Saturday, July 24, 2010

what the what?


name that formula! If you nailed it, distance = rate x time, then you might have guessed that I've gone miles in terms of abstract - or maybe metaphorical - distance at a relatively speedy rate in a relatively short amount of time. Drawing class is done after an accelerated four week term and another meaty final assignment; I'm still kickin' it in algebra, for another four, three, actually. Then it's a four-week psychology course to replace the algebra morning time-slot before painting in the afternoon for four hours. Two weeks off, and then Fall term begins.

I'm determined to slow down time. Summers are short here, and this year is exceptionally short in terms of true summery weather. Pause often to soak in the sun before diving back into quadratic equations and drawing. I've set some goals for myself with art and so far I'm carrying them off well enough. My focus has widened to include rendering environments, something I've not previously been very interested in reproducing. After doing the drawing final and receiving some constructive and positive feedback and encouragement from our instructor, I've been drawing and painting scenes from around the city. I've always been pretty astonished by what other people create - especially in graphic novel and animated film format. I'm watching a lot of animation and reading graphic novels with an eye towards perspective and light/shadow, so I can learn how to re-create or even invent environments in a (dare I say) captivating way.

Nothing beats doing the drawing though. Here's my final. Actually I did two, since I love drawing my friend Alex (the wrist dribble was a total accident, geez). Compositionally though, the Luckey's bar is stronger so that's why I decided to do that one as well. These are ink and ink wash, 24 x 30" heavyweight watercolor paper sheets:

I've also been companion to Paul Madonna's All Over Coffee book, which compiles a large selection of his pen and ink with ink washes, depicting scenes from San Francisco. I love his spin on the world and the language of his illustrations. He goes straight to pen without laying out the drawing in pencil first. Amazing. Tom (our drawing instructor) suggested that I do more scenes like Luckey's and do a show and/or sell stuff. I'm beginning to see how I could do that; my confidence and skills are growing. I worried aloud to Tom that I would be stealing Paul's thunder, but of course Tom is right: lots of people draw and paint scenes and sell them. It's not like it's a new idea. Sure we might be working in similar mediums....but if you look at Paul's work and you look at mine, they are sure different. I love how a hundred people can draw the same thing and it looks a hundred different ways.

Here's a couple smaller formats on heavyweight watercolor paper, 9 x 12". This one I did with no pencil prelim and I kinda like the wobbly actually. 13th street, near university campus:

And from the downtown bus stop. Love this guy in the foreground. Wanted to create a warmth and a continuity with the blue colors that happened to group in the sign and what the folks were wearing. Needs a few more shadows and some tweaks but it's good to be building my chops, yeah?

Yesterday I spent some solid hours finishing this one up (below). I laid it all out with pencil first. Much more meticulous. I don't have much experience doing larger and more detailed works, building a longer relationship with the subject matter like this......but I like it. I feel impatient sometimes (what's the rush? I don't know!), I wonder how I'd manage to survive multiple clients and deadlines if I built up a freelance illustration life for myself - I draw pretty slow. But I'm also learning a new language of sorts, so I'm sure I'd learn how to drop in values quicker, determine where to be more gestural and where I want to finesse it, that sort of thing. In reading Paul Madonna's afterwords in his book, I learned that he invests anywhere from 8 to 20 hours per drawing (not including researching, pounding the pavement, sketching, and the like). If he can make a living doing that, then in a few (several?) years with enough practice I could definitely develop my own method and approach......not to just crank 'em out, but to 'work smarter not harder'.

Anyway, with this piece I experienced all sorts of push-pull feelings. I felt excited, but hesitant. I don't want to fuck it up, right? But then again, it's only a drawing and I can make another. But what about all the time I'm investing in this? Well it's not a waste, regardless of whether I make a total mess of it or not; I'll be learning from everything I do or wish I had done/differently. I went very carefully in some areas and felt as though I'd like to move faster, more assuredly, and worried that my carefulness would translate into the picture and make it stagnant, dry, or dead. I thought about all the people on the planet in their creative endeavors, whether doing them fast and dirty or slow and contemplative, and about artists both contemporary and historical who spend hours and days, weeks or even years on a single piece. I like that as an artist (of any stripe) we can choose how we want to create -- warming up with quick gestures, or spending hours just doodling, or knuckling down to some more refined work.....pretty cool.

This is on the north side of the building that houses Paul's Bicycle Way of Life (they just tuned up my bike, with a new chain, cassette, bearings, it rides like a freaking dream now!!), Allann Bros. Coffee and another business I've never patroned. I've been trying to find interesting things to draw, or learn how to make any mundane thing interesting.......and I'm feeling pretty bored by Eugene in general (the architecture is pretty bland). So I decided to draw something I find interesting:

And you're all like, Finally, damn, show us the picture already!

I'm pretty happy with it, I like looking at it, and of course I see a lot of things to do still or that I might do differently. It's a good beginning. Another large size on watercolor paper, ink, ink wash and watercolor. I'm running out of wall space to hang these babies I'm going to approach Shawn over at his store/gallery, the Museum of Unfine Art, and see what we can do about hanging these up there, maybe some time this year. Okay that means I have to frame them. What?! Help.


eroica said...

inspirational, as ever!!
xx loving your new stuff

V.K. said...

yay! it's you!

......yay :)