Since I started to draw I noticed I have a lot of unwritten rules about drawing. For example: drawing from a photograph is not so good, tracing a drawing is unacceptable. I let go of the first rule rather quickly, when I joined Julia Kay’s Portrait Party I started to draw from photographs and I had a lot of fun. The last part of the rule is harder to break.
A few weeks ago I saw a beautiful view from the ferry when I crossed the river to the North of Amsterdam, I photographed it with the intention to draw it. Then I imported the photo in the Brushes app and I traced the photo on another layer. I was rather inhibited tracing the photo, I can’t help feeling ashamed about it. I’m not the only who has these strong emotions about tracing. Illustrator J.E. wrote about tracing: “I was born into a social and family environment with a certain artistic pretentiousness about it, and in this context it was considered quite unacceptable to copy or trace an image. Credit was only given to the ability to create interesting and original images using real life as inspiration as little as possible.”
Well…I traced this image and I’m showing this ‘lesser art’ to you anyway.
I found in the Flickr group Julia Kay’s Portrait Party an interesting discussion about tracing.
I did use layers, but didn’t understand it really and couldn’t control them. I found this YouTube video with a good explanation, which helped me a lot. I used layers extensively in this drawing with the Brushes app.
If I go to the app-store I can find a lot of drawing apps. Which ones are interesting enough to explore? Julia Kay is my first source to go to. She leaves wonderful iPad information on the net. On YouTube there is a 2010 video in which she explains together with Valerie Beeby 20 apps in 50 minutes. On Julia’s Flickr account she wrote also about her favorite apps.
This drawing is made for Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (JKPP), my first drawing made with the use of layers.
I visited my parents this weekend and found some old drawings and paintings I made in 1982, thirty years ago when I was 15 years old. They were made during a drawing class I visited once a week during one year. The charcoal sketch I liked at that time, but I found painting in acrylic so difficult and disappointing, that was one of the reasons I stopped.
My daughter started to draw animals, from a how-to-draw book, and I joined in. She is very satisfied with her results. This is rather new, she used to be very unsatisfied with her own drawing, especially if she wanted to draw realistically.
About 14 months ago I set out to draw my partner 100 times. Last summer I lost count, because I worked in two notebooks at the same time. Yesterday I sat down to count the drawings and I found out I did draw 94 portraits of him. These are the last ones.
We went to Antwerp two weeks ago and there I remembered our visit to this town in 2005. We exchanged houses, and the owner of the house in Antwerp was an illustrator. His materials and table was there in the living room. I sat down and drew a tomato. I was so disappointed with the result that I didn’t touch a pencil for another five years! The most important part of Danny Gregory’s book “The creative license” was for me page 43 (There are no bad drawings) and pages 54 and 55: “Living well through bad drawings”. The answer to disappointments: just draw, draw, draw.
(Pages 22 till 42 were also important to me. After I bought the book “Drawing on the right side of the brain” of Betty Edwards, I found out these pages are a summary of Edward’s book. Danny Gregory’s summary and writing style are much more fun though and I also like his drawings more.)
I bought the book Zen seeing, zen drawing. Meditation in action by Frederick Franck. It reminds me of some of the things Danny Gregory writes. In Danny Gregory’s book License to create there is an exercise to draw a bagel, and draw every, every sesame seed on it. In the same vein Franck begins with the exercise to draw a leaf: “Keeping your eyes riveted on that leaf, let the point of you pencil start to glide on the paper, and feel as if the pencil point were caressing the contours of the leaf.” I’ve read only a small part of Franck’s book, but it inspires me a lot. It makes me appreciate Danny Gregory’s work even more. In Franck’s book the drawings are about nature, landscapes and people, Gregory’s work incorporates the more day-to-day objects. I think a bagel is as interesting as a leaf or maybe even more interesting. Nature is often conflated with spirituality, but I myself really love and get in awe by the production of the human mind: all these objects we make and surround us with. And that’s what I like about Danny Gregory, Michael Nobbs, Nina Johansson and other Urban Sketchers.
The curl on the middle of his forehead in this 63rd drawing of my partner is especially inspired by Franck.
(Franck also wrote “The zen of seeing”, does anyone read this book?)
I found out that in a community house nearby one can draw every Thursday a life model, without a teacher. Especially that there is no teacher pleased me. I certainly want to learn things, and I think I would like to have a teacher in the future. But I don’t know yet who that teacher will be. At the moment I’m doing fine with comments of friends (IRL, Flickr and EDM), some books and my own eyes (looking at my own and other’s work). And of course: I draw, draw and draw.
These are the drawings I made in the community house “Buurtcentrum De Pijp” of model Bert. He brought some great CD’s with music he liked (Daniel Lanois, Laïs). Some songs of Laïs were so weird, that I started to draw even weirder.
This drawing was inspired by JKPP member Jerry Waese:
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