I’ve had a week off before heading into the new quarter and Concept Illustration. I know a lot of animal artists talk about visiting the zoo to draw animals from life, but the zoo has its limitations – including the fact the animals are usually pretty far away. Yesterday I went to a Kangaroo farm and had a chance to hold a baby kangaroo and get close to a variety of animals I don’t normally see.
Besides kangaroos, there were lemurs, emus, donkeys, alpacas, Patagonian Cavies, and more. Plenty to see. It was neat to see the differences between animals and their different temperaments.
I had heard that Disney and Pixar animators work with live animals to capture their gestures and expressions.
Ralph Eggleston of Pixar said he watched a lot of National Geographic videos to get the correct shivers of birds for his For the Birds video (below). He also videotaped his bird for a few hours and he and his team studied its movements. The team also brought in Cornish game hens to study volume and weight.
I mostly took reference video and I’m going to practice sketching animals from different perspectives. I’ve heard it’s better trying to sketch from a looping video than relying on still photos alone…I can see why. James Gurney shared his tip about sketching a pony from life. He chose the time to draw it when he knew it would be sleeping.
We had an interesting discussion this past week about realistic (or hyper-realistic) painting vs. realistic
painting with fantastic elements. A fellow student shared some of the hyper-realistic paintings of Charles Jeong from South Korea. I shared Allen Williams’ If Beauty Were a Book, done in graphite.
I realized while I like representational art, I prefer works that convey emotion or story more than complete accuracy.
In our final assignment of the class (costume figure), I decided to change it up a bit and use color and value changes, and even changes in the model to alter the mood.
It great to get back painting again. I combined a gouache underpainting with transparent watercolor and then Faber Castell Polychromos pencils and little touches of Sennelier pastels for highlights. It was nice to see that all of the media seemed to work together.
Had a great time with the critique group through SCBWI last weekend. Now I have a week off before starting Concept Illustration.
It’s been another busy week, but learning a lot more what CarbOthello pencils can do. I really like the medium although I have a lot to learn about making color blends. This past week had our usual gesture drawings, 2 hand drawings in pastel, and then a costumed figure drawing. Sanded paper like UArt or Wallis can receive more layers than Canson Mi-Teintes or other pastel papers, but they will eat up your pencils quicker.
I found I like the soft rich blacks of Nitram charcoal. It also doesn’t have as much dust as General’s.
I’ll also post the three examples of pastel paintings that I posted in this week’s discussion. Pastel offers such a wide variety of expression. I really like the medium.
The first is a rendering of Ophelia from Cuong Nguyen who worked as a successful web designer for many years until he got working more as a streetchalk artist, then became a full-time fine art painter. I learned from him that skin tones can be mixed with a green underpainting (verdaccio) and flesh tones.
The second is an illustration from Paul Howard from a Jill Tomlinson book called The Owl who was afraid of the dark. I like the soft luminous quality Howard was able to get from his use of pastels.
Finally, there’s The Guardian by Fiona Tang. It combines chalk pastel with charcoal and acrylic on a paper backing. The different textures of the various media used for this piece this piece contribute to the overall effect in different ways; the chalk pastel in particular is important to the trompe l’oeil effect, helping to differentiate the “three-dimensional” stag in the front from the more “two-dimensional” background charcoal elements, with the white tone of the pastel “light” against the natural brown color of the paper.
This coming week is my final one for Life Drawing IV. We’ve got a watercolor assignment, the first I’ve had since I’ve been in art school. Also this weekend, I’ll be going to the Great Critique-nic through the Western Washington Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. It’ll be the first one that I’ve ever gone to. People bring their illustrations or writing and split up into small groups where they critique and be critiqued.
This past week my class has been looking at the drawing of expressive hands. We’re still working for the most part in charcoal which is getting easier to handle for me. I like Strathmore Toned Paper and I’m finding it easier to get darker tones with a softer Nitram charcoal. I had started with Strathmore 500 charcoal, but it doesn’t have the smooth look of toned paper.
Besides drawing practice (whole body gestures) and these hand drawings, we also have a discussion post where we post examples of expressive hands. Everyone always shares very different examples – it’s a great part of the class.
The three I shaerd this past week were from Rackham, Wyeth, and Earl Oliver Hurst. In the Rackham, I thought it was an interesting contrast between the knobby hands of the old woman and the simple open hands of the children. The Wyeth also showcases contrasts in this Heidi picture. The grandfather is tanned and has a commanding gesture. It’s contrasted with Heidi’s fairer and more tentative post. The Hurst I liked because he seemed to contrast the confident face of the man with the nervous lines in his jacket and hands.