Monday, March 23, 2015

Drawing advice for a friend

This modified post is based on an email I sent to a friend, and focuses on drawing and writing. Not all encompassing, it is a short explanation on how I see beginning a creative project. It is meant to get both of us out of the funk we are in now.  Onward to better days.

Everyone can draw, or doodle if you must. I free draw, meaning it may turn into an identifiable animal or object, or it may not. It just IS. Any drawing (for children) does not need to be anatomically "correct," just appealing and fun. Cats and dogs are fun to draw because they are made up of several overlapping circles and ovals.

Free writing connotes similarly. Yet, we often encourage students to brainstorm, free write, and draft. These activities are not the same, but all encourage creativity without the prospect of having a finished document at the end of a day's writing. But, their outcomes are neither valueless nor the results of time wasted. Any time devoted to a quiet or quick period for writing or drawing helps keep the brain elastic, the senses quick, and reflexes warm.   
Drawing does not need to be perfect or “correct.” You just need to relax and have fun. The more you draw, the easier it may get. For cats and dogs, start by drawing ovals and circles. Here is a beautiful and old-fashioned step-by-step collection of images from les animaux tels qu'ils sont, kindly scanned by pilllpat (agence eureka) on Flickr.

Hyènes & Chacals
Write and draw as much as you can, when you feel the need or encounter inspiration. Practice stories in your head, and write those in a notebook. Start in the middle, think of how it ends, and write that first if you want. Write down the funny things as they happen with your pet or things you see around town or school. Recall odd or funny things that happened in the past. Think about writing your pet's life story from her or his perspective. If you have a female cat, say, do you know where she came from? Think about when she was a kitten. Think about any other cats you have owned. All cat stories combined into the Le Petit Chat Pour Les Enfants/The little cat for the children. Write for your child, niece or nephew. Think about Beatrix Potter. She wrote for the children in her family. Children were her first audience. 

Draw your pet using whatever tools you have now. Strike while the iron is hot. Use grocery paper bags opened up and go to town with crayons. You will work best when you want to work. Later, you try different papers, pencils, charcoal (sticks or pencils), and even ink with a pen with a Crow Quill fine line nib. Speedball Crow quill pens are very inexpensive and flexible. 

If you are fortunate to have Blackwing 602 pencils, or the newer Palomino, they should be soft for sketching and blocking. However, if an older pencil seems too hard for sketching, filing in, and details, then try it for blocking in shapes.
I hate it when you can't change the dream channel
©carolyn rhea drapes 2015. 
Prismacolor markers and Micron .005 pen

Lightly sketch and then switch to another pencil for shading or detailing with another pencil you like. This is when it pays to get yourself to an artist supply store to try out the products. Finishing pencils should be softer to allow for fewer streaking and better, consistent coverage. The lower the number, the softer the pencil.

When you sketch and draw, many times you may find that you can go directly to a finished product without guidelines, but other times you need to lightly sketch and then use softer, darker pencils. Blackwing pencils could be good for that. If you want to add color, try Prismacolor or Pantone markers. They offer a variety of point shapes and sharpness.

Rotring Art Pen, fine point and catridges
For pens, I prefer Microns, but they will run out of ink quickly. Rotring has a great cartridge art pen that comes in various widths.

Currently, I have two Rotring art pens in fine point. Its cartridge system allows for a very fluid line and the ink is long lasting, even though I live in the desert.

For color, DESIGN Spectracolor pencils were once the gold standard for intensity, blending, and softness, but have been out of production since 1999. For excellent pencils now, Derwent offers several styles of color pencils with a wide range of colors.

Books and online resources 
Try practice drawing your cat from life and by copying pictures of cats that look like her. Try drawing other animals, too. I used to do this, and am still trying to find the little cat book i liked the best. But there are many drawing books you can use. 

Back in the day were two books I loved, gendered of course, entitled Sketching and Drawing for Girls and Sketching and Drawing for Boys. I replaced mine a few years ago and now, the book has been combined and retitled to, Sketching and Drawing for Children. Combined book includes the same pages and content as the two original books. One simple change, great results. 

Here are a few terrific Pinterest pages about drawing cats. 
When I was very young, my father bought me a couple of portfolios, which were marked $1 for 10 or 12 large prints of dog and cat portraits by Gladys Emerson Cook’s 
"X" ©carolyn rhea drapes 2015
Pantone markers and micron black pens.
pastel drawings of cats and dogs

I hope to soon locate these portfolios, as I don’t think I would have given them away. They are lovely and an excellent example of how evocative and affective simple tools like pastels, colored papers, and the animals themselves create an excellent subject to capture. 

All too often, doodling is considered as wasting time or dumping your daydreams onto paper. Many see them as not being true drawings or art, whatever that means. The attitude toward such creativity is condescending; and, similar to saying that improvisational music is not real music. But, to get to the improvisation some practice is necessary. Whether doodling is an end unto itself or practice towards a goal is up to you. In either case, drawing, drafting, and writing for yourself can be relaxing and fun.

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...