Thursday, July 21, 2016

Drawing progress report 7 -- maps

Continuing with the combination of thin wash with fine ink lines, I started drawing maps.  Sometimes the wide wash made roads, other times rivers and lakes.  I would outline the wash areas with lines, then enjoyed putting in more details with the pen.  Always experimenting with different kinds of shapes and different kinds of marks to fill in the shapes.

Working in series felt good, as I discarded approaches that didn't work so well and continued to practice approaches that did.

But no matter what else ended up on the page, I almost always had "roads" made of two closely spaced pen lines.  That seemed to be a style that I did naturally.  I like the way the road isn't always of uniform width, because the lines aren't perfectly straight and the bumps don't always correspond.

I found myself going into zen state when I would draw the roads.  Sometimes I would deliberately hold the pen way up at its top end to introduce some uncontrolled jitters into the line.  I almost always finished my daily map drawing with a tinge of regret because I didn't want to stop drawing those roads.

Fortunately I realized what was going on and decided to let the roads keep going on and on.  Tomorrow I'll show you what happened then.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Drawing progress report 6 -- start with a wash

In mid-May I was drawing at my desk and noticed a bottle of brown india ink lurking behind some other stuff.  I think I had been tidying up and the ink was newly visible to the naked eye, and it called to me.  I grabbed a brush and made a loose circular form, then doodled around it with my 005 Micron pen.

Even though the ink was not behaving very well -- it had globs of pigment instead of a smooth solution -- I liked what was happening, especially the contrast between the light wash and the black ink lines.  I experimented with this approach for a week or more.

In lieu of laying down the colored ink with a brush, I tried drawing curves with the tip of the eye dropper.  I liked that even more. (The curves reminded me of free-motion quilting.)

I was experimenting with different kinds of doodles around the edges and was particularly taken with the curves and shapes drawn with two parallel lines, as in the sketch below.  The second line gave more weight and made the mark more visible, but still had the delicacy of the very fine pen point.


I was happy with these drawings; again, I felt that I was developing my own ideas instead of just randomly drawing whatever showed up on the table.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Drawing progress report 5 -- doodle buildings

My second sketchbook for the daily art project had brown paper, and I quickly learned that pencil didn't show up very well.  So I started using either a Sharpie or a fat Micron pen.  During a boring meeting in early April I found myself doodling buildings or blocks with distorted perspective and slots or holes cut into the sides.  After a while I realized that I should be working in my sketchbook instead of on the edge of my agenda.

I drew buildings for a couple of weeks, realizing that I liked going back to the same concept over and over.  Each day's drawing seemed to come naturally from the previous day's; I tweaked the concept, experimented with different methods and densities of shading, came up with new ways to draw holes and slots in the buildings, tried different vantage points.  Some days the perspective was very distorted, other days it was more realistic.

I got the same familiar buzz out of working in series that I have always felt when my quilts are in a groove. And most important, I felt for the first time that I was working from my own imagination, finding my own voice and refining my style by drawing the same subjects over and over.

Then I ran out of pages in my brown-paper sketchbook and stopped doing doodle buildings.  With a new white sketchbook I thought it would be exhilarating to go back to pencil and try something different.  But I floundered.


Update: linking this post to Nina-Marie's blog -- check it out to see what other fiber artists have been up to this week.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Drawing progress report 4 -- daily art

I've told you about several of the routines that I've adopted this year in my attempt to overcome my lifelong terror of drawing, and what I've learned (or not).  Besides the positive learnings, I've learned something very important in the negative, namely that I don't really want to master realistic drawings.

When I decided to confront drawing head-on, I had several objectives.  I wanted to learn about the various drawing tools -- pencil, charcoal, pen, brush -- and how they worked.  I wanted to figure out which of those tools I liked, and which were giving me marks that I was proud of.  Eventually I want to develop a repertoire of drawing approaches that I could use in my actual art practice, not just in my sketchbooks.

My daily art started out as miscellaneous subjects.  Every day I'd have to find something to draw; often a small object or piece of fruit that happened to be on the table, or something I drew from a YouTube video, or a random doodle.  Some days turned out better than others, but every day I had two challenges: first, finding a subject, and second, actually drawing it.

I knew this would happen.  I've been doing daily art for 15 of the last 16 years and I know that when you start with a new set of rules it takes a while to get into the groove.  It took me longer to get into this groove than it has in past years, but toward the beginning of May, after my drawing class had ended, I found myself doing some mental evaluation, and came to several realizations:

1.  My most important tool in realistic drawing was probably my eraser.

2.  I didn't want to be an artist whose most important tool was an eraser.

3.  While it might be fun to draw bananas or scissors now and then in my sketchbook, there was no way that I was ever going to incorporate them into my actual art practice.

4.  I love to work in ink, especially the very finest of pens.  I like the fact that you have to live with the line you draw (see realization #2). I love working with a dip pen and liquid ink, but it's way more efficient to use a Micron pen.

5.  My hand is not steady enough to draw perfectly straight or perfectly curved lines, but I love the look of slightly unsteady lines, so I might as well embrace the flaw.

6.  I like abstract, doodle-like drawings more than pictures of actual objects, probably because they allow me to make intricate, complicated compositions.

7.  I do better when I work in series, exactly what I have been practicing and preaching for years in my quilting practice.

Tomorrow I'll start showing you how those realizations are playing out in my daily drawings.  Spoiler alert: I am so delighted with what's happening, I can hardly wait to get up in the morning and get my sketchbook!