Today I’m offering two paintings for £55 – two ink on wood sketches of a boat in Eigg’s Pier Bay. (Also, as mentioned I’m away for a week so the next post will be Saturday 12th May. I’m always contactable by email at email@example.com)
One of the reasons I like working with pallete knife, or ink, is that the effects are slightly unpredictable, this gives the painting a less ‘tight’ dynamic. It’s like un-learning how you see, and there are various ways artists do this…
My first experiment with this was pre-art college, while taking life drawing classes. We were asked to attach our charcoal to the end of a foot-long paint brush and draw with it, which sounds completely counter-intuitive because you’d imagine more control would be the way forward. But it helped me make stronger decisions, also to stand back a little from the paper to see what I was doing.
If you’re someone who draws or you’ve been to art college, you probably already know this, but another well known example is to draw a picture from an upside down image. (I’m going to give you an example to try out at the end of this post, so have paper and pencil or pen ready if you’d like to give it a shot!)
To show what I mean about loosening up your drawing, here’s one of my early drawings pre-art college ..
Very detailed, but no expression. I’ve tried to draw everything in an attempt to get it right. Rather than look for the essentials I’ve included every crease and fold. I was probably standing about an inch away from the paper! As a consequence it looks un-spontaneous and kind of…adolescent! But it doesn’t make me cringe, I can see I was committed at least.
Later in my first year in art foundation class. We’d spend 7 hours at a time drawing from life under the tutelage of Bill Gillan (he gave great advice and went on to become the President of the SSA – Scottish Society of Artists). I’ve just looked online, to discover that he’s now very unwell, and I’ve also missed a recent exhibition of his work, so I hope there’s another. Link to exhibition Here where you can see a couple of his paintings)
Here are some of my drawings from Art Foundation class…
You can see the struggle to ‘see’, but I’m starting to make better decisions and trying to pare it down. Also letting myself make mistakes.
(The eye on the left is my own, looking a bit ‘starey’ for obvious reasons! On the right is my niece Emma’s eye when she was three)
This last one shows I’m getting the hang of it, and starting to say more with less, so the drawing has more energy and tension.
It’s a bit of a pity that I’ve lost all the later drawings, which did get better. Somewhere among my various flat-moves I misplaced them.
But I didn’t pursue life drawing as I was more interested in landscape, particularly water – first through 3 D work (example below). Then through painting. I prefer the freedom of painting landscape to painting portraits and find more expression there.
But I do still enjoy line-work and illustration, especially in ink – so occasionally dip back into it..
My sister in a canoe. And a horse
On the left, one of my favourite illustrators, Pauline Baynes who illustrated the Narnia Chronicles.
Hmm, ‘Canter Bree, canter’! Not quite the same energy, it was very good practice though..
And now, here’s that upside down drawing (don’t look at it the right way round!) try it out – just draw the shapes, do it quickly and don’t worry about mistakes, then when you’ve finished turn it up the right way, it’s very interesting!
Lastly three lesser known sketches from the very best (the above sketch is Igor Stravinsky by Picasso):