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Archive for the ‘Demos’ Category

Skyscapes

Recently I had the pleasure of running a few “mini workshops” for the Placerville Arts Association. With only three hours there’s a limited amount of material and concepts that can be covered. The watercolor workshop focused in on creating skyscape’s. Watercolor, by its very nature, lends itself beautifully to the interpretations of clouds, time of day and weather.

Composition and value end up being the primary elements to consider in a skyscape. The artwork needs to have a low horizon line, that sky needs to dominate at least two thirds of the composition. Value is the next key, the most value ‘contrast or pattern’ needs to occur up in the sky. It doesn’t mean that the ground doesn’t have some strong lights and darks, just make sure it is not busier than the sky. Clouds and weather are usually best done with a sensitive light hand, it takes some practice to do the wet into wet and not storm castle_1storm newMex_1aoverdo any lifting. Clouds become almost become calligraphic with loaded flats and rounds, and you need to let the paint find some happy accidents for you.

Here are two skyscapes that we’re done following the workshop. My recommendation is to always start 2 watercolor paintings, not simultaneously . . . rather start one and then work on the other while you are waiting for the first to dry. It really helps you to avoid the temptation to overwork them.

storm newMex_3The horizontal one had a lovely photograph that was used as reference, the vertical one used the sky that was happening around me that morning with ground plane referenced from a prior painting. Being inspired by the actual sky I was looking at produced, in my opinion, a slightly better painting. I like them both, I just like that one a little bit better.

storm castle_4

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Too often we start a drawing without having a clear purpose in mind. While this may feel like an okay idea, it is a slow way to grow in your artwork. Growth is intentional not accidental, you need to start every sketch by first thinking about what it is you want to say. Ask yourself: what is the mood, what is the story, what composition is going to tell that best, what kind of cropping should I be doing?

One of the best ways to avoid the pitfall of drawing in our sketchbook without a purpose or direction is to dedicate the space or composition before you start. An easy approach is to just simply have one drawing per page. I call this having a “playground”. So establish that playground: either dedicate a framed space or a single page and think about the story, then start to draw. I do value multiple sketches/studies as a way of thinking and studying, but for the most part, most of the time I do try and dedicate that “playground” for each drawing.

Here are couple of examples, two of Andy the model in his Charles Dickens get up, and a page from a digital sketchbook done at the zoo.

Andy take2Andy take tea

You really have to hunt around in the sketchbook drawing of the camels to see what is working and what is not, while with the drawings of Andy the success or failure of my choices is clear right away. The decision to really grow as an artist with every sketch requires a bit of focus and planning before that first mark is made.

camel1

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Footnotes on Feet

Get the foot shape right (in perspective) and then get the shoe on with construction lines that tell us about how the shoe is made.

Get the foot shape right (in perspective) and then get the shoe on with construction lines that tell us about how the shoe is made.

The illusion of depth and space in a 2-D drawing is often won or lost by a foot. To be more accurate, the placement of the feet in a drawing are key to establishing a sense of perspective, a feeling of balance and weight, and of attitude and energy. Foot placement, position and direction also enhance all of these attributes in your drawings but be careful you do not destroy the illusion of depth balance or energy by careless or sloppy foot placement. Remember to simplify the shape of the foot. Ask yourself what is the position? From the side it has along wedge shape to it, coming straight at you it take on the shape of a triangle with steep sides. Make sure the silhouette is clear and strong.  A good way to practice is by simply drawing a variety of shoes (without feet in them) and paying close attention to the construction by drawing the seams and detail.

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Story format can be horizontal or vertical. If you are drawing for storyboard for film keeping a horizontal format is key. For many of us coming from an illustration background or class we will have the habit of drawing and designing on the vertical. Keeping in mind the standard screen ratio of 16:9, the easiest thing to do when sketching is to simply turn your sketchbook or ipad on the horizontal.

I made a short video that goes into a bit more detail, enjoy.

     

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