Monday, June 29, 2015

Attacking Hands: The 500 Hands Challenge

Hands drive me crazy. I have always practiced them at intervals, but it hasn't been enough to get me where I want to be with them. Wanting to be better (and faster) at drawing them led to a conversation with some fellow illustrators. One fellow proposed the "500 Hands Challenge". The timeline: Beginning June 1, 2015 and ending October 1, 2015. I accepted.

Here are my tentative and awkward first three.  Realizing I was needing more of a plan than just randomly drawing a few hands a day, I came up with the following outline:

June: Copy other artist's hands to learn by studying the masters
July: Continue copying, adding emphasis on gesture along with the study of hand anatomy
August: "Deliberate Practice" using Stan Prokopenko's method of the same name; 
1. Make a mistake
2. Analyze it, imagining what it should look like
3. Re-draw and fix it until it is right 
Watch the video here:
September: Apply all the above, but draw every hand from imagination

Here's an early page of hands drawn from those of Maxfield Parrish, Arthur Rackham, and W. Heath Robinson.

And a more recent set from Vilppu and Bridgman. Jumping the gun a bit where anatomy is concerned, too.

After more conversations with the instigator of this challenge, I realized that the gesture piece needed to be put in place early on. His recommendation to check out the Vilppu methods was helpful--the Vilppu manual Drawing Hands and Feet is amazing! 
Find the book here:

This week a few of us are meeting over a beer to discuss our progress, and most of all to share what we know and have discovered in this first month of the challenge.

I'm a fifth of the way into it, and yes, this is pretty much killing me. Finding it very difficult to cram in concentrated hand studies along with my workload, but it's past time to do it--I need to do it.

Wish me luck and thanks for checking out the post!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Heart Sketches and Drawings 2

 Ent Wife sketch


It's been said that if everyone meditated, the world would be a kinder place. I agree. More people oughta sketch too, for the same reason.

I've been very lazy lately, thus am behind on every project. So this post is about one sketch I did when I should've been seriously working on those aforementioned projects. Yep, I'm a bit frantic now, but don't regret doing this drawing.

Seems like, at some point, every magazine or newspaper since (at least) the 60s has tagged each new generation as the "laziest" bunch ever seen on the face of the earth. And I don't remember a time when old folks weren't grumbling about the same thing. Lately, probably thanks to soulless Fox News propagandists, and serious Tea Partiers [do they even know how to party?] it seems the "once-a-hippie-now-a-conservative" group (read hypocrites) are freaking out--blaming the Millenials for having no work ethic.

I was too young to be a hippie--I'm a tail-end boomer who can be lazy just like every other human being. But I conscientiously try not to be a mean-spirited hypocrite, or believe every "trending" (that word gags me) media freak-out. And I know how to party--even if my idea of partying is a day spent with my sketchbook.

At least when I'm lazily holding a pencil I can't point the blame-finger.

Monday, June 15, 2015

I Heart Sketches and Drawings 1
If I had to choose between making finished artworks or drawing in a sketchbook, I'd choose the latter in a heartbeat.
I love sketchbook drawing because of the freedom; no deadlines, no restraints, and no pressure.
If I start worrying about whether a sketch I'm making is "good", it's time to put the pencil down and take a walk or something, because the whole point of a sketchbook is staying in the present; experimenting, learning, and playing.

And if I had to choose between looking at finished paintings, or checking out sketches by other artists, my choice would be the same. Viewing the sketches and preliminary drawings of other artists will always top my list of joys and necessities.

A page from Albert Hurter's sketchbook...

 ...and a sketch by Edward Lear.

Both these sketches/drawings get my heart pumping. I have that reaction much less often in a museum or gallery filled with gilt-framed, finished paintings, because sometimes (not always) the artist's self-awareness in a finished work is too obvious. It's like reading a novel where the author's read-between-the-lines-message is "Isn't my talent precious and amazing?" Ugh.

Give my eyes (and my ticker) a fresh, spontaneous sketch any day.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Sad Comparison

Visited Kansas City (for the first time) last week for Spectrum Fantastic Art live, and was struck by the aesthetic of the city. And I'm in mourning (and not for the first time) because,
compared to my hometown of Denver, the skyline was pleasing; a mix of old and new architecture. Unlike Denver, Kansas City seems dedicated to renovating its historic architecture.

In comparison, this is Denver.
 A boom and bust city for decades, most of the interesting buildings in Denver have been razed by transient corporations and greed. If you like brown and grey slabs however, this is your dream skyline.

 I found much to stimulate my creativity in Kansas City.

Building after building sported decoration and stonework like this...

...along with unusual, fascinating architecture.

Kansas City's Power and Light Building is being renovated for apartment living...

 ...while Denver's getting lots of these.

An old neighborhood in Kansas City. These types of neighborhoods were not unusual--they were everywhere, and they were free of the noise of scrapes and demolitions.

And then there are Denver's old neighborhoods--continually noisy with machinery yanking up old houses as though they were weeds. Wish I could say this new stucco and stone monstrosity was unusual.

And what else has Denver lost?

 Yep, all of these and more--so many beautiful buildings gone forever. Buildings that once gave Denver a unique character.

But when oil companies and other corporations move in and out of a city, they just rip 'em down. They don't care about history, or aesthetics, or waste (yeah the rubble of those beautiful places are in the landfill). Those companies are only here long enough to destroy and grab their money--but Denver keeps inviting them. I suppose they leave plenty of dollars behind in some elected official's hands.

No, the 1960s and the 1980s were not kind to a once interesting Denver city. Neither is the current boom.

To be fair, the Daniels and Fisher tower was saved after a huge fight--amazing. The rest of the building was demolished though. It's replacement is a brown slab.

I like to visit cities where there are surprises like this on every street...

...and where architecture like this is the norm, not the exception.

I'm not saying that Kansas City is perfect, but it made a big impression on me, and it's a place I want to re-visit. My roots are deep in Denver, so I'm not planning a move anytime soon, but man, the contrast makes Denver's losses harder to take.

Thanks for letting me mourn.

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