Sometime around 1965 I took an undergraduate course entitled “Introduction to Modern Art” (I know that surprises those who are familiar with my subsequent career in computer science). The paper I had to write as part of the studies was on Spanish artist Joan Miro. I got the clever idea to produce a really catchy title page by including a representation of one of the amoeba like shapes Miro included in some of his works. In making that representation I did not make a solid outline, but instead scrunched up the shape something like a kidney bean getting ready to spit out a watermelon seed. My instructor graded my paper as perfect, but nicked me a half a grade over the tiny, nearly microscopic, gap in the shape’s outline.
I have spent 52 years thinking I had been “wronged” – that the error was so minor as to not detract from the intent, cleverness, or content. As I experiment with various watercolor techniques to render my first true painting – the Spanish mission noted in my previous post – I decided to try color wash over an ink outline drawing. When I finished the drawing I could not help but notice the places where I got “sloppy” with the pen and did not complete the lines correctly. I decided I need to re draw the item, and that my old art instructor was right after all — in a drawing little details mean a lot.
I continue my journey into sketching with this rendition of Lucille Ball taken from a profile photo of her early in her career. The text on my gallery image, here, explains more about the closer than usual connection I have with Lucy and is a cleaned up version of the small image shown below. But this post is about my sketching, not Lucille Ball. I may have reached the top of my meager game in terms of these profile and full face drawings – and what a learning curve it has been. As noted before, it has really provided much instruction to my eye in terms of “shades of gray” which I intend to put to good us in my photography efforts. I need to branch back to landscapes as there is a real challenge I have in that area concerning “suggesting” what should be seen rather than trying to depict each tiny detail. Will keep everyone posted.
I continue trying to progress in the ability to render sketches. Not really where I want to be yet, but making advances from time to time. The side benefit of trying to learn how to see and render various shades of gray with pencils, various blending tools, and shear luck at times is that I now can see a color scene in terms of its tonality whereas before I merely saw different colors. I’m close to making a side trip back into some B&W photography and see if any new skill has transferred over, but in the meantime, here is my latest.
I think Greta Garbo was one of the most photogenic movie stars in Hollywood. She was one of the golden era stars where, regardless of what they did ‘off camera’ so to speak, social custom and strong studio PR departments produced the essence of glamour. I intend to return to Garbo in different ages and poses as I find them because I think her face works so well in sketches. The gallery version is here.
Next in my series of Wild West characters is James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. From an image standpoint, Hickok is quite interesting. His jaw line is quite prominent and leads to a somewhat pointed chin. The eyes, like all these ‘dudes’ have a cold, hard stare with less pupil showing than expected. Interesting folks.
Its been a long time since I posted. For those of you who follow this you know that I went through a very long photography dry spell. So long, it turns out, that I spent my time learning a new medium. Now I admit I am not all that good, but in learning how to do pencil sketches I learned a lot about tonal values in gray scale. My black and white photography has popped because of the knowledge (although I have nothing yet to post in that format).
I was taken by the graphite pencil artists who could render an image in near photographic quality. My studies showed they were able to produce as much (or more than) nine values within a gray scale — white being the tenth. My instruction and ability so far allows me to produce four shades of gray.
So – my first pencil sketch – of one of my two favorite historical subjects – the American West. This is my interpretation of a contemporary photo of Bat Masterson – lawman, gunfighter, and eventually newspaper celebrity. More to come. Original drawing here. More items like this here western sketches art for sale