Sunday, June 29, 2014

Drawing Leads to Painting

Two things have recently resulted in my drawing for drawing's sake. For quite a long time the only drawing I've done is comps and prep sketches for paintings. But by not drawing the world around you, you cut off an interaction that is the starting point of creating. Where do ideas come from? They don't arrive full blown. Or at least not very many do. When you draw, you see things.

The first thing that led me to break out my sketchbook and draw, was that I wanted to set an example for my students ... to encourage them to start sketching as part of their day. It took only a few pages in my sketchbook to rekindle the desire to draw. I had forgotten the zen-like absorption and peace that falls over me when I draw. I love that it is back in my life.

The second revelation was that the moment I started to draw, I started to have ideas. I saw interesting things. I noticed the way a tree stood out in front of a hill. I saw the value pattern in a row of windows on the upper story of what had appeared initially to be a very ordinary building.

I became an renewed advocate of the belief that to be a good painter you have to be a good drawer. For the past three months, my painting class has included a drawing session one day out of the month. I am so happy with the results for my students that I am permanently adding one drawing class a month to my painting courses.

I also started the Temecula Urban Sketchers. Quite a few of the beginning drawers I have met have asked questions about how to move from drawing to painting. Many urban sketchers sketch and then add watercolor to their graphite or ink drawings. Watercolor or gouache is certainly more portable than sketching in oils. My suggestion is start small ... and just start. The easiest way is with a small kit with a limited palette, using water brushes. You can carry that and a pen or pencil in a pocket.

Cathy Johnson uses a muted primary palette (red, yellow, blue) of Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet, Gold Ochre and Indigo.

In this example, Johnson uses four colors; Venetian Red, Payne's Gray, Yellow Ochre and Phthalo Blue.  She has everything she needs in each little kit ... a pencil or pen, a water brush and color.

Vladimir Tuporshin also has a very minimal kit, but one with a few more colors. He has only six items; watercolor box, ink pen, waterbrush, a clip, a fold of paper towel and a moleskine watercolor notebook.

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