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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Some stories and tips about drawing


What for?

On the 9th of June, I gave one of my first drawing lesson about how to draw a still life.It was quite new for me, especially for giving this in english. I remember that I actually did one lesson among friends of mine in Nantes (France), but this was obviously into my comfort zone. This is also what is about EVS, get out of that comfort zone.

Before that day I tried to find beautiful objects for the composition. Usually for my own exercises I don't try to compose something, because I consider that the most beautiful subject is our own mess. The remains of a diner, the open laptop on a messy bed, tossed clothes, books or papers around... Because it has storytelling. We can feel that there is life behind, rather than just put some flowers into a jar, then on a lovely tablecloth, just with the purpose of drawing it, because it means nothing to you.

But for this lesson i had to find objects, so I've been to Salon Uporabnih Umetnosti, because it's a nice vintage place. I could borrow old objects, which already have a story: a teapot, cups, glasses, bottles, a lamp converted into a bowl to put fresh fruits at the last moment. I tried to create a scene with those object, to make it lively. It was quite okay with that composition, but I've decided to put two compositions, one simple and one more complicated. On the complicated one I've put an old alarm clock, a light bulb, a bottle... Those object had basically no link between them, it was just made for the exercise, with only difficult things to draw. The people were clever enough to not choose this one.

The purpose of the workshop was to draw that composition with only grey values, in an 'academic way'. It means with no personal 'style', but just as it is, with a particular way to built the shadows, according to the volume, with hatchings, according to the source of light. This is a really good exercise, and what is really the best is doing it as much as possible, trying to draw everything around us, outside, landscapes, people. No need to go to Africa or New Zealand to find the most interesting animals or landscapes. You can basically go into the train station, a shopping mall, a museum, taking live model courses, draw yourself, or go to the zoo. Everything is a potential subject. You can also work through pictures. The best though, is drawing the reality because your brain will have to convert the 3D into 2D. You must try to think that you are a 5 years old child, and that you've never seen those things in your life, and/or that you don't understand how it's working. A lot of people make that mistake, they draw what they know, and not what they see. It is only the idea they have of the reality, and trust me, it's never accurate.

There is absolutely no point in just trying to reproduce a picture as a final artwork. It is a means, not an end.

The students were good and got caught up with the game. But I noticed something bad, is that a lot of them felt frustrated to not be able to do it as they expected, and they were basically too severe with themselves. It was their first drawing lesson !
In my opinion, the ability of drawing in the minds of people in general is too much considered as 'something we have or not'. It is denying all the work we need behind before having a correct level. And the bad thing is that a lot of people give up because they think they are not good enough. They just need to keep it up... I believe only in the capacity of improving quickly, this is the only gift we can talk about. Some people of course progress quicker, it's true in everything, but they do work. And then when you know how to draw the reality- you don't stop- you can play with it and break the rules, find your style, etc, but very important, not before (breaking the rules). Study hard the reality and you will be able to draw the most crazy stuff on the paper, simply because your brain will have that library of datas and will be able to play with it and it will have consistency.And above all, it helps you to understand what you are drawing, how it's working. Even if it's about a monster with four arms (volumes, muscles, perspective, attitude, proportion...).Even if you do caricatures, characters with big noses (like some classic french comic books:) ) as long as we can recognize it, you need to have the basis. There is no shame in studying the reality, the best artists have references when they work. There is actually any merit in saying that it comes out from your head, because it is simply impossible for the result to be good, unless you studied your subject hard like hell, but usually people who are proud to say it just didn't. So basically I present to you some of my favorite artists, working on their paintings or illustrations, or giving tips, with obvious references. If you keep all of that in mind, you'll go far away. Something else you need to know : you will mainly get unsatisfied, it is part of the job, you can be happy about some results, but it's never the end of your progress, you will always always go further and further all your life long. You'll be like the wine, better through the years ;)

Disney illustrator and animator Aaron Blaise video tip

Illustrator James Gurney video tip

The same guy, using here references of the begining ot the century for a steampunk style illustration (which takes place in a famous square of Nantes, my former town! So obviously highly documented background as well)

Illustrator Norman Rockwell:

Painter and illustrator Gil Elvgren:

Illustrator Paul Bonner 
 This is his studio. For this step, he is using a picture of mountains for help about colors. And a lot of his previous sketches and studies he is keeping around.

James Jean sketches:

Please stay curious, not only about drawing, but everything: dance, movies, books, radio, exhibitions, music, theatre, design, sculpture, history, geography, science, documents, fashion... And also: people, your friends, landscapes, buildings, animals, your boy/girlfriend sleeping... Everything!  And above all: enjoy.. It will be visible in your work. 
Don't fear the fact of being wrong. You can always start all over again and nobody will see it. 
Thank you for reading this post! 

Cécile, from France

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