This is my conure, Pepper. Like my cat, she’s very photogenic and lends her image to a lot of artwork. The one below was an experiment with my grandchildren’s watercolor crayons. It looks elementary like the medium I was using. I think the texture of the paper was too pronounced.
Here’s an acrylic painting of her from a previous post. What a dignified profile!
Cats are wonderful models because they mostly ignore you and remain as they are when you walk up with a camera or sketch book. Meeps is my daughter’s cat that came to live with me when she moved across the country. I was reluctant to take him at first because we’d just lost an elderly cat and I didn’t want to get involved with another so soon. However, he quickly stole my heart and has been a great source of ideas for artwork. Like a born model he tends to pick sitting areas with great lighting.
In the previous post I wrote about drawing things from the viewpoint of the passenger seat. These have to be super fast sketches because of the length of our visual memory, so my drawings were tiny renditions of individual objects.
This post is about drawing the things you may encounter at stops along the way. The top drawing was at a cafe in Fort Davis, Texas. I would love to have gone into more detail on that ivy but ran out of time. As I mentioned in a previous post about on-the-spot drawing, sometimes you have to let go of the idea of a finished drawing or you may never get started on one in these situations.
This is the picnic area at Sand Hills State Park near Monahans, TX. If you ever get a chance to go there, you’ll find that it’s like the beach without the ocean. They even have plastic surfboards for sliding down the dunes.
This shade tree was at a rest stop near Sweetwater, Texas. Taking a dog along on a trip gives you more reasons to stop at places like this. See the windmills in the background? Wind farms are a wonderful sight to see in west Texas.
I saw this truck while sitting at a Sonic Drive-In in Monroe, Louisiana. I got the tires out of proportion to each other, but it was necessary to spend some of my time there eating a hamburger (actually a delicious steak sandwich which are not available at our local Sonic).
This palmetto was at a service station also in Monroe. Since we were only there to get gas (and boudin) I didn’t feel that I had time to do it justice so I took a picture and drew it later from the phone gallery. Soon I’ll do another post about using a cell phone camera as a source of models.
This is another sketch-book prompt that can yield endless ideas. The process is similar to the add-on drawing except that you work from photos instead of taking subject matter from your surroundings. Just collect a bunch of interesting pictures out of old magazines and put them in a folder to take along with your sketch book. Here’s the process for creating a composite:
Choose a photo from the folder and draw something from it anywhere on the sketchbook page. (Feel free to leave out details you don’t want.)
Choose another photo and add that into your drawing.
Keep adding things until you fill your space.
Let some things touch or overlap.
Finish with color, pattern or shading. Or leave it as it is.
The objects you compile into a drawing may or may not be related subject matter. In my composite above, I was using mostly landscape elements when I got the idea to turn the drawing into a Tower of Babel scene. To do that, I needed to get rid of some Grand Canyon rock formations I’d drawn in the background. Since I was working in pen, I couldn’t erase them, so I used a craft knife to cut them out and wound up cutting out the whole sky as well. (It was really hard cutting around all those tiny branches!) I replaced the sky by gluing the drawing onto a colorful watercolor wash. (It was very difficult to glue down all those tiny branches!) Then I colored the river to reflect the sky and create a unified effect. Finally, I added the kitty in the lower left corner as a nod to my cat loving friends.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Babel, here’s a good article about it.
I did the painting above from a photo of a some zinnias in a flower bed at a local nursing home. I’ve posted it below so you can see an example of how I work from a photograph.
As you can see, I changed some things and left some things out. I’ve found that if you just use a photo as a general reference or just a starting point, it will set you free from just copying and make your work fresher and more original in quality.
I confess that I didn’t photograph this eagle. But it was a fantastic subject for practicing expressive brush strokes. I departed a bit from the expressive thing to get that eye nice and clear and add the sharp claws. Some things about eagles are just not negotiable.