For those of you who followed this concept, I began around the first of February — maybe a week or so earlier — to try to teach myself how to create pencil sketches. Access to a learning center where I lived abruptly closed this year, so that left me to figure this out by myself with the use of those youtube teaching videos I could find.
I have just about completed my first sketchbook and I can look back to see how I progressed – a kind of self evaluation in some sense. I began sketching things I could see, and noticed I was able to produce a recognizable hand — in proportion and with appropriate shading — right out of the barn.
I progressed to some landscape scenes and discovered that I was very heavy-handed with a pencil. I had to go back and learn pencil use skills, something I figured I had conquered in first grade. Pencil skills included the ability to reproduce four shades of gray which along with the white of the paper would give me five B&W tones. That turned out to be quite a challenge which took a couple of weeks to conquer.
I progressed to portraits and found I had a real problem with proportions of the human body – I call this my “cubist” period. It was necessary to study each component of the face (overall shape, hair, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears) individually. It took quite a while to reach adequacy.
At that point my sketches began to look like human beings, just not the people I was drawing. More practice and study led me to the concept of a very light sketch underlaying the sketch itself. I knew painters often sketched a rough out of their work before applying paint, but it never occurred to me that a pencil drawing required the same thing — or at least in my case looked better if I did.
I discovered that all of this work about ways to affix a range of tones to the drawing really improved my photographers eye for lighting a black and white photograph. And I also found that I can interpret a scene in color as gray shades, something quite new for me.
I’m returning to landscape drawings, but for those interested here is a link to those sketches I thought were good enough to post on my photography webpage.