Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the easel

Sorry for the lapse in posting, and apologies in advance for some of the lapses to come. Things might be a little patchy between now and the end of March as I try and get everything ready for the first few conventions of the year. Between work, a large print run I am doing myself (including some framed very limited edition canvas giclees), a complete website facelift, taxes, family visiting and a whole lot of other little things the blog is taking a bit of a backseat.

In the meantime though: here is something cool I am working on: it is a private commission so no NDA!

I don't usually go quite so nuts on my underpaintings/block-ins. But with the effect I am trying to pull off on this one, getting my values and color relationships spot on is very important, so it seemed like a good idea.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More drawings, and some incoherent rambling on drawing for illustration.

In my last post I mentioned that I had gotten away from the red pencil drawings because I was worried the media might be influencing my assessment of the overall image. I want to expand on that thought today and explain my general philosophy for preliminary drawings.

In essence, I try and draw in as boring a style as I possibly can. Everything I was ever taught about attractive draftsmanship goes out the window. Thick and thin line weight, loose charismatic linework, cross hatching, etc... I am not having any of it. While all those things are very important to creating a good drawing, I don't think of my prelims as drawings. In my mind they are blueprints, a means to an end, and therefore function must come before form.

One of the hardest challenges an artist faces is imbuing a sense of life into their work, creating something that "breathes" instead of just 'shows". A somewhat common issue I have heard from several illustrators over the years is that the final painting lost some of the life that was in the sketch. There was some indefinable spark in the sketch that just didn't translate to the painting. When I looked at the sketches of these illustrators, they had many of the traditional characteristics of an attractive drawing that I mentioned above. It made me think that maybe that spark had come from their technique instead of something inherent in the content and that is why it didn't show up in the final.

Therefore, my thinking is that if I draw in a boring manner, and the image still has a breath of life in it, then I know that life is inherent in the content, not the technique, and will transfer into the final every single time.

Just to clarify a few things: by content I mean things such as composition, gesture of the figure, facial expression, storytelling, etc... Fundamental image-making concepts that are independent of style and media. I should also mention that I do start out with much looser and gestural technique, I just choose to erase and clean up as I go along.

Lastly I should mention that I arrived at this way of thinking on my own, it wasn't something I was taught. Therefore, there is a very real possibility I am dead wrong and I am giving everyone bad advice. I would love to hear other peoples thoughts on the subject.