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The A to Z continues with O, P, Q R S and T . . .
O is for Oregon (at the time that this was written, I was preparing for a three-day drawing workshop that I was leading in Portland, Oregon, USA).
I am passionate about drawing. A book is on the way, though slow progress as it is developing alongside teaching workshops, preparing for exhibitions, writing articles for Art publications, the day to day running of my business, keeping up with commissions (that is my income) oh and actually getting to do some painting once in a while! but meantime: The thing about drawing is that it should be enjoyable. Sketching in particular should be fast, immediate and about catching a moment that can be developed later or simply for the joy of capturing a movement and attitude.
"Most people think of drawing one way, as a linear outline, starting at the top and then continuing through the full silhouette. It is entirely possible to draw like this but it is a difficult approach not to mention narrow. Because the reality is that there are many ways to draw.
In drawing workshops I ask people to work through a series of exercises based on Ten Approaches to Drawing, which was originally based on my life drawing experiences - if we use these approaches in Life Drawing, then why not apply them to other subjects?
The Ten Approaches (though there are actually many more than just ten) help to generate drawing ideas for beginners who are hesitant to explore and gives students with more background in drawing more ways to use their skills and discover and strengthen their natural style . . ."
You can read the rest of this online article, written for the ArtistsNetwork, here: https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-mediums/drawing/10-different-drawing-approaches/
P is for Process.
(At the time of writing, my A to Z had been disrupted by B for Block, R for Real-Life and F for Feeling c***, but eventually came back with P for Process).
The image is a painting 'Reflected Glory' from a few years ago with the sketches (yes I stood on the XC course at Burghley with my sketchbook and camera) and a couple of work-in-progress painting shots. If you look back to L for Life Drawing you’ll see how the 30 second warm ups help with drawing horses moving, and drawing horses moving helps with Life Drawing!
My creative process is to sketch from life or from my mind, then refine those drawings with (my own) photographic reference and use thumbnail sketches to work out a composition. Alongside that I often write in my journal about my thoughts and feelings about the subject – this is where seemingly random connections are made that help to move my ideas forward, so the writing is very personal ‘stream of consciousness’ type scribblings along with scribbled images – very cathartic, give it a go!
Some of my work and study (especially my Life drawing) is pure Process. Being concerned with Process not Product (I have to credit and early riding mentor: American classical dressage trainer Paul Belasik for that phrase), stops me becoming too focussed on the outcome and allows my creative back-brain to do more of the work. It is a form of Mindfulness – existing in the creative moment or like a sportsperson finding the ‘sweet-spot’ by being in ‘the zone’. It is a balance of thinking and not thinking, and finding the balance is always the hardest thing. But so worthwhile to keep trying.
Q is for Quarters
My OH is always teasing me that I like to draw and paint horses’ rear ends - well as you can see not just horses!
R is for Reproduction – already a blog post so follow the link to read the full copy . . .
This one took me a while for me to post. I was trying to cut the text to be able to post on instagram but failed in that endeavour so it had to become a blog post!
The image is the proofing and quality checking for my ‘print’ (reproduction) ‘Breathe’.
What most of us call prints are actually reproductions - to see some terms and explanations you can read the full text here:
S is for Sketchbook.
I most always have a Sketchbook with me. For me it is where I go to sketch (obviously) both from life and ideas from my mind, to plan and develop drawings and ideas, to inspire myself, to lose myself . . . it is my Mindfulness and the only form of Meditation I have found that doesn’t make me want to scream and punch something.
My sketchbooks have won awards and are what people want to see at Open Studio events but are firstly an integral and vital part of my working creative process.
Click on the vid to see a flick through of one of my current sketchbooks (I usually have 5 or more in various sizes on the go at any one time). You will see I have left blank pages where I will return to develop drawings into painting compositions, page markers for particular ideas and lots of writing. I also write and draw in a more personal journal every day.
If you want to learn more I am leading an ‘External Mind’ Sketchbook Workshop for @pureartworkstudio in North Oxford, 30th to 31st October.
T is for Transitions
Transitions are the movements between areas of tone or colour in a painting – more commonly known as edges. As I continuing learning about painting I find that transitions are more and more important to me and my work. I already knew this in drawing (and in dressage), but it has taken a while (years) for me to understand and apply this in painting.
Where is a hard edge or strong transition of tone? Where is that edge softer, where is there no edge at all? Working solely from photographs makes this harder as a photograph tends to flatten and coarsen edges, but it is in that flow and rhythm of transition that the painting gains atmosphere, expression and interest, so my photographic reference is increasingly put away at key points in my painting to allow the piece to develop without being constrained by an external visual source - as in my watercolour painting and charcoal drawing of Arabian horses. I am also working more towards using no reference at all, as in this demonstration piece at the 2018 Great Yorkshire Show.
It is all in the eye!