Monday, July 14

Getting Started with Pencil Sketches

Since there were several new visitors to the blog over the weekend, I will take that as a sign there is interest out there, so I will press on. Don't forget, you're retired now and have time to do this. Isn't it great!?

When I left off Friday I was going to put gesso over four acrylic paintings I decided weren't worth keeping, a task which I completed. I feel that I have in some small way failed those canvases not to mention the time and materials expended; however, I got over it pretty quickly and assume it goes with the territory (of creating art).

By the way, I wasn't sure if gesso were a trademarked name or not and should be capitalized. With all the new tech terms around, what did I know? Turns out gesso is not trademarked and is the Italian word for board chalk from the Greek word for gypsum - thanks Wikipedia. There's just a whole lot more about gesso on Wikipedia if you're into chemistry.


I mentioned receiving a set of good hard- and soft-lead pencils, which was the excuse I used to start drawing again. I don't know if any of you ever experienced anything like this, but it was such a pleasure to start doing something again that you really liked doing but haven't done in a really long time. I had forgotten a lot of the basics, but like riding a bicycle, it comes back to you pretty quickly. I spent several weeks reacquainting myself with the techniques of line drawing, shading, cross-hatch and the use of perspective in drawing.

One of the things I did to was to borrow one of my son's architectural textbooks from his college days. This one was called Architectural Drawing, A Visual Compendium of Types and Methods. Don't let the academic sounding title put you off, and I'm sure there are a lot of other similar books on the subject, but this one worked for me. Really, it helped. Of course, there's a lot of information in there that only applies to those who plan a career as an architect, such as the chapter on Conventional Orthoganal Terminology (ugh). But I found a lot of great and useful information in two chapters in particular-one on Representational Sketching and the other on Light, Shade, and Shadow.

For example, the chapter on sketching provided a method for sighting using length-width-height to help you transfer what you're observing to your sketchpad (or canvas or whatever) so that it's in the correct proportion. The chapter on light, etc. was a great review on light source, surface shade, and shadow and how to figure out how and where a shadow falls, for example. Yes, yes, the book is overkill for the casual artist, but the info is pretty basic stuff for drawing most subjects be it the still-life you're staging on your kitchen counter or that landscape you're planning to paint.

The point is to start somewhere, do something to jump start your "yen" to draw! You don't have to use an architectural textbook to help you get started. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other sources available to you (think internet). In my case, I used something close at hand that helped me to get going.

For your viewing pleasure, I added another sample of one of my beginning pencil sketches at the top of the blog. Similar to my previous drawing, this one, too, was taken from one of the set of books on cooking (this one from the cooking of the British Isles).

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

I'll go on some more tomorrow about how I restarted my penchant for drawing and discuss yet another source that helped me in renewing my art skills. Right now it's already afternoon, so I need to get back to my "studio," such as it is.

I'll try not to jump around too much with my subject matter, but blog it pretty much as it happened chronologically speaking; however, now and then I may drop in something about what I'm currently doing. I mentioned Friday I may re-work one of my acrylic paintings (one of the ones I gesso-ed over), and I did - hint, I've recently gotten interested in the Impressionists.

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