Saturday, August 15, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

Just about everything.

To begin with, my materials. I was using cheap colored pencils on paper that wasn't appropriate for this medium, so the colors didn't blend. I didn't have a good range of colors to use. Almost nothing dark. Using colored pencil is becoming extremely popular because they aren't messy or toxic, and good for on location work. However, I've never seen how it is done.

In art, even if it's practice, use the best quality materials you can afford. Skip the "student" grade. These were materials used at the art center pulled from a box, not my own. My husband, who has sold 7 paintings this summer, is using some of the brushes he bought for college art class 50 years ago (it was a requirement for architects, but it was almost another 20 years before he took up painting as a hobby). A good watercolor brush can cost $50.

Second, either this duck is terribly fat, or I've misplaced him (Mallard) in the water. If you're going to put animals in paintings, they need to have the appropriate weight, shape and shadow.

Third, I was working from a tiny (about 2 x 2") black and white sketch, then realized I needed to know his color markings, so I used Google to find a photo. Probably should have started with a photo instead of a tiny drawing.

Fourth, here's the biggest, and I knew it the minute I drew it. The sun. When you stand on the dock, pier or shore facing a rising or setting sun, the reflection in the water is not going to angle away from you. It looks like this reflection of the sun over Lake Erie taken this morning about 7:30.

I drew this Mallard for "Intensive Drawing" class, and because I'd just seen a family of 12 on my walk. Our 22 year old instructor wanted 140 drawings; I finished 56 and thought that was pretty darn good for an old lady. I even drew 55 and 56 last night in the living room--my cat's head and a floor lamp. But there is a sense in which this really does work. The more you draw the better you get--just like tennis, golf, sewing, writing, exercising, knitting, etc. Practice may not make perfect, but it does move you along.

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