Because of pain in my neck (too much mousing?) in this post: four drawings, but no story.
Danny Gregory writes in his book The Creative License about using color as a beginner:
“I’d hold off on the color for now, too; stick to black ink on white paper. (…) I stuck with one type of black pen for my first year and then added a single additional warm grey marker.”
But I’m a sort of restless and couldn’t resist the temptation of bright colors, so I bought some markers, liquid watercolors and wax pastels after half a year. I must admit: I got overwhelmed. I love the colors, but I have no clue what to do with them.
Sure, I can use them for adding the same color as the subject I’m drawing. It worked very well with these eggs. Without the yellow they didn’t look like eggs and with color they do. The scan isn’t as yellow as the original 😦
In the book Drawing Lab of Carla Sonheim there is an exercise to paint random forms of watercolor and then look at the forms whether you ‘see’ an animal, a foot, a face or anything else familiar. I found this anxious guy.
In film school I learned that one of the best way of testing the color quality of film stock was by shooting a test of the face a woman. We as humans seem to be very sensible of the color of human skin, in this way we can see whether somebody is sick, when the face is green or pale.
As a cameraman I learned to look at shadows and lights, so that is now the way I approach a portrait. I choose three or four colors for the face and attach one color for a different kind of darkness in the face.
My neighbour and artist Elspeth Pikaar made the remark that when you make a drawing in black and white, your brain fills in the forms. This effect disappears as soon as you use color. Therefore I end with two portraits without colors, so you brain can do the rest.
I like to sit in a café. I read a newspaper, write and since half a year I draw my cup of coffee. Or I draw the people sitting there. Sometimes I feel unsecure about drawing other people. Will the person not be annoyed that I stare at him? Will they be angry, irritated or just simply not feeling at their ease? Should I ask permission?
In a few cases the person I draw looked at me and notices I’m drawing him, then I smile friendly. A few times – when I know the person in the café – I announce that I’m going to draw her. Some people become very self-conscious.
I don’t ask, I just go ahead and draw, but I usually pick people who are involved in reading or talking or something. Depending on the person, if they notice me I either smile and ask if they mind (if they look friendly), pretend to be drawing something beside or above them (cowards way out, lol) or offer to show them. It really depends a lot on how I’m feeling.
Peter Sloan answered:
If they do notice and get upset, remember, it’s always easier to ask
forgiveness than permission.
I’m really curious what your experiences are. What do you do in this occasion? What is your
UPDATE February 19th: I just found this interesting discussion on the topic on Flickr (I love the Internet).
UPDATE December 24th 2012: Andrea Joseph wrote about this subject on her blog. Three years ago she described herself as a “reluctant public sketcher”, now she is drawing on planes, and in airports, cafes, parks and streets.
My great-grandfather, Jacob Keller (1872-1956), wrote every week in his diary. He was a well-to-do farmer near Dordrecht, The Netherlands. I transcribed some of his writings and published it online in a blog (in Dutch). Most of his diary entries are logging the weather and about what work he and his workers accomplished over the week. It was a tool for managing his farm, but he also had aspirations to record for future generations about the way he runs his farm and how it was done in the past. Very rarely he wrote about his personal worries and feelings. For example when he wrote a very beautifully obituary about his dog who passed away in 1914. I admire his style of writing. I suppose he loved poetry, because sometimes he cites poets in his diaries.
I don’t think he ever attended a creative writing class, because this kind of teaching didn’t exist in the village where he lived in that time. So I conclude he mainly improved his writing by writing every week, by reading other writers and by being interested in writing appealing prose. So what I learned from his diaries is that by writing regularly and having a structure (one evening a week over more than 50 years), you improve the writing. I don’t want to deny that it is inspiring, useful and fun to attend classes or conversations with fellow artists. But a large part of the learning is done by doing. This is almost the same as what Danny Gregory preaches: learn drawing by doing it. (After learning some simple basic stuff, he summarizes the book ‘Drawing on the right side of the brain’ in less than 20 pages.)
Besides that my great-grandfather was a good writer, he also was a succesful farmer. I suppose he was, because of his weekly reflections in his diaries.
The drawing above does not have any connection with the story. Or maybe it does? It is both about the influence of a dead person. The above mask is used by the Asmat when a member of their tribe is murdered. One of his fellow tribesmen will dance with this mask whole night long, representing the deceased. Through this mask communication with the deceased is possible. I did draw it in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam (The Royal Tropical Institute).
This is a fragment of my great-grandfather’s writing in one of his diaries