There is simply something cool about having a hobby that requires you to use tools and to take care of those tools. I know roleplaying has ten-side dice and big fancy cool books, but it’s just not the same. I understand now how fishing can be enjoyable without actually catching anything. I found myself getting all “geeked-out” while lining up my drawing pencils and sharpening them just right; the point has to be sharp, but a long bit of the lead has to be exposed too. (Pictures and more after the jump) .
Before my holidays, I had decided to go back to basics with my drawing. I had let my basic drawing skills languish over the years. So I got myself a rather excellent book on drawing:
“The Complete Guide to Drawing and Illustration”. It’s a well thought out course, designed to get you drawing full pictures straight away and build up a strong process. Drawing is simply a skill. Art is in the expression and the composition. Everyone can draw so I bugs me a little when someone says “I wish I could draw”, because they can, they’ve just decided they can’t. I shouldn’t get so irate about it though as it’s this exact mentality that made me consider my drawing as a secondary way to creatively express myself (writing became my first). In school there were a number of very talented artists, who were simply better. As I went through school, I ended up comparing my results to their work and found it lacking. Rather than try and improve and ask for help, I did the teenager thing and sulk about it and since then I’ve let my love of drawing dwindle.
The introductory text reminded me of exactly why I like drawing. My wife says that I’m a man of simple pleasures, it’s not what you draw or the end image that is important but it’s the act of drawing that gives you pleasure and capturing “something” in the end result, an expression, a tone or a strange shape. Drawing, in itself, is not complex but is engaging.
So with this long holiday planned, I decided to pack my drawing stuff. I was excited about picking up my pencils and pens again. Chargey is in the east of France, lost in the country side and properly soaked in the summer sun. The house is old, several generations, filled with old paintings and antiques going back to Napoleon times. A great place for finding subjects to draw.
I do have one complaint about the book, but it is minor. All the examples are done by the author, Peter Gray and he’s a professional. His images are wonderful. I’d love to see work done by some example “students”, just to compare with my own. Or maybe that’s a bad thing. Anyway, the first exercise was a mug. A simple exercise in lines and circles. It was fun and simple to do. An interesting side note is that, no where in the book does he suggest using rulers and compasses to get exact shapes, just guidelines and freehand.
[singlepic id="80" w="320" h="200" mode="" float="right" ]The next exercise then was some basic shapes, rectangles, cylinders, etc. Most drawing books try and get you to draw a cylinder from one hundred and fifty different angles. Following, logically, on from that was organic shapes, such as fruits. It was at this point he introduce “composition”. I never worried about composition before. It is always one of those “advanced” topics in other books. They’d expect you to able to draw whole bodies perfectly before worrying about composition, but Peter makes a good point: a badly drawing picture can still work if the composition is good. It’s something I never considered before, but he’s right. The way objects are laid out and from where you view them is just as important as how well you depict the shapes on the page. If the composition is wrong, the whole picture is wrong before you begin. Shape and composition is actually enough to start doing full drawings but there is two more components missing. One is shadow and tone, the other is…