Keeping It Loose??

I’ve always wondered why amateur artists are so enamoured with “loose.”  Everyone craves it, nobody can define it, and there are many great artists who would be wondering with me if they were here now.  I doubt whether DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Sargent or modern artists like Norman Rockwell or Robert Bateman would have told their students to “loosen up.”

But there I was the other day, trying to “loosen up” by drawing cups quickly.  I did half a dozen of them, some “loose” to the point that they ceased to look like a cup.  Here’s one example.

4×6 sketchbook, DeAtramentis ink

It’s what a lot of people call loose.  I call it sloppy but, well, different strokes I guess.  I thought I’d try a different approach, somewhere between this and my typical, very stiff, cartoon style.  I used a larger format, about 5×7 I guess.  And I slowed down some.

Rather than a coffee cup, I chose a tea cup.  Maybe that makes a difference too.  In any case, I like this result better than those “loose” cups.  It suffers a lack of precision I suppose but it looks more like a finished drawing to me.  Opinions welcome.  Just keep them loose.

2 Responses to “Keeping It Loose??”

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  1. Todd Cumpston says:

    I like “loose” because I feel that is more vibrant, more “alive”… Most “beautifully rendered” drawings and paintings feel stiff and overworked.

    It takes a lot of skill to render something more exacting yet have it feel like it breathes… Does that make sense?

    • Well, Todd, it doesn’t really matter whether it makes sense to me 🙂 If your style and definitions work for you, then that’s right for you. It’s the notion that everyone should aspire to being loose that bothers me. It flies in the face of all the greats who have proceeded us, and who are with us still, that have painted with precision.

      The very notion that a portraitist should “loosen up” if their goal is to generate good likeneses of their clients is absurd. If you’re tasked with making drawings of the new General Motors line of vehicles, doing those drawings “loosely” makes no sense. Art isn’t about one size fits all and yet the amateur art world is full of these “loosen up” comments as though it’s some sort of hidden truth about how to climb to the top of the art pyramid. That’s the part I don’t buy, not that your loose style suits you. I like it too, when YOU do it 🙂