There is a phrase we hear often when faced with tackling a thorny problem and one that seemed very apposite for inclusion in this post.
“You just have to grab the bull by the horns”.
It’s not often I’m reluctant to pick up a pen or pencil and start scribbling but, this has very much been the case over the last few days. Returning home last week after a frantic three day stint of freelancing work, I can only describe my state as being “all drawn out”, bereft of any inclination to put pencil to paper. Why? Well, this particular bit of work involved creating about fifty separate drawings as part of a mammoth communication exercise at the early stage of a very large and complicated project. By the end of it I was done, the tanks would need refilling before another image left the end of my pen.
The creative energy required for idea generation at times like this seems huge, but that doesn’t mean that there’s none there, just that less is available for a while. So this is a great time to reach for one of a number of pieces which are sitting comfortably in the “on-going” pile. Moving something along a bit, rather than needing to start afresh is, for me at least, a cunning way to grab the bull by the horns without expending too much effort, and get back into the swing of image creation after a bit of a lull. Making small adjustments and working up the level of detail are both important to the final outcome and are both things that one doesn’t need to rush, one can take ones time to think carefully about each change and work in a slower, more deliberate way. It is very satisfying.
The main image at the top of todays post is such a work in progress and something I’ve been playing about with for quite some time. It started life as a very rough little sketch a couple of years ago and since then I’ve just tinkered with it. At first I thought it might make a good t-shirt design as in the version with the red gas tank, but never got far enough with it to confirm my suspicions. And then a few weeks ago I found it again and thought it might be better as a larger drawing in ink. What you see is the latest pencil layout for that big drawing. The t-shirt idea isn’t dead, but by finalising the details on the bigger drawing I’ll be in a much better position to undertake a reductive exercise to create a better shirt design. That’s the thinking anyway, and co-incidentally this picture has a working title of “The Bull”. S’funny how it worked out like that eh?
Aahh, back to the blog, at last. It seems to be a never ending consequence of working freelance that just when you’re getting into the flow of something, another job comes along and completely consumes you and all of your creative energy. This time it was the construction of some very large card models in what’s known as poly-board, a foam cored board with thin card faces. In this case 10mm thick, they were really big models with large curving surfaces, which requires a very particular approach to construction and problem solving. I won’t go into any more detail here but, I’m of a mind to expand on the subject further in future posts. Needless to say the time scales for these kinds of work are short, the working days long and brain fatigue a constant companion. But it’s done now, until the next one.
So, while the above has served to get some income in, it has prevented me from getting on with a stack of drawing stuff that was all lined up. But this down time is never wasted. My trusty sketchbook, currently an A5 Moleskine with lovely creamy paper, comes with me to work every day and allows me the chance to have a scribble during my lunchbreaks. Armed with a couple of the ideas that were waiting to be developed further, these snatched chunks of time enable some thinking to occur and help to satisfy the daily drawing need.
These three little doodles are about trying to find a progression on the ideas I’ve been having lately about cropping and framing the images to create little story snapshots whilst still maintaining some dynamism to the pictures. At the moment they seem like glimpses, captured in a moment and an attempt to try and say more through showing less, if that makes sense. Currently they are all pretty small so working them up a bit at a larger size will help to give them a bit more purpose. With the Christmas break upon us one can never be too sure how much free time can be given to some quality drawing time but here’s hoping we can steam into the new year with a bunch of fresh and exciting ideas on the go.
Finally, it just remains for me to wish all of my followers and readers a very Happy Christmas and thank you to you all for staying with Soulcraftcandy over the past year.
Lots of folk who say they can’t draw actually can, and time and again one finds out after some very elementary enquiry that the reason they’ve got to thinking this is that they never take any time to practice, and so, when they do pick up a pencil or pen it always leads to disappointment. For those of us who draw a lot, this kind of existential dilemma is a less formidable obstacle to overcome. That doesn’t mean though that things are necessarily easier for us. We still need to practice, just as much as someone who plays a musical instrument does, it’s the way we keep our skills sharp and develop ourselves.
The greatest practice is sketching and the best thing about it is that you can do it anywhere and at any time pretty much. It doesn’t have to be from life, though keeping ones observational skills up to scratch pretty much necessitates it. With a whole world out there to look at there is plenty of subject matter to choose from and nothing to be intimidated by. I have always subscribed to the view that it’s ok to visit a zoo, for example, and simply draw a building or a tree. You sketch what catches your eye, what you naturally gravitate toward. if you don’t like drawing people then don’t draw them unless you actually want to improve this skill. Sketching can be so easily turned into a stick with which we beat ourselves with, and this removes the fun from the exercise.Sketching is a drawers play time, the serious stuff comes later, so enjoy it. I’m sure lots of us reckon we don’t do it enough, but no one is counting the hours. The important thing is to do it when you can.
Here are a couple of sketches done the other day on a visit to the RAF museum at Hendon in North London. I tend to go with my old chum Ben, who’s pretty handy with a pen, and this lends an extra dimension to the day as we are able to meet up after sessions and discuss our sketches and the views, angles and processes we’re engaging with. It makes it much more interesting. I took a brown paper sketchbook I bought recently and after a couple of roughs in soft pencil I thought I’d have a go with a brown ink pen, which works well with the paper, and splodge some highlights around with a thin white chalk. The first one is looking up into an open cockpit of a Lightning fighter with a dummy pilot sat inside. The second a cylinder head from the radial engine on the front of a Bristol Bulldog biplane. There is so much to look at at the museum that one is never short of a subject, the collection is huge and it’s free to visitors too. What more do you need?
Finally here’s an update of the cherry red bobber I’ve been working away on of late. For a background I’ve decided to mimic the kind of bold swipes designers sometimes use to back up their marker drawings. More about this in the next post when it should be finished.