Effective methods for drawing
Sketchbooks have a magical quality to them. They are the place where an artist can compose thoughts, formulate ideas and draw privately.
But how do artists sketch effectively and make their sketchbooks into treasure troves. Well, most important is to remember that thumbnail sketches are a tool and should not be put on a pedestal. It's very easy to fall into a trap where you want each sketch to be a little gem. You need to let go of that mentality
I'm a big believer in having command over every step in the academic process and the first step is always thumbnail sketches. But, how do artists create ideas from nothing?....
To answer this question, I would begin by encouraging you to use your imagination, write out a story or read a captivating book to create an image in your mind. The importance of this step is to realize that your thumbnail will exist to translate that idea and image. The thumbnail is the earliest interaction you have with this imaginary world, and like many early works they probably won't be very beautiful the first time.
The sketch pictured left is an exploration of a rather simple scene that you could imagine: "A Girl Resting." It's good to make small tests for yourself and imagine scenes while you sketch. You can always draw whatever comes to your mind, but I have found that sketching with a purpose tends to produce more satisfying results. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to create something beyond this sketch.
While you draw, don't get caught up in details, but rather think of the larger volumes of the composition. You are composing the image like a piece of music and you must think of the tempo and beat before the final flourishes.
As a final note, remember to be observant in your everyday situations. While you walk down the street, make a mental note of the way a building is constructed or the way a girl stands as she waits for a bus. Then, in the evening try and recreate what you remember. A picture is composed of many small pieces and all these sketches are fuel for your imagination.
-Sketch with a purpose and sketch as much as you can-
Tintypes, paintings and everything else
Some time ago now, I had the honor of learning how to make Tintype photographs with my good friend, Charles Harrigan. What I learned that day changed my perception of the creation of art.
I always admired the early photographs of Victorian men and women, with old school looks. But what I wondered how they appeared so haunting and ghost-like. I assumed that people back then just looked different. But what I learned with my friend Charlie was that it was the medium of early photograph that created the hauntingly cool appearance of the past. The interesting thing is that red pigment in skin of otherwise in tintype photograph becomes dark in the final image. So a blush can turn into a swarthy appearance. I tend to have red cheeks myself, but I am actually fairly pale. The tintype turned me into a swarthy creature from the past.
So what I learned was that the medium itself was responsible for the look that I admired. The lesson can also be applicable to painting as well. I will say that I am a believer in practice first and foremost, but there is something to be said for the tools that you use. Just as tintypes create a different aesthetic from digital photography; an oil ground can produce a different effect from dreaded acrylic grounds.
Test things out and experiment to find out what you like. Knowledge is power.