Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sketches: Shaping up

This week my sketches came from "Drawing and Painting Animals" by Bill Tilton. I still plan on doodling with "Draw 50 Animals," but Tilton includes more instructions for beginners, and I wanted to learn those basics from him before attempting any more cows.

The book starts with a simple copying exercise. You're supposed to draw this rabbit:

. . . and then set it aside for later use. I'm assuming he wants me to come back to my rabbit later and say "man, I didn't know anything back then. What a sorry excuse for a rabbit! I'm soooooo much better now." But for now, I think my bunny is pretty sweet. So take that, future badass-drawer Suzie.

I've heard it said that, during his "interview" for the Sistine Chapel commission, Michelangelo simply painted a perfect circle and the Pope hired him immediately. Tilton also emphasizes the importance of practicing the foundational shapes of drawing - circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, and "peanuts." So I spent the week drawing circles. I can't tell you how exciting this was.

"When you're drawing a ball or sphere, even though you're drawing on flat paper, imagine your lines going behind and around the form. You should get the feeling the line is lighter as it goes away from you, lighter on the top or area in the light, and heaviest on the bottom. Keep at it. Before long you will know when it 'feels right.'" That's straight from the book. Not only did the page above take me a couple HOURS to sketch, but I wasn't able to imagine my "lines going behind and around the form." What does that mean?? And it still doesn't "feel right." If it really is a matter of practice, I'll get it. Maybe not Michelangelo-get-it, but definitely non-wonky-animal-head get it.

As I drew myself  a little 4-quadrant cheat-graph to begin this sphere I thought, "why not just trace a paper cup?" I didn't, of course, but seriously, what's the point of a freehand circle, besides to show off? Drawing the circle itself was the hardest part. The shading was too much fun, creating chaotic darkness around my imperfect light. If I were to change anything I'd probably make the light a little rounder. I guess I got lazy. And tired of circles. Sheesh.

Wow, this felt like a book report. Sorry for the boring post . . .


J said...

Circles are so boring, Suzie. How dare you. Post something interesting instead and entertain us!

Joking, joking. I find basic shapes really fascinating because I'm so bad at them. I just realized recently that I have a heck of a time drawing a reasonably straight line freehanded. It always curves downward to the right--or upward to the right when I overcompensate because I THINK it'll curve down.

They're not the most glamorous thing, but like you say, the basic shapes are important! Now you'll see round shapes like that everywhere, in the forms of things. When you decide to draw things from life, look out! Those shapes will come back and make your drawings awesome.

Suzie said...

J, you sound just like 'ole Tilton himself. ;)