Friday, 7 December 2012

Observation is Key

I talked before about visiting The Natural History Museum and doing research in books and magazines. These sketchbook pages are the result of these explorations.

My art teacher in school taught us that the key to drawing accurately was observation. He said it was 80% looking and 20% drawing or maybe it was 90% looking and 10% drawing, I can’t remember exactly. Anyway, the message is to look a lot and let your hand draw what you see.

He also thought me about tone. We practiced for hours shading little square blocks. I would start with the darkest shade I could get and then gently lift the pressure off the pencil to achieve the next lighter tone. I would move across the page trying to get as many shades in between black and white as I could. Then I would move back the opposite way, starting with white and then barely brushing the page with my pencil to achieve as light a grey as possible. Practicing pencil pressure was very important to me. I always wanted to get as smooth a gradient of tone that I could.

A new drawing technique I learned in college was blind drawing. There are some examples here and on the previous pages I posted. You start a blind drawing by picking a point on a page with your pencil. You then pick a point on the object you have chosen to draw. You then let your eye run around the object. Without looking at the page, you let you hand follow the line that your eye has taken. I found this technique quite scary to begin with but when I freed myself up to just let it be an exercise in observation, I grew to enjoy it.

You knew how successful or unsuccessful you had been by how much the squiggles on the page matched the thing sitting in front of you. I’m quite pleased with the ones I have drawn here. They look somewhat like insects and that is good enough for me. I was so afraid when I went to Art College that I wouldn’t measure up but it really did just give me more and more techniques and tools to explore my talent with. I worked extremely hard and found I had a huge appetite for learning and experimenting.   


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