Friday, June 18, 2010

reminders for on-location sketching

tanyard luck
You may remember me describing last week how this drawing at Pleasant Hill was a struggle to make. I felt early on that it would never see the light of day as the composition was simply not coming together. But, in an effort not to give up too soon [something I'm tempted to do all too often these days], I forced myself to keep going and see what I could learn from completing it. Here's the notes I took as I drew. I think they'll help me in the future and hope you find them valuable as well.

Things I learned (or at least was reminded of) while completing this sketch:
  • avoid drawing spaces/places without a lot of detail too large on the page: too much negative space leads to a boring viewpoint
  • avoid trying to add watercolor to a big drawing with a teeny-tiny brush
  • let your watercolor strokes follow the path of the material you're rendering: in this case, because the brick is horizontal, my strokes would look better that way too
  • look for ways to 'frame in' drawings for added dimension (i.e. tree branches)
  • balance green, green grass with bits of red: here I mixed red and green paint together for the shadowed areas
  • scale figures are ALWAYS helpful...too bad I'm missing them here
  • brick is not typically red: be suspicious of any paint, marker, or pencil labeled 'brick red'
  • always have a paper towel handy for blotting up potential watercolor mistakes
  • pick a direction of light, even if there isn't one : it will help convey three-dimensionality
  • if all else fails, count on the lucky four-leaf-clover your godmother just picked up for you
Have questions about any of this? Please leave a comment and I'm happy to clarify.


Laure Ferlita said...

Have to say I'm partial to the paper towel for potential mistakes and pick a light direction whether there is one or not, but all of these are excellent reminders!

Karen Sandstrom at Pen in Hand said...

Great list, Suzanne. Especially the scale-figure thing, which I tend to forget.
I want to add one thing to your list, in a general sense: Remember that a disappointing drawing doesn't have to make a disappointing sketchbook page. Your page here, for instance, becomes more interesting with that four-leaf clover.
But the addition of other things-- tiny doodles or drawings around the page, words, whatnot -- can turn almost any Uh-Oh Page into a Well, OK! Page. And believe me, I make frequent use of that trick.

blogaloorgirl said...

thank you for the very helpful tips Suzanne.

Krista Meister said...

love the "be suspicious of any color named brick red" and my personal favorite is to rely on the 4 leaf clover idea. Glad you are sketching more again!

raena said...

Excellent tips, Suzanne! I keep relearning the lesson of not using too small of a brush! There are many others in this list which I hadn't considered before, so I'm taking notes here!

PS You asked if I preferred drawing men with mustaches now. I do, but I like drawing any face that has some uniqueness. It's the ones that look 'normal' that I have a difficult time getting a likeness! Thanks for your comment. I so enjoy your work!

cindy said...

you forgot - bring suzanne because she'll do it better!