I’m aware of two kinds of practice from other disciplines – sports and music. The first develops basic skills like shooting free throws or playing scales. Practicing drawing straight lines, basic shapes, and hatching comes under this first category of practice. The other type develops dexterity which is the ability to perform well under varying conditions. Typically this kind of practice involves repetition without repetition like shooting baskets from different points of the court or playing the same passage of music at different speeds or dynamics. These people sketches are my first attempt to develop dexterity in drawing. I used the slideshow feature in the FlickStackr app on my iPad to display Creative Commons pictures of people for 20 seconds each. I drew with my Sailor calligraphy pen on a Strathmore 9×12 inch Bristol Vellum pad of paper set up next to my iPad. When the next pictured displayed, I stopped wherever I was and moved over on the pad to begin the next drawing. Each drawing was a modified contour drawing. I looked mostly at the iPad, but occasionally I peaked at the drawing to reposition my pen. After five minutes I stopped and assessed my work. I then turned the piece of paper over and did five one minute sketches. I was surprised to find that spending three times the time did not produce three times better drawings. I figure I can do this ten minute exercise every day. We’ll see what happens in a week.
Oregon Garden Stream Watercolor
Today was another beautiful summer day. I went for a walk in the Oregon Garden and sat on a bench next to a tranquil bubbling stream to do this sketch. I first sketched the scene in my Stillman & Birn Zeta series 6×8 inch spiral bound notebook with a light blue watercolor pencil. I then added ink with two pens. I first drew with a Platinum Carbon Desk pen which has a very fine nib, and then I added wider marks with a Kuretake No. 8 brush pen. Both pens are filled with Platinum Carbon Black ink. It dries quickly and is waterproof.
Oregon Garden Stream Ink
I added the watercolor later at home. This is the first time I’ve tried sketching across two pages in a spiral bound notebook. It’s tough to paint around the binding, but I like the way it turned out. By the way, the dog is a metal sculpture. I had no trouble drawing him, because he didn’t move.
Viewfinder Sketch Setup
I’m a photographer. I like to use a viewfinder to frame and compose a picture. Today I tried using a viewfinder made out of a 3×5 card clipped to my Moleskine pocket notebook. I first drew a frame the same size as the viewfinder and added guide marks on the edges using red erasable ink. I then sighted through the viewfinder and sketched the major shapes again using the red erasable ink. Then I used black ink to finish drawing and shading the trees. Later I erased the red guide lines with a hair dryer, and scanned the image.
This worked reasonably well. Next I want to tape the viewfinder so it hinges out to the side from inside the front cover.
I’m trying out a composition aid on the iPod Touch called Digital ViewCatcher. It uses the iPod’s camera to explore different views and try different formats. It can also show a grayscale version of the photo and a sketch version and allows you to overlay various kinds of grids. I compared it to what I could also do in Sketch Club.
I like the ease of using Digital ViewCatcher to quickly test out different views and formats. However, the images it saves to the camera roll are too small. Sketch Club can save at higher resolutions and I can overlay rulers and angled guidelines.
Next I put it to the test outside. I sat in a chair in the backyard with my iPod Touch and sketchbook in hand. I took a picture, cropped it and added guidelines and rulers. I drew two 3 inch squares on my sketchbook. I sketched the scene in front of me by eye in the top square. Then, looking at the grayscale/guideline/ruler image on my iPod Touch, I used a six inch clear ruler to measure and draw the guidelines with red erasable ink in the bottom square. After sketching the scene, I thought it could use a figure as a point of interest. I did a screen capture of a recent video I shot of my grandson, cropped it and added the figure. I then sketched the figure into the scene.
Composition Test Process
Here’s what my sketches looked like with the red guidelines.
Composition Test with Guidelines
I came inside, scanned the sketches, and then used a hair drier to erase the red ink. (I like to use a Pilot FriXion erasable ink pen). I then added some shading and scanned the sketches again.
I was surprised by how different the two sketches are. The composition aid really did help. It’s probably not worth the effort for a simple sketch, but this shows that it would be worthwhile to use this technique on a plein air painting.
So, how do you draw a panorama of a small room showing everything on all three sides? I did this one using a projected panorama photo. I used my iPod Touch to take the panorama from the doorway of the room.
Then I used my 3M Streaming projector to project the image on my Moleskine watercolor notebook. I used a Pilot FriXion erasable pen to trace the major shapes. Then I sat and sketched the detail of the scene with a Micron 02 pen using the erasable pen sketch as a guide. That took about an hour. Here's the finished pen drawing after I erased the guide lines with a hair dryer.
After resting a bit and having a bite to eat, I came back and added watercolor using a Kuretake Mini waterbrush and Faber-Castell watercolor pencils.