I think it’s time for an update on my drawing career. When last we met, I was turning off my left brain (aka the Monkey Mind) by drawing things upside down to let my gloriously creative and visual right brain take over the drawing. Here’s upside down Spiderman (although upside down is probably right side up for Spiderman). Raj and Axa were very impressed with this drawing.
And then here’s this drawing of a sixteenth century horse and rider, also drawn upside down, although it got a little blurry in the photograph.
Next we were supposed to draw a remembered childhood landscape. As in, you know how kids always draw that cute drawing with the house and the sun? I was supposed to recreate that, as I used to draw it as a child. The thing is, I’ve seen so many of my children’s childhood landscapes in the meantime that I can’t remember what mine used to look like, except that they always featured rainbows in the clouds. After I put in the rainbow and the cloud, though, I realized I had no more room for the sun, so it ended up under the rainbow. Here’s my attempt, which I drew with a charcoal pencil because I’d never tried one before.
And this is an example of one of Axa’s early landscapes. She was probably about four at the time. You can see why I would forget mine. Do you LOVE the hair on her and Raj? I remember that her houses were always levitating off the ground. Probably a psychological manifestation of how many times she had moved in her young life. Also, I think the house is meant to be me, and the tree is Tony. Do you notice how we’re all holding hands? And do you love the architecturally fantastic corner windows?
The next exercise in the book was called “Pure Contour Drawing.” That is, drawing without looking at the paper. The assignment was to draw the lines in your hand while staring continuously at your hand, and strictly avoiding even a glance at the paper. Fortunately, the author said not to worry if the drawing looked nothing like a hand. Mine certainly didn’t. It did, however, look very similar to the examples in the book, so I guess that’s something. Apparently this is a crucial exercise to help complete the transition to right-brained drawing. I hope it worked, because the drawing is none too impressive as a work of art.
Next the author promised we would do our first “real” drawing. To accomplish it, we were supposed to draw on a piece of glass with a viewfinder (rectangular “frame” made out of cardboard) clipped to it. I stole a piece of glass out of one of the pictures on our wall, and taped a plastic overhead transparency onto it, because I was afraid the marker wouldn’t come off. Here’s a picture of the setup:
I clipped my viewfinder (cut from a wheat thins box) onto the glass, balanced the glass on my hand, looked at my hand through the viewfinder and drew, or really traced, the image of my hand onto the glass. The book said it was a good idea to hold something, and I thought a string of pearls might be good, although it ended up being kind of complicated to draw.
Using the two viewfinder lines (vertical and horizontal), as a guide, I eyeballed transferring the outline onto my paper. Then I kept my hand in the same position and drew it again, this time on the paper.
Here’s the result:
It wasn’t dramatically amazing, but I can definitely see an improvement in perspective and realism from my first drawing of a hand. For this next one, I was supposed to do a “toned” ground by lightly rubbing a graphite stick over the entire paper before starting the drawing. I don’t think my drawing set has a graphite stick, but it does have a charcoal stick, so I used that. And then I rubbed it all over with a paper towel, which did actually create a nice silvery background. I drew this hand using the same method as described above, making sure to cross my fingers that the drawing would come out well.
I think I made the fingers unrealistically long and slender. While I am actually a pianist, I don’t have the sort of hands that people automatically assume are meant to play the piano; my fingers are rather diminutive, just like the rest of me. But I like the way the drawing turned out, even if it looks like somebody else’s hand.
In fact, I continue to be very impressed by my drawing bible, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I am almost halfway through it, and my drawing skills are measurably improving. I notice it not only when I’m drawing, but also in the way I look at things. I find myself looking for negative space, and noticing the way the highway and sky converge on themselves in perfect inverted triangles at the horizon on my commute to work. Part of me has forgotten that I am just learning how to draw so that I can learn to paint, and enjoying the drawing all for itself. It’s an absorbing way to relax and take a break from life, and I’m increasingly more satisfied with the results of my efforts. Maybe I have a real artist inside myself after all.