Sketchbook: Doodles and disasters
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  1. #1
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    Doodles and disasters

    I have been drawing and painting on and off for years. Not sure if I really made any progress. But perhaps this thread will motivate me to draw more, and perhaps it will serve as a useful record to me or someone else, of one amateur's progress. Or lack thereof: sometimes it seems to me my work is getting worse and worse rather than better.

    Now and then a sketch works out nicely, but for this thread I intend to post all or at least many of the horrid ones as well. I have a feeling it will be more of a learning experience that way. So here goes.

    A weathered leaf from earlier this year:

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    Sketches done from the TV. I attempted a caricature-style sketch of a character from the film "The king's speech," which I was watching with friends. It ended up not really resembling the character much, but that's hardly a surprise, considering I struggle to capture a likeness even when the model keeps still.

    The other page contains some sketches done of musicians, and once again I found it very challenging, because the TV camera focuses on any one for just a few seconds. I'm not sure if this is a great exercise to force my eye to learn to see, or perhaps precisely what one should NOT be doing! Perhaps I'll learn in due course...

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    A sketch done from a reference photo, something which I dislike doing, but I get tired of my own ugly face in a mirror. Somehow, everything I try to draw from photos end up looking absolutely horrible, which is why I nowadays try to avoid reference photos.

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    And some still life setups, some from a year or two ago, illustrating neatly how I lost my touch through lack of practice and working too much from reference photos - the old ones seem to me better than the more recent ones!

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    Hey there!

    Doing really well with your TV exercises, I could definitely see the character in your drawing! Love that film, isn't it amazing? One idea I have for you is pausing the image for, say 30 or 60 seconds. The you can spend a little more time on observation, my dad used to do that. Still have to move quick, mind, but you will improve very quickly, I promise.

    Aand don't dislike reference photos too much. After all, can't draw from life all the time. Try to pull the values more if you do draw from reference though, as you have more time to play with your greyscale.

    Best wishes,

    Ana

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    Your still lives look really good, but I think your portraits could use a bit more work. The form is in there, but I'm missing some volume and realness that you do have in your still life. Consider it a challenge

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrownLullaby View Post
    Your still lives look really good, but I think your portraits could use a bit more work. The form is in there, but I'm missing some volume and realness that you do have in your still life. Consider it a challenge
    Hehe, with the still lifes I can of course get away with errors in proportion and so on, that immediately show in a portrait, which is partly why portraits are such a challenge. I know what you mean: my drawings have a sort of flat, two dimensional quality to them, and when I try to deepen shadows I end up with a portrait that looks like the person has mud on his face rather than shadows!

    I should perhaps do some more self-portraits, perhaps in candlelight, so that there are very sharp contrasts between light and dark. I am reluctant to work from photographs. As I mentioned, I find it extremely unsatisfactory. Perhaps I should go look for old master works on the web, that have a lot of shadows. I have learned much in the past from copying old masters, such as the one I attach, but I haven't really tried to explore deep shadow yet.

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    Some recent sketches. A vampire girl based on a character in an absolutely awful made-for-TV movie, but drawn mostly from imagination. Clearly I have much to learn about drawing people!

    Also some sketches done at a local bird reserve; some Egyptian geese politely kept fairly still for a while, giving me an opportunity to get down some details.

    The tree came out rather flat and amateurish; I'll have to go think about it a bit and try again.

    All except the vampire girl done in ballpoint pen, and all quite small sketches, about size A5.

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    I really like the michelangelo drawing and the colored mango (is it?)
    nice work! keep posting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarkuzy View Post
    I really like the michelangelo drawing and the colored mango (is it?)
    nice work! keep posting
    Yup, a mango: wonderful fruit. Apart from blue, you can often see every colour of the rainbow in a single fruit.

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    Nice mango. Also your stuff is definitely coming along nicely, keep up the hard work!

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    "This is a paint and pixel-splattered furnace that forges the swords of artistic mastery. This is a place where swarthy and belligerent dwarves drink turpentine mead, berate their apprentices and slap the trade into their skulls. It's where the anvils are made of graphite, the hammers are as true as rectangular marquee selections and the fires burn with the light of a thousand lensflares." --Jason Rainville
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    These aren't disastrous at all. The still lives are really good.

    I think an issue you're running into, especially with the drawings from photos and imagination, is that you're thinking in shapes rather than forms. Shapes are 2-d, forms are 3-d. Instead of envisioning your subject as interlocking shapes, try 'seeing through' what you're drawing, and breaking it down into cubes, spheres, cylinders, etc., and then constructing it on the page from these. It would solve the flatness issue that you mentioned, I think.

    Have you read Andrew Loomis' books? They're free all over the Internet, and he goes into this at length.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcpahl View Post
    These aren't disastrous at all. The still lives are really good.
    Thanks for the kind words.

    I think an issue you're running into, especially with the drawings from photos and imagination, is that you're thinking in shapes rather than forms. Shapes are 2-d, forms are 3-d.
    Yup: I learned to draw the Betty Edwards way, and tend to see everything as interlocking shapes. Well, that is one way of looking at things, but I think in my case it has become a bad habit that I rely on too much. Which is one reason for doing lots of sketches from life: I think it will help me to see things in 3D again.

    Thanks for the advice, I think it is quite spot-on.

    Here are some more waterbirds sketched at the bird reserve; ibises and ducks. It's quite a challenge trying to draw moving targets! But also great fun; it's almost like hunting without the blood. ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post

    Yup: I learned to draw the Betty Edwards way, and tend to see everything as interlocking shapes. Well, that is one way of looking at things, but I think in my case it has become a bad habit that I rely on too much.
    It's not necessarily a bad way to draw; Richard Schmid mentions in his book that he paints in a similar fashion. But he's also got 50 years of experience, and he didn't start painting like that until well into his career.

    The birds are getting better. One thing that I think would improve them drastically is to do some avian anatomy studies in your down time, when you're not drawing live at the lake. I haven't drawn a lot of birds from life, but it seems like the feathers and movement would obscure the finer points of their skeletal and musculature systems; if you were to figure all that stuff out through studies, you could take your life drawings to another level.

    In the words of John Constable (or was it Voltaire), 'We see nothing truly until we understand it.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcpahl View Post
    It's not necessarily a bad way to draw; Richard Schmid mentions in his book that he paints in a similar fashion. But he's also got 50 years of experience, and he didn't start painting like that until well into his career.

    The birds are getting better. One thing that I think would improve them drastically is to do some avian anatomy studies in your down time, when you're not drawing live at the lake. I haven't drawn a lot of birds from life, but it seems like the feathers and movement would obscure the finer points of their skeletal and musculature systems; if you were to figure all that stuff out through studies, you could take your life drawings to another level.

    In the words of John Constable (or was it Voltaire), 'We see nothing truly until we understand it.'
    Yes, I have noticed a very neat book on drawing birds at the local library, that includes notes on their internal anatomy. Might be a good idea to go borrow it and see what I can learn. I just love birds, and it is one wildlife subject that is quite freely available in the city.

    In the meantime, another still life sketch:

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    I have decided to practice drawing from observation a bit, because my abilities there leave a lot to be desired, and I think it is really the first step towards anything else. So here's another still life arrangement:



    Struggled a bit with the complex whirls of the light bulb, and the shiny white of the mug: I think I should have put the objects against a dark background. That way they might have looked like white objects.

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    Great stuff mate, really liked one of the colored graphite drawings (think it was the last or second last one). GL!

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    The salt shaker looks awesome. The distortions of the glass is great. The detail on some of your pencil sketches is also very good, especially the leaves. Someone above mentioned a lack of depth and volume in your works. I noticed this a bit too. Everything feels a bit too light, maybe? I would say try going just a shade darker in the shadows, and a shade lighter in the highlights. This will bring out the forms as well as increasing the values in each work.

    Anyway, keep it up, looking good so far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Falling Up View Post
    The salt shaker looks awesome. The distortions of the glass is great. The detail on some of your pencil sketches is also very good, especially the leaves. Someone above mentioned a lack of depth and volume in your works. I noticed this a bit too. Everything feels a bit too light, maybe? I would say try going just a shade darker in the shadows, and a shade lighter in the highlights. This will bring out the forms as well as increasing the values in each work.

    Anyway, keep it up, looking good so far.
    People have been telling me for years that I should go a bit darker, and I keep on being too terrified. ;-)
    Actually I have already improved in this regard though. You should have seen how light and two-dimensional my sketches used to be! I work mostly with HB pencil, which of course makes it a bit difficult to get deep darks. I'll eventually get me a few softer pencils and see what happens.

    Thanks for the encouragement; I appreciate it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post
    People have been telling me for years that I should go a bit darker, and I keep on being too terrified. ;-)
    Don't be afraid of ruining your drawings.
    Michelangelo tore down one whole section of the Sistine Chapel because he thinks it looks ugly!

    "If the wine is bad, throw it out!" - Michelangelo

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  31. #21
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    good stuff my friend. keep it up

    Sketchbook

    my subconscious does not stop begging my conscious to draw.
    hmm does that mean im a slave to my subconscious?
    at least it doesnt beg for crack. ha.
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    Your still life sketches are great, you have a good eye for tones. I'd challenge you to do a pencil sketch of something metallic, chrome metallic, that's always a bitch of a challenge.

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  35. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pocoyo View Post
    Your still life sketches are great, you have a good eye for tones. I'd challenge you to do a pencil sketch of something metallic, chrome metallic, that's always a bitch of a challenge.
    Now there's a good idea. Soon as I have time. Let me go look around in the kitchen to see what's available... ;-)

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    More sketches of waterbirds at the bird reserve. This time round they didn't politely sit still, and I found capturing them almost impossible, but I have this feeling things will greatly improve with a bit of practice.

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    A piece of broken bottle, that I picked up on a sidewalk and that made for an unexpectedly interesting and challenging subject for a sketch.

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    A dry perspective exercise. Dry perhaps, but useful and necessary. I have never bothered with perspective before, so I guess it is just about time. It was absolutely freezing cold here today, so I sat in bed with a clipboard doing this thing. Not ideal, but better than nothing. ;-)

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    A corkscrew. I'll need much more practice to learn how to get metallic objects to really shine. Drawn with HB mechanical pencil on printer paper. Perhaps a softer pencil, to get deeper darks, might help, although with soft pencils I find it difficult to get those very sharp boundaries between light and dark, which I suspect are what gives a drawing of metal its metallic look.

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    Hey BlogMatrix, may I know how old are you?
    After looking at some of your posts and your SB recent updates, I'm starting to find you a real inspiration!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    Hey BlogMatrix, may I know how old are you?
    After looking at some of your posts and your SB recent updates, I'm starting to find you a real inspiration!
    Thanks for the kind words. I'm 44; been drawing for years and years and years, making progress at a pace that makes a glacier look like an F-16.

    But it sure boosts my ego to know I'm an inspiration to someone.

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    Decidedly not one of my better efforts. It's clear: I can't draw metal! Something new to make a study of then.

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