It seems that the art world is full of people saying “get out of your comfort zone” as a way of saying something, though I’m not sure what. And for a decade I’ve pretty much ignored that advice.
When I came to sketching I was holding a fountain pen. These days I’m still holding a fountain pen for most of my art. Talk about a rut, but it is my rut and I like it. Heck, everyone says that using a pen is the ONLY way to learn to draw. I’ve never quite followed the logic of that claim, within limits, it has worked for me. It’s those limits I want to talk about today.
Sketching with pen places a lot of emphasis on line and contour. That’s ok, because we’ve always got watercolors to provide color, right? The problem with all this is that the pen sketch becomes an end product. You might think about watercolor while making a pen drawing but it’s still all about edges and contours.
Pencil drivers are different. They shade their drawings. In doing so they have to think more in three dimensions more than do pen drivers. They discuss things like “turning the form” and other stuff like that. So do all painters, including watercolorists, who don’t lay down lines as THE thing that defines their drawing. Shari Blaukopf’s workshops taught me just how big a switch in mindset takes place when you to a pen and wash sketch but with a pencil instead.
I’m not talking here about right or wrong but rather about me “getting out of my comfort zone” for a reason, and that reason is to walk on the wild side of light and shade, turning forms, and gaining a better sense of creating 3D images. It’s going to be a long and somewhat clumsy road for me I’m kind of excited about the prospects.
I did this rather quick (10 min) sketch of a basswood tree (3×5) while on a walk. It was fun to scrumble in masses rather than drawing my typical Brillo pad trees. I like the result and plan to draw a bunch more trees, though Quebec trees are dropping their leaves en masse right now.
I decided to draw a portrait. I don’t draw portraits which is something of a Catch-22. I don’t know how, they are never very good and so I don’t draw portraits. More getting outside my comfort zone I guess. I also learned something about pencil. Stillman & Birn Beta is too textured to draw with pencil. See…already learning. Oh, and I can’t shade to save my life. Guess that’s why I’m out here… out of my comfort zone.