At the rate of one short endeavor a month, I wouldn’t expect to get much better at climbing, and so it isn’t much of a surprise to me that I haven’t improved much at drawing over the years. I don’t spend nearly as much time as I would like to on it, but it’s fun, and since this website is a snapshot of myself, why not have a page about it?
Art is supposed to be this wonderfully creative endeavor, but when I try to draw things from images in my head, they mostly turn out disproportionate or cartoony or both. I don’t mean cartoony in the good sense – like a comic strip or something – I mean it in the sense that it’s supposed to look real, but doesn’t. It’s just bad. So, the stuff that I have kept is mostly straight out of pictures in magazines or the like. It is not a failure of artistic vision, but a failure of artistic execution. I’ve come back around to the problem of not practicing enough.
But enough hedging and excuse-making. I do most of my drawing with a mechanical pencil. The first two pictures are examples of some things that I’ve done recently with my trusty pencil. I covet the well-used art boxes that I see ‘real artists’ carrying around, covered with splotches of paint and filled with a cornucopia of cool things. I’ve even started to buy some of the things that would go in such a box, but I don’t seem to actually pull them out very often. When it comes right down to it, I guess I like the simplicity and ease-of-use.
I have experimented some with charcoal pencils. My first tiny steps away from my beloved mechanical pencil. This drawing of an old woman in a hat, is one of my first (and only) tries at doing something with charcoal. Pencil’s come in different hardnesses, ranging from 8B (super soft) through 2B, B, HB (progressively harder) to the hardest pencils for the fine lines in technical drawings that go from H to 9H. I bought four charcoal pencils – HB, 2B, 4B and 6B, labeled for the beginner (me) as hard, medium, soft and ex-soft, respectively. I have to admit that having charcoal of different hardnesses to work with is a good thing. All the drawing books that I’ve looked at recommend having a range of pencils with different hardnesses, but I never really appreciated why until I did this picture. Smudging the charcoal cool – but a bit chaotic. I never was really sure what effect I would get, or how to undo my accidental smudges.
Occasionally, I have the urge to add some color. My friend, Jessica let me borrow the huge set of high-quality pastels that she had, and a book of pastel art to imitate, so I spent an evening experimenting on some construction paper that I had laying around. This is one of the best pictures that came out of that night. I had a lot of trouble blending the colors into something smoother, but I liked the way that this rough sketch turned out. I bought a travel watercolor set too, and even tried a painting. It wasn’t terrible, but I should have picked an easier subject than a skier. Snow is tough. With watercolors, anything that is white is unpainted paper, and dealing with a spray of snow against a blue sky was more than my experience with negative space and watercolors could handle. Maybe next time I’ll try an apple or something.
Actually, Yosemite Valley offers a free art class every day from 10am until 2pm. The classes are given by a variety of artists that change each week. Some of the classes are for watercolor, some are sketching classes, and the one that I attended was on ink painting. Maybe I’ll go to another one on watercolor and see if I can improve on that somewhat.