Friday, 2 September 2011

1st Quarter Report

I started Sketch Journal 3 months ago as a personal project to practice drawing and learn a little about scanning, posting and the basic mechanics of the Internet.  It has been a really fun experience, complete with some personal growth and surprises.  As a means to benchmark this milestone, I thought I'd summarize the experience.

Practicing drawing was the fundamental goal.  I set a goal of doing 3 drawings a week and have been able to do least if averaged.  That was good, but the downside is that I haven't I been discriminating enough about what I posted.

When I review,my sketchbooks from the last three months the observation that emerges is 'the faster, the better'.  When I have time and block out in pencil, then ink over the drawing gets really stiff and not necessarily more accurate.  I'm thinking pencil structure should be reserved for  straightening out my wandering vanishing points and overall composition, and let the detail be a looser and implied.

I'm new to painting and loving how a little colour can pull together a vague line drawing.  The discipline here is to figure out when to stop.  I have been observing how my Urbansketcher mentors often use only a few colours and spill colours together.  That is a segue to what I have picked up from mining the USK site.

I've been studying not just the 'corresponandants' but also the 'members' work through the Urbansketchers site.  Like any journey there has been an evolution in what appeals in terms of styles to emulate. My 'hero' at this point is Luis Ruiz, who is an an architect from Malaga, Spain who draws prolifically with a nice balance of perspective accuracy and implied detail.  He is sparing and strategic in his use of colour.  In the words of a an architect colleague, Alex Rankin, he 'draws like an angel'.

Next up is, Mark Selander, a member from the Seattle USK group, who like me, is fascinated by heavy equipment but has taken it to a whole other sophisticated and delightfully wacky level in his day job as an illustrator.

Just as I'm struggling with my propensity to stiffen  and overwork my drawings I'm  trying to mediate  my attraction to the way architects have been taught to draw with the expressiveness of those who have come from art school backgrounds.    Here is a list of the people I am currently studying.

Marc Taro Holmes, a game character development artist from Montreal.

Rob Carey, an American teaching in Germany.

Liz Steele, a very well travelled Australian, tea loving architect.

Omar Jamillo,  who is originally from Ecuador and studied in Germany.  I'm not clear on whether he is an architect or landscape architect (like me) , but it doesn't really matter as he seems to be forging ahead as an artist.  He spent last summer in St. John's Newfoundland and is now on a one month gig sketching the Berlin Ballet company on tour - how cool is that?

There are a bunch of other people I watch, but the shift in interest has been towards a few people who draw people more than things.  Top amongst these are Thomas Thorspecken, who is a former Disney animator who now draws and writes about cultural events in Florida.  Not so much for the stories as the drawings.

I couldn't go to the second USK symposium which was held in Lisbon this summer.  I'm really hoping to get to the 2012 event and waiting with great anticipation for the announcement of next years venue.

Just recently the USK site posted its various chapter sites.  Seattle would be a hands down first choice to meet several of those sketchers, and to visit my stepbrother Mark Glyde. ( check out his blog, wish I could write like him- )  I've been thinking that next time I plan a trip I'll investigate if there is a sketchcrawl planned in that city, or even contact someone to go drawing with.  Which brings me to Ottawa.  I am member no. 4 here and have approached the other 3 about meeting up, but not yet organized a date.  That is on my 'to do' list.


This was the surprise.  I've had fun entering this international virtual society, but didn't expect to have so much fun with the techie side .  I have been watching my visitation statistics with great interest.  Not sure why I need an audience, so much as astounded with the idea that someone I've never met  would check out the site.  I have been hesitant to share the address with work colleagues and friends but have noticed that my passive posting of the URL on my limited Facebook page has attracted many visits. That being said, friends are not necessarily as interested as other sketchers.   The hits have accelerated this last month, but the real test will be repeat visitors.  I am trying to figure out how to install a more sophisticated analytics application to get a sense of that.  It may be distracting from my simple intent of just drawing, but it has been fun nonetheless.  My experience with blogging has prompted, Matt Mills,  a colleague at my office to start a photography site.  With some luck he'll help me figure out the tech piece.  He's off to a good start ...sort of modelled on the USK theme of telling a little story with each image.  Check it out - sent him a comment.

More drawing.  Ink without pencil (I think of this a drawing without a net).

More People.  I'm planning to participate in a life drawing group this fall. I did life drawing for a couple of years while in University and recon that is the best way to concur my fear of drawing people.

The challenge here is flow.  Trying too hard seems to cramp up my style.  I'm  aiming for expressiveness over accuracy over the next 3 months.

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