The previous post was about taking a closer look at our surroundings in order to find subject matter for the sketch book. Whereas that post dealt with seeing potential in the ordinary, this one is about seeing detail. Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time- like to have a friend takes time.” The drawings above are about the practice of taking the time to see the smallest details. Details can be color, line, or any number of things. These are primarily about surface textures.
The ability to see and render texture in a convincing manner is key to realistic drawing and painting.
The obvious problem with drawing animals is that they will not pose on demand. So, unless you are working from a photo, you will need to be able to draw quickly. In the book On-The-Spot Drawing, artist Robert Frankenberg recommends starting with animals that are resting or asleep.
Once you’ve observed the subject in a few still drawings you can move on to putting down some quick lines to catch them in action. This technique is called gesture drawing. Its purpose to capture the action or essence of a subject by drawing rapidly. I usually try to capture the image with light gestural lines and then go back and add darker contour lines for more definition and detail.
There are some video tutorials online and many books that deal in depth with the subject gesture drawing, but here are a few basic principles to begin with: 1) It helps to first spend time closely observing a subject to see how it moves. 2) Begin each session with some warm-up scribbling to loosen up. 3) Work with a ballpoint pen to begin with so that you are not tempted to erase. There may be a few extraneous lines left over when you’re finished, but these add to the gestural feeling of the work. Be like Elsa and “Let it gooooo! Let it goooo0!” 4) Don’t be discouraged with your beginning results. Like playing a musical instrument, action drawing takes practice, and improvement comes with repetition.
In a previous post about on-the-spot drawing, I wrote about drawing while riding in a car. The drawings I posted were views of the passing scenery. However, you can also take the opportunity to sketch the people and things in the car with you. Here are a couple done from the back seat view point. Same person, same hat, different days.
On my next road trip maybe I’ll get some some good sketches of our dog. More about drawing animals in the next post.