Monday, September 28, 2015

500 Hands Challenge: Done!
I finished the 500 Hands Challenge a bit early, and it feels very good to be done. In this post, I'm going to talk about what I learned.

If you're curious about the origin of this hand challenge, click on this link for my first post about it:
I don't like to start on page one of a new sketchbook. This shows the first 4 hands I drew on a random page for the challenge, then I continued them on page one of the sketchbook. I also realized that I used number 44 twice, so I guess I drew 501 hands.
Probably one of the most important things I learned was that it's crucial to draw the gesture of the hand first, then refine it. It makes the whole process easier, and results in a higher quality, more lively hand every time. The best hands always start with a gesture.
I've never loved sight drawing (otherwise known as Drawing from Life). Thus it's not been my strong suit. But this challenge resulted in me getting better at sight drawing, proportion, and just plain looking.
At a about 250 hands, I was sick to death of them. I was complaining one evening, and a fellow illustrator said "To get better at drawing something (like hands) develop a fetish for them; fall in love with them. Fall in love with the curves, the structure, the nuances. Every time you draw a hand, be in love with it." So I took his advice. It made all the difference, and I wasn't bored afterwards.
What else did I learn? That all the great artists did not draw great hands all the time. While I fell in love with Michaelangelo's fat, blocky hands, and continued my infatuation with the skinny, sinewy hands of Arthur Rackham, I found weirdly lumpy, potato-hands that Michaelangelo and Rockwell fudged on, and a few pretty rough ones by Rackham too. I admit it, those discoveries made me feel better about my drawings.
I admit too, that in the beginning I skipped drawing the more difficult hand positions, but at some point, I quit avoiding them without even knowing when.
I also learned:
-Expressive hands are not always in proportion; proportionate hands are not always the most expressive
-If my copied hand looked too much like the resource, I found I hadn't learned as much. Somehow the act of being too responsible to the resource got in the way of my progress.
-All the great artists relied on  "stock" hand positions they found useful and thus drew over and over.
Since the worst hands were the first hands, were the last few the best? Nope. By the end, I knew I had to get them done to make time for other things, so I rushed them a bit. But I did get faster and better at drawing hands overall, and that was really the point of the challenge.
And maybe the best thing?  By the 300th hand I found I did not hate drawing hands anymore. Hatred's root after all, is fear. Drawing 500 (and one) hands has pretty much erased my fear of them. I will always find drawing them difficult, but I know I'll continue to enjoy the challenge.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Screenplay Process: Part Three
The second painting for the Screenplay series is about the Editor. In the first post about Screenplay, you can see the sketch of an "editing machine" by clicking here:  

I'm not one for sticking to factual representations of anything, machinery or otherwise*. 
Here is the new version, penciled, then inked onto watercolor paper. I used a brush and ink for the outline; for the the crosshatching a Crow Quill 102 nib.

I tried out a lot of heads before settling on the one I wanted.

Here's my original composition sketch, but the expression pretty much came from...
...this selfie. Eeesh.
Penciled in and adding ink outline (sorry for the poor quality photo).
More ink with the prelim sketch as reference. The final piece will be 12" x 12".
And a cropped detail of the nearly finished ink drawing. There are more layers of cross-hatching to go than I want to think about. Watercolor washes will follow, and that'll be faster.
Thanks, as always, for reading!
Next up: The third painting in the series; the Projectionist.

*My resource for the editing machine

Monday, September 14, 2015

Screenplay Process: Part Two
Cameraman. (Detail)
The first painting-to-be is about the filming of a movie.
This is a detail of the nearly finished, inked piece--pre-watercolor washes.

My resource photos are pretty basic.
For the pillars, I took a photo of a column on my porch.
In another part of the picture, the Bride of Frank has pencilled-in shading.

My own hand as photo ref.
After the pencil lines are drawn to satisfaction (notice I didn't write "to perfection") I lightly shade the piece with a 2H pencil. The outline inking is done with a small brush, the shading is done with a Hunt 102 Crow Quill nib...
...and the zen-like part (notice I didn't write "tedious part") begins. Yes, I love the look--and the process of--layered cross-hatching.

After a constructive critique by some fellow illustrators, I finished the pen-work. Rather than add paint now, I want to ink up the other two drawings first, so next post will be about picture number two: The Editor.
Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Screenplay Process: Part One
I'm charged up to be part of an upcoming show at Helikon Gallery & Studios. The theme is film, and I was struggling to find a subject for the three, 12" paintings requested by the gallery. Luckily my wonderful muse gave me time to verbalize my difficulty.  She listened carefully, and then said "What about paintings that cover the the people and equipment involved in the process of film making; camera man, film editor, and projectionist? In your style of course." Perfect!

The thumbnail sketch above was the first idea for the camera man piece--along with a ghost...
...then I tried out some characters and equipment. This part of the process--besides getting the idea--is often the most trying for me. The idea's there, but hasn't congealed. It's just an amorphous cloud in my head. Somehow I have to give the idea-cloud form, while researching the actual details. Do I do it this way every time I approach a project? No. My process is all over the board every time.
 This time around I did more, mostly pathetic thumbnails...
...and then landed this one. Frankenstein's creature has always fascinated me, so he (and his bride in this case) became the film's subject. Along with some anachronistic Victoriana of course.
Then I got distracted by the sweet machinery involved with film editing, and worked this sketch up to a finish, just because it was pretty enjoyable. So much for a logical sequence.

Next time, more progress!

 I appreciate your interest--thanks for the visit. Check out Helikon Gallery's site here 
and if you are in Denver, check out the actual gallery!

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