Interesting work in Life Drawing class the past week. We’re learning how to simplify figures by blocking in simple geometric shapes. It helps generalize what you’re seeing and I think will make it easier working from life.
At the Terryl Whitlach conference, she had recommended Future Publications’ How to Paint and Draw Anatomy which showed how to break the human figure into simpler shapes. I found the book (actually both volumes) online at Scribd.
Today, my teacher also shared a video that will make really help what I want to be able to do. The figures are very fluid, but also have volume.
Here’s my pencil illustration for the the thumbnail I previously uploaded. I went with the underwater city. I took some of my inspiration loosely from those great Jules Verne books, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and all the vintage diver stories. I’ll also post my inked / copic tone marker version at the bottom. Ink and copic markers are new media for me. I also am working on Mylar / Dura-lar, which is helpful for making frequent revisions, especially with ink.
This Christmas break, I’ve been doing more sketching to improve my skills. I’m trying to make each single piece tell more of a story and I’m also working on more backgrounds and landscape elements. For my birthday, I went sketching at the zoo (cold, but could be worse) and took some advice from David Rankin who wrote the book Fast Sketching Techniques. I heard about him from a wildlife artist that I admire. He made the distinction between drawing and sketching – and pointed out the frustration of wanting to draw from wildlife, but difficult because it’s always moving.
We started some of the exercises in the book and put some of his advice into practice at the zoo. I still would like to touch up some of the sketches I did there, but’ll I’ll share them in a future post. He recommended staying longer with one animal and taking in all the little mannerisms. It becomes easier after you’ve drawn the same animal many times from different positions and doing different things.
The drawing of the girl is from a foreign movie based on a children’s fairytale. The man with the mustache is more my own invention and I titled it Admonition. The other photo is a sketch of Albert Schweitzer from a vintage photo.
This is a WIP (work in progress). Assignment this week for Typography is designing a book cover using a previous drawing. This is Jeremy – The Rabbit Who Wanted to Fly. Lots of possibilities for how this story could go.
As much as I liked traditional atelier instruction like at the Gage Academy, I’ve really wanted to get more experience drawing imaginatively and using drawing to tell stories. One great exercise we had to do in my Mastering the Pencil class at RMCAD last quarter was drawing multiple thumbnails to tell a story.
The prompt was an old suitcase. We had to make a story out of it. Here are some thumbnails sketching out potential characters, locations, and sequences. From the brainstorm, I created an Agatha Christie Miss Marple-like character, Emmeline Duck who solves mysteries like the suitcase at the bottom of Bolger Pond.
Last week when I was writing a paper on the great illustrator Howard Pyle, I was struck by this quote from him: “If the first sketch looks like the one I want to do, to make sure—I always make the other forty-nine anyway.”
Here’s a final project from my 3D design class. We had to create a balancing sculpture and I balanced a mama barn swallow made out of sculpey clay on a baby. I’m glad it worked! I chose to use sculpey, because I know a lot of 2D artists use sculpey to make maquettes that help them with composition and lighting.
Also instead of the Windy Shrews (see my prior Balderdash assignment post), I decided the final Mowburnt project would be a burnt sort of elephant shrew who thought he was Horatio Hornblower.
My classes this quarter are History of American Illustration and Typography. I’ll update more soon.
As a prompt for creativity, my teacher had an assignment based on the word game Balderdash. She assigned everyone an obscure word where we were to come up with different drawings for what the word could be. My word was ‘mowburnt’. The definition I gave a mowburnt was a small singe black shrew-like creature. We had to draw 30 thumbnail possibilities and then narrow them down.
This is just a preliminary sketch / WIP. Another possibility has a Horatio Hornblower-like shrew paddling a sardine can, and another, an urban shrew dreaming up a better life.
Last week, I also had chance to volunteer at the Burke Museum‘s Bird Day part of a small group from the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Every one was very nice and welcoming, though I was just a college student. Several explained that they had more of a science background than art when they first became illustrators.
I found out the Burke museum has a close relationship to science illustrators at the University of Washington. They hold an exhibit of new graduates from the UW program in scientific illustration every year.
In James Gurney‘s tutorials I learned that he does a lot of sketching and exhibiting in museums of natural history because of his interest in dinosaurs and birds. Because birds and a lot of other animals move so quickly, having time to study the structure of different and similar animals in a natural history museum can be very helpful for field work. At the Burke, I was also told that artists are at the museum almost every day working with the different departments. Apparently the museum employs some artists to help with their design needs and educational exhibits, but community artists are also welcome to come into the museum and work with their different animal specimens for free.
I’m looking forward to sculpting this tomorrow – we’re supposed to take a myth and create a container based on it. This was my favorite idea for the Tibetan story of the Frog King. The Frog King outwits both a fox and a tiger. My mythic object will be strands from the tails of a tiger and a fox when they got them tied together in a knot.