Action Poses

Drawing an animal or figure is commonplace in the art world, but it takes time and practice to find the action in the image, to capture it and bring it to life for the viewer.

Take the image below as an example.

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This is my dog, Dexter, and this pose speaks volumes about his personality. This is what he does every chance he gets – he cuddles. I could draw his face straight on, but what would that capture except the average face of a golden retriever? A head tilt, a telling pose – those are the tiny evidences of personality that can bring a drawing to life.

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Again, a snuggler. Her expression is one of laze and contentment.

'Map' - graphite, white ink
‘Map’ – graphite, white ink

This shows Map’s friendly face, and it gives her a pose of comfort. Someone looking at this drawing can easily deduce that she is a house cat, and that  she’s approachable. The forward paw and the curled in paw – these are both action poses that introduce the viewer to Map as an entity, and not just a drawing.

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Try something new instead of the portrait pose, and I guarantee that you’ll like the results.

Copyright

I am not a lawyer!  I never wanted to be one, though I’ve been told many a-time that I could talk my way out of anything.  I’m pretty sure that’s the signature of a con artist, but perhaps they are one and the same?

Okay, bad joke.  Don’t hate me if you’re a lawyer.

I thought that this link might be interesting to artists, including photographers, composers, painters, etc.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office

 

 

 

Educated vs Self Taught

I love to browse artists’ websites to see the different styles of work that people do.  Sometimes I get inspired to try something new, which is always a good thing.

A while ago I saw something on an artist’s website that got under my skin a little bit.  That particular artist posted in her ‘About Me’ page that she was an educated artist, and that unlike self-taught artists, she knew what she was doing.

Ouch.

I looked at her art, and it was good, no doubt about it.  Was it better than mine, the art of a self-taught artist?  No, not really.  Her style was very simple and not super detailed, but it had a nice, soft quality to it.  It was nice.

What is the difference between a self-taught artist and one that has been formally educated?

Artists who go through the formal training get to know the parts of the body, like bone and muscle structure, and they practice doing the same things over and over again until they get it perfect.  There’s obviously a lot more than that, but this is just to give a reader an idea on what I’m talking about as far as “educated” means.

A self-taught artist practices and practices until things look right.

In the end, do I care exactly what the muscles are called?  Not really – it doesn’t add anything to my finished product.  It is super important, of course, to understand where muscles/bones are and how they’re shaped, or else drawings will come out looking kind of weird.

All the same, it’s practice, imagination, and observation that  will dictate the level of success that an artist will have.

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This baby in progress, for example, is a few lines and some shading.  I can look at the photo and see where the shading and shadows should be.  The next time I draw a baby, I’ll know about the chubby cheeks and round little nose, and I’ll be able to produce it again.  It’s all just practice and experience and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Acrylic Painting

I’ve been experimenting with acrylics, because there is something about acrylics that really appeals to me. Watercolor is fun, but there’s a certain type of wantonness about watercolor painting that connects me more with the abstract and random. I feel like I connect with different mediums in very diverse ways; pencil drawings lead me toward realism, pastels lead me to cartoonish pieces, watercolor to the free-flowing and abstract, and acrylics with a deep seated type of sentiment.

Acrylics draw out my darker thoughts and feelings, which exhibit themselves into my work. I started the painting that is in the title photo of this post, and I felt like I could really connect with it. It’s far from complete; the main subject has yet to be added, and of course the finer details of the water, sky, and beach are still missing. I think, though, that the viewer can ascertain the frame of mind and the world that I came from while working on this painting. The painting was inspired by a photo that a husband/wife photography team took, (visit their page here) though my interpretation is darker and lonelier.

How do different mediums affect you?

Tutorials

I’ve been pretty slack with adding tutorials – I know it. I’ve been so busy with my full-time job and commissions that I just haven’t gotten there yet.

My intentions over the next few weeks are to do some more tutorials, including:

  • how to draw a simple rose
  • How to draw animal hair/fur
  • Whisker techniques
  • How to draw feathers

I think the tutorials will be fun to do, and hopefully they’ll be helpful to many people who are starting out.

More to come soon!

 

 

Finishing a Drawing

Some people find it difficult to figure out where to start with a drawing, while others (like me) have a hard time finishing one. Both problems can be super frustrating, but both problems are equally simple to solve; just get the job done. Start somewhere, shade something. Work on it piece by piece until it comes together.

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I’d never show someone my millions of sketchbooks. They are so full of half-assed sketches and experiments that they look like piles of garbage. That garbage, though, is my inspiration. Those books are evidence of the hours and hours I’ve dedicated to practicing this craft.

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A partially finished drawing is nowhere near as satisfying as a finished work. It holds so much potential and promise, but it’s just like a giant ball of potential energy; it needs to be made kinetic to become useful. It becomes something to be proud of. There is nothing worse than walking away from something that should be great, if only given the chance.

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Sometimes it’s necessary to walk away from something that just isn’t working… but don’t make a habit of it.

What Should I Draw?

This is a question that comes up constantly in art communities on Google+ and Tumblr.  Sometimes it’s a cry for attention, but sometimes it’s a legitimate question.  Maybe the artist is a beginner and doesn’t know where to find inspiration, or perhaps the artist is bored of his/her niche and wants to try something new. 

Whatever the case, drawing inspiration can be found literally anywhere.  In an earlier post, I wrote about learning to see, and noticing the subtle details that make our visual world what it is.  This means practicing angles and curves, and to practice drawing only what can be seen – not what can’t be seen.

This approach doesn’t work for everyone, though, because a lot of people love instant gratification.  They want to draw a masterpiece right away – forget about practicing!  I myself tend to be guilty of this habit; I want to see a finished product that I can be proud of.  I don’t want to see random angles and circles! 

So.  How to find inspiration?

Here are some ideas:

1) Look out your window and draw what you see.  A tree, a building, a courtyard… Anything!

2) If you’re at work, draw something that’s on your desk, or draw your coat that’s hanging on the back of the door.

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3) Look online for inspiration – but remember to respect copyright.  Google your favourite animal or character and try to draw it.

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4) Draw a bottle or crumpled up piece of paper – these are classic practice items.

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5) Make some random scribbles on a piece of paper, look away for a few minutes, then go back and see what you can create from those scribbles.  This is another classic exercise, but a little more fun because it truly draws from your creative side.

These are all ways to find something to draw.  Find what piques your interest and get started!

Happy Customers!

In case you missed it, I’ve been hard at work completing my first charcoal portrait of a beautiful Great Dane named Draco.  Great Danes are known for their size, but also for their characteristic faces, which makes drawing their portraits both challenging and interesting.

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Draco

I dropped off Draco’s portrait this morning to his very pleased pet parents, who proudly show off their new piece of art!

 

Should I Use an Easel?

Ah, as you walk amongst the throngs of Parisian street artists, you see that some of them have easels nestled comfortably under their canvasses. Confusingly, you also see some artists who are using their laps, and let’s not forget the dreamers who are using artists’ board. Who is right?

Don’t bother trying to peak over someone’s shoulder in order to compare results; chances are, they’ll all be good.

Many mainstream artists will say that an easel is necessary to avoid losing the 3D-ness and to get caught up in the foreshortening of the drawing, and while that may be true for many, it’s not the case for everyone!

It takes some practice to get accustomed to using an easel, because there’s no longer anywhere to rest your drawing arm. The whole process can feel awkward and uncomfortable, but like many things, it gets easier the more you do it and get used to it.

I myself have an easel, but I don’t use it very often. I like to think of it as my travel companion; it comes out of its case mainly when I’m away from home, or sometimes I take it out to place finished works on it until I’ve decided what to do with everything.
In general, I use an artist’s board. It’s smaller than an easel, fits in a portfolio bag, and I can sit with it on my lap when I’m working. The downside, of course, is the horrendous posture that comes with hovering over the board.

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As you can see from the image of my unfinished drawing above, an art board can still be used effectively to achieve good results.

I also have, in my beloved art studio (a colorful room in my basement that contains only some shelves, yarn, and piles of art supplies), a glass art desk that tilts. It’s much more posture friendly, while still allowing me to comfortably tilt my work. It’s a fantastic thing to have, but definitely bigger and pricier than an easel or board.

My point is that what you use is up to you. Don’t knock anything until you’ve tried it a few times; something as subtle as your drawing support could make a world of difference to your end product.

Trying Different Mediums

Art is like anything else where the ground is unfamiliar.  People get skittish and don’t want to attempt something new in case of failure.

But guess what.

You will fail.  If you’re smart, you’ll try again.  If you’re really smart, you’ll keep trying until you get it right.  There will be no prouder moment in your life.

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I drew this Final Fantasy X character way back when I first started drawing, and I really thought that she was the bees knees.  Even now, many years later, I look at this drawing with a sense of satisfaction.

Is it the best drawing?  Hell no!  Could I do a ton better now if I were to redraw it?  Absolutely.  That’s not the point, though.  The point is that I decided to pick up the pencil and give it a try, and the result at the time was way better than I could have hoped to achieve.  This drawing inspired me to continue and to move on to greater things.

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Only today I decided that I wanted to give pencil pastels a shot.  Believe me when I tell you that I hate failure just as much as anyone else, but what did I have to lose?  A few bucks on the pastels, but I’d have them no matter what, so I can always try again later.  The image above was just some messing around that I did to get a feeling for the pastels.  I wanted to see how they’d blend, how they’d cling to the paper.  I got cocky and decided to try for a masterpiece.

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Say hello to Masterpiece.  Meow.  Not quite (or at all) what I hoped for, but hey, it was my first time attempting to use this medium!  With some practice and a ton of luck, I think I’ll eventually be able to make something out of these demon pencils, and that’ll be a moment that will equal the satisfaction that I achieved from that Final Fantasy character.  I’m looking forward to it.