Monday, December 31, 2012

Chickens and cars

Some vintage cars - not real ones though, they were models! So no risk of them driving off! I tried the technique of using lots of short lines, rather than firm lines. I'm not really sure whether I like that technique or not.

 And some gorgeous chickens in the sun.

A gratuitous photo of Kaikoura rocks, South island, New Zealand

Sketching people #1

I've decided to sketch people a bit more, to get more practice at doing the whole stance etc. Still doing it as quickly as possible to try and get everything down before people move.

Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quick portrait sketches

At the moment, I am working on speeding up my sketches (mostly 40-60 seconds) and trying for better likenesses. When you are sketching someone who does not know they are being sketched, you have to sketch pretty quickly, as they change position so fast. I mostly seem to be catching people who are talking to someone intensely, reading, or working on their laptops. It has made me realise that, although I can draw portraits from the front OK, I need to practice drawing people who are looking down, or looking down and to the side.

Above - the woman at the top was a really good likeness, so I am happy with that, However, she was gazing off to the left, and I accidentally drew her looking straight ahead.

This guy was looking down, and I didn't quite get the angle of the face quite right. The darkness of the eyes are eyelashes - I couldn´t see his eyes. However, it will take a bit of practice to draw that angle better.There are some great examples of how to draw people looking down on the Urban Sketchers website, since those sketchers are doing the same thing (drawing people) alot. I think if I had made the eye line more curvy it would have been clearer that the person was looking down. Will try this next time.

Gratuitous photo of a Dunedin beach, South Island, New Zealand

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sketchcrawl around Karori and Makara

We went for a drive to the West Winds Recreation Park, near Makara, north of Wellington. I took my sketchbook with me, on the off chance that I would have time for a few sketches...

It was a bright sunny summer's day, with a beautiful blue sky. We went over the hill into Karori, which has always had its own weather, a bit like Brigadoon. The Karori was covered in a thick fog. ???? We went on anyway.

The park actually has ruins in it of quite a large base, including gun emplacements and an old radio station. It was really strange to think of New Zealand having ruins like this.   

We walked around the massive wind turbines, which was very strange. They are so big that an Airbus A380 plane could sit in this middle of the wind turbine wings, with lots of room to spare. It looked like there was 70 - 80 of them on the hills, all moving except for one, who looked like he was in charge. The day was starting to feel a bit surreal, as if we were in some kind of Dr Who scene. The wind turbines moved in and out of the thick fog.

Then we went down to Makara Cafe and Beach. Here is my 3 year old climbing over an old boat, which is sitting smack bang in the middle of the cafe. Oddly enough, this was not surreal, because this is very common in Wellington cafes.


We drove on back through Karori, which was now bright and sunny. Over the hill, we discovered that the rest of the world was now covered in a pea souper fog.  We drove down to Happy Valley to the coast, to Carlucci Land. I had never been here before, and got out of the car, in the fog, to be surrounded by the most fantasical animals and metal sculptures. This guy in this valley has made all these structures and sculptures from scrap metal. Now it was like being in a Salvador Dali painting (in the fog).


Well, we made our way home now, driving along the coast, watching the fog obscure things.

I think  that by sketching things, and observing them so closely, it made everything seem quite different. Otherwise, I probably would have just glanced at things and moved on, unaffected. But that made the day really interesting for me.

Gratuitous photo of Dunedin Harbour, South Island, New Zealand

Down by the stream

We spent the morning down by the local stream near the big field today. Here are some lightning fast sketches of my kids playing in the stream. They like to build little dams and make rock bridges and so forth.

It is pretty challenging drawing kids, as they really don't stand still very long at all. Although generally people return to the same positions if they are engaged in something, that doesn't always happen!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

St Paul's before demolition


A sketch, done while my kids ate breakfast, of the old St Paul's Trinity Pacific building (entrance). This was done from an old photo, not on site. The building was so badly damaged in the Christchurch Earthquakes in 2010-11 that it has since been demolished, which is a great loss.  The sketch below is how far I got at breakfast, and the sketch above is with the shading added later (during another breakfast...). 


Gratuitous photo of Pencarrow Head, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Monday, December 17, 2012

A face a day: 27

Wow, the most amazing penpal in the world has sent me a sketchbook and some micron pens for Xmas! You can't get 0.05 pens in New Zealand in sepia and grey, as they don't import them, so getting from the USA was the only way.

Thanks so very much Kerrie-ann! I started sketching straight away...

 Gratuitous photo of a sunrise from our house, North Island, New Zealand

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A face a day: 26

I generally do small portraits focusing a lot on tone, but I'd like to focus a bit more on line, which works better for younger people.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

A face a day:24

Drawing another face, as part of the exercise in Carla Sondheim's book Drawing Lab, where you draw a face a day.

Gratuitous photo of the start of the Wainui Falls Track, Tasman, South Island, New Zealand

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A face a day: 23

The portrait sketch above turned out OK. I'm using the technique of mapping out major features with faint dots. Even if you move stuff, the dots aren't really noticeable. So that works well. If I had done it in pencil, there are a couple of things I would have altered slightly, but I am still practising quick pen and ink sketching, where every mark is permanent! Staedler 0.2 felt tip pen, and F felt tip pen. 4 mins for most of it (which is as long as a person usually sits still for!), then the usual time spent doing the toning on the hair, which can be done later. This is about 15 cm high, so medium sized.

It wasn´t quite as true a likeness to the person as I would have liked, so I did it again.  The pic below was a really good likeness for the person. I'd prefer to get it right the first time, but it does often seem to work best the second time.

Gratuitous photo of Wainui Bay, South Island, New Zealand

Friday, December 7, 2012

Community Hall

Done in 30 minutes (had to be home in time for my husband to go out). F (Fine) size Staedler felt tip pen. A4 paper. Legs went to sleep - both of them - must get a more comfy chair!

I left the shading on this pretty low key, since I planned to watercolour it. Also, this was all I could do in the 30 minutes that I had. But I realised that I drew this on the back of another picture that I also want to keep, and if I  watercolour this, then I will probably lose the picture on the back. The alleged watercolour paper of this sketchbook is just too cheap. I might have to invest in a new sketchbook, but I still can't bring myself to sketch on expensive paper, in case I botch things. Although, most of my sketches turn out OK these days. Mmm.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vintage Red Bus

Gratuitous photo of Castlepoint, North Island, New Zealand

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sketching cheesy grins and wide toothy smiles...

These are just "Notes to Self¨ for future reference: 

A lot of people that I want to draw are happy people, who are grinning widely, even cheesily. If I am sketching a large portrait, then it is easy to draw the grin and the teeth. But if I'm drawing a tiny sketch, like a quick sketch in a sketchbook, a cheesy grin is quite tricky.

When I look at a person grinning, their mouth and their teeth are really visible and clear. But if you actually draw the mouth and the teeth quite clearly, then the person looks very odd (see below). I can't figure out how it is that there lines and tone that we can see on a subject - they are actually there - but when we draw them in a small sketch, they look wrong. I think it is that, when recognising faces in a sketch, our brain wants to fill in some of the lines and tone itself. 

So far, I think that when doing small sketches of people who are grinning widely, the trick is to draw just enough that the viewer's brain fills in the rest.

Usually you would draw the upper lip lightly, but reasonably clearly. This seems to be so, even if the woman is wearing lipstick. If you actually draw the lipstick in darkly on both lips, the person will probably look like an evil clown. Usually the upper lip is drawn in because the light is usually coming from above in some way, and the upper lip is therefore in shadow. I think that even if it is not really in much shadow (compared to the lower lip), our brains are really used to this convention, and will interpret it properly.

The edges of the mouth are usually dark, because the cheeks are pulled back. Draw the edges of the grin darkly, but don't let it follow too much down the lower lip.

I think that if the person is grinning so widely that there is a gap between the teeth and lower lip (see above), then you draw a little bit of the darkness, with just the faintest outline of some of the front teeth along the lower edge. Don't completely draw the line between the teeth. I think the viewer's brain knows they are teeth, and fills in the rest itself. The lower lip is not actually drawn too clearly (or somewtimes at all): just draw the shadow which the lower lip makes underneath.

If there is no gap between the person's teeth and the lower lip (see above), I think a faint suggestion of teeth along the upper lip works OK. But again don't draw in the actual lines between the teeth (even though you can see them in the subject). Another way to think of it is that you are drawing the shadows made by the upper lip on the teeth, not the actual teeth lines.

A face a day: 22

Another few quick sketches to practise quick portraits. Again, no pencil or erasing involved. I think these took me about 4-6 minutes each. Using a black 0.05 Staedler felt tip pen (the finest tip available as far as I know). Cheap paper. Actual size is about a passport photo size, so the photos are pretty much the actual size of the sketches. I'm pretty happy with how these turned out.

I did the above in about 5 minutes, and then later did the dark hair and included the shadows on the face (another 3-4 minutes).

Gratuitous photo of Scorching Bay, Wellington Harbour, New Zealand

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A face a day: up to somewhere around 20?

A few more faces sketched. Again, 0.05 black Staedler pen, cheap paper, no pencil. Every mark done is permanent. It is working OK. These are all quite small sketches, just passport photo sized.

Wanganui River, New Zealand