Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Single Line

5/4/16 ballpoint pen
Today in Bill Evans’ “Quick Sketch” class, we did several very interesting assignments. The first was the single-line exercise that I’ve seen in drawing books (and examples online). While I’ve tried it before, I’ve never enjoyed it as much as I did today. In the past, I think I’ve always felt compelled to make a “complete” drawing (the whole contour of the chosen subject or the whole scene), and I’d waste a lot of time trying to figure out ways to minimize backtracking (the Etch A Sketch look). I think I was missing the point. It’s not about making a complete drawing; it’s about being loose, spontaneous and fast while capturing the essence of the subject (in this case, our classmates). Bill said this exercise is particularly effective in helping us avoid “sketchy” (brief, tentative, continually restated) lines. Today I finally “got it” and had so much fun with nothing more than a four-color ballpoint pen (at right)!

The second exercise had the same goal of loose spontaneity using any medium. Although this time we weren’t limited to a single line, we were to use as few lines as possible and be confident (not “sketchy”) in making those lines, again capturing the subject’s essence and without necessarily completing a form. I chose a brush pen, which felt ideally suited to the exercise (below).
5/4/16 brush pen

After several demos by Bill using watercolor or charcoal on wet paper, we had an opportunity to use the latter ourselves. On water-saturated newsprint, we used compressed charcoal sticks to draw, and then used wide brushes to smear the charcoal, creating dense, textured shading (bottom of page). Since it requires a lot of wet messiness (good thing I still had my nitrile gloves with me), it’s not something I would do at home, and certainly not on location, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process today. 

5/4/16 compressed charcoal

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