the drawing to convey a sense of place. This is new to me.
I am also pleased that I didn't let reality get in the way of this. The guy holding the paper is sitting at half a floating table, and the guy in the front is at another half of a floating table. Bet you didn't notice this 'till I told you (let me know if you did). This is because it does not matter (at least in a sketch) and I am just beginning to understand this.
Confession no. 2: The reason the two sitting figures are sitting at half floating tables is because I drew the face of the closest figure before I drew his body, and it ended up too big, so he had to be closer. I was too infatuated with the character of the face. I am actually happy that this happened since I believe it is a more interesting picture because of the placement: there is more perspective, and a fuller sketch of the surroundings was made possible. And, again, nothing appears to be missing. There are no accidents if I can create a final drawing - only serendipity.
Confession no. 3: I am rather pleased with the coloring though I know I have much to learn. What I find interesting is that I will start rather timidly with rather traditional shading, but as time goes on I seem to go into a zone and operate on instinct and throw blotches of color here or there where I think it will look good. Watercolor allows for layering, and that's pretty neat. I'm starting to intentionally optically mix by laying down subsequent dry washes (although I have to admit I am still more comfortable premixing).
But here's the foolish thing I am pleased about that no one but me would even care about, I think. If you look at the pant leg on the middle character and that blotch of blue. That is what I am happy about. I can't tell you how much I have wanted to create that kind of wet-on-wet effect and it has been elusive.
So I confess to being happy with my progress and being happy about the long road ahead because I know - in large part from viewing the blogs I've listed on this site, and others - that I have a long, long way to go. And I'm excited about making the trip.
Swerving along the artistic road with every sight a potential target. * * * If you'd like to contact me about any of the art that you see - about purchases, commissions or just to say hello - feel free to email me at email@example.com. I'd love to hear from you!