Keeping on Life Drawing

This is possibly going to be quite a long blog post! I’m going to do a recap of my last 7 weeks of drawing. As ever, in chronological order, unedited – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I like posting in this way, as I think it gives an honest, unbiased view of how my work is developing. Of course, I have favourite drawings, but it’s funny when I go back and look at drawings later, sometimes my feelings really change. I might see something in one that perhaps before, felt like an ugly duckling, which I really like.

I’ve also made some really interesting discoveries over this last 7 weeks or so of drawing. I started to feel very comfortable with charcoal, and decided to change medium. To make life harder, to work with a less flattering medium – big thick marker pens. And from there I’ve gone on to experiment with coloured pens too, and later coloured chalk pastels too.

One of the big things it’s been fascinating to discover is the difference that the paper can make. This probably sounds bloody obvious if you’ve studied fine art, but when you’re mostly following the self-taught approach, it’s a major revelation. The difference between a porous, coarse paper sucking the ink out of your somewhat expensive, nice, art marker pens – putting up resistance as you pull your line across the page AND then trying out glossy smooth brilliant white shiny illustrators paper, where your pen glides across the page like a knife through melting butter. So different!

And suddenly I understand where illustrators and video game designers style comes from. (Valencia has a big videogame design school so quite a few of these designers come to the life drawing groups here). Their style is incredibly precise and controlled, with delicate cross-hatching niftily put in, carefully contained on small sheets of (I think expensive) paper. Everything my style isn’t!! But as I drew on the silky glossy paper, I could feel element of their drawing language coming through in my work. An utter surprise.

Anyway, less chat, on with the images ….

001 Last couple of charcoal sessions

These were the last two drawing sessions working in charcoal, where I realised that I was feeling increasingly relaxed as I drew. Of course there are things I struggled with, and bits I’m not so keen on. But I was feeling pretty okay with how things were looking – the energy of my lines, the style and approach that was starting to emerge …

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Again this session I really enjoyed, especially the early poses.  In the longer poses, I could feel my brain getting a bit restless and my drawings becoming a bit too ‘thinky’,  rather than instinctive.

 

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So it felt like time for a change ….

 

002 Trying out big thick pens
I was bit nervous about switching away from the soft, smudgy, forgiving-ness of charcoal to marker pens. I think I had some deep feeling and need for brutal, simple, contour lines.

 

In the first couple of drawings, you can see I was really trying to use the pen as if it were charcoal. Which doesn’t really work. As the session continued I started to find my way with lines, how to make them strong and interesting. But don’t get me wrong it took a lot of faith to keep on going, even as things were feeling ugly, wobbly and initially not desperately pleasing!

 

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And then by a bizarre stroke of luck, two days later, the same model was at another life drawing group I attend. The perfect opportunity to continue working on my pen technique. In between, I’d also spent time looking at my pictures. I figured out that even though I loved the bold contour lines, I was struggling a bit with putting in tone. So I decided to try out working with a mid-grey tone pen.

 

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The other big difference with this session was it was my first time drawing at an easel standing up. I really enjoyed it – it makes it way more physical.

 

003 Feeling the paper
Still working with pens of varying thickness, this was the session where I really felt the difference the paper makes. The brown porous paper, sucking in the ink, my pen rasping across the surface vs. the ice white glide of illustration paper!

 

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004 Yellow dress
My first time drawing a model with clothes! It felt like time to experiment with colour. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the whole thing – both the clothes and the colour. Think the amazing yellow dress helped!

 

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005 More colour
Once I’d broken out the big fat colour marker pens, I didn’t feel like going back to black and white any time soon! First up, experimenting with coloured chalk pastels.

 

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Then more of the colour marker pens too …

 

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So all in all, I’m so glad I branched out from the comfort of charcoal and experimented. Definitely with each new medium I had an initial feeling of awkwardness, not knowing, my left-brain having a little fret about it not looking too nice. But actually just persisting and sticking to a medium however much my ego was yelping, feels like its been really fruitful.

 

It’s been a really valuable few weeks of drawing. I feel enboldened to keep experimenting and that something I want to seek in my art practice is to keep moving. Keep evolving. Seeking out things I don’t know, engaging with them. Developing my own understanding of them.