Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Mrreeow, or, Sketching a Moving Target

As I mentioned yesterday, life on the art front is slow right now. I've made a few decent paintings this winter, but mostly I've been reading about art instead of making it. On my days at home, however, I've started a new sketchbook and gotten back to some simple drawing. Mostly of my new favorite subject, Hodge the cat:

I don't have much time because he's either on the move, ready to pounce on the catnip mice we've strewn about, or he's napping, and I have maybe ten minutes until he stretches or shifts around in his sleep. I'm using colored pencil here, so the marks didn't scan so well, and like I said I was working quickly:

I used to belong to a figure drawing group, and I do really love to draw. I think anyone can learn to draw - really - it's a question of letting go of what you think something is supposed to look like, and instead looking closely at the shape that is actually in front of you. Sometimes I can do this, sometimes not, it's tough. I remember in a drawing class once having to sketch our own hands and feet - without being able to either look at the paper we were drawing on, or raise our charcoal or pencil from that paper as we drew. And we had to work fast. Result: we got ugly drawings, ones that may not look much like "real" hands and feet, but we did get drawings full of life and character, and always with a few good descriptive lines that told the truth about these particular shapes as they exist in space. (Read Betty Edwards's great book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain for more talk along these lines.) I do some quick underdrawing with a brush and a neutral-color paint when I begin a painting, to block out the composition, but other than that it's been a while since I held charcoal or pencil in hand, so it feels good to return to it. Also, I've never drawn animals before, and I'm finding that cat of ours to be so sketchable.

Now back to the books - I've already been to the post office this morning to mail a few Amazon sales out, and it's sunny today, so I'm hoping some customers will be out and about because they have spring fever as bad as I do. Reading: I'm almost finished with Tim Mackintosh-Smith, The Hall of a Thousand Columns. It's serious and scholarly one minute, and slapstick Monty Python the next. I love it.

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