The holiday season is always a busy time of year, family and family traditions take up most of the time. Before it starts we think how much we will
get done when all that free time arrives. Then it hits. There is barely enough time to get all the necessary preparations, shopping, visiting and
decorating accomplished, let alone doing any art. It’s natural to think of art as completed paintings, requiring a significant commitment of time, and so we don’t begin.
Perhaps we should think instead in terms of honing skills in smaller projects. Drawing is the perfect answer. We don’t have to set aside hours of
time to do a drawing. The great benefit is that drawing teaches us everything we need to know anyway if we are going to do a painting, but it
only takes a fraction of the time. No technical concerns, no medium to get in the way, no clean-up, just direct observation and joyous mark-making.
What would be a good subject for a drawing? The answer is, anything! Pick up a pair of scissors, your camera, or purse and draw it.
This sack was a perfect subject for the practice of seeing relative values.
Pull out some photos you have considered for future paintings and do quick drawings to plan a painting. Decide things like the eye movement through the composition, the pattern of lights and darks, the area of dominance, what things you could leave out of the painting. Watch the drawing progress and. Don’t think of it as an act of recording a collection of things. Think of it as arranging shapes and values within a format. These drawings are valuable sources for painting.
Portraits are excellent subjects, as the topography of the face is a study in planes and volumes. Time spent drawing faces is never wasted time.
What you learn from doing it will pay dividends in the future. Here is a suggestion. Instead of practicing from your own photographs of family
members, use the photographs of others. After all, this is not for public display, only for practice. A great source is an internet photo-sharing
site. I belong to one called flickr.com. If you go to the flickr.com site and type rock4art in the search window you will find me. You can choose “search everyone’s uploads” and type in a subject like “homeless” and you will pull up photos from all flickr members who have posted photos with “homeless” in the title.
Here is a drawing I did a couple of years ago from a photo posted by a flickr member in Moscow. This face was a study in planes and also in leaving
thin lines for whips of hair. My challenge was to draw the beard without drawing hairs. So I studied the patterns of values and drew the patterns
instead of hairs.
Most flickr members join multiple groups. There are many groups for drawing and watercolor, oil landscape etc. I joined a group called Julia Kay’s Portrait Party. The rules in this group were simple – post only paintings and drawings of other JKPP members – artists drawing artists. Here are a few portraits I posted of fellow KKPP members.
So sneak in some drawing during the hectic break and anjou the search. I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas filled with love and joy, and that you have a most rewarding 2014, filled with growth and learning. I plan on it.
Happy New Year!