Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Training for Lightning Sketches

4/17/18 1-min. poses

Yesterday when I wrote about lightning sketches, I totally forgot to mention one of the best ways to train for them: life drawing.

My primary motivation for going to figure drawing sessions is that the regular practice strengthens my eye and hand for human gestures and proportions, which is very helpful when I’m sketching people “in real life.” Of course, drawing a posed model who is absolutely still for one to 20 minutes is a total luxury compared to drawing “real” people, who tend not to hold poses at all (unless they’re busily preoccupied with their devices). I think the greater benefit, though, in terms of teaching me to sketch faster, is that I become more adept at gauging how much of a sketch I can do in a given amount of time.

Shown here are a few sketches done from one-minute poses (above) and two others from two-minute poses (below). There’s not much difference in the amount of detail I included, yet I used the full length of time in each case. During the one-minute poses, I’m moving my hand and arm as fast as possible and sometimes I don’t get all of the model’s limbs, but I at least try to complete the gesture so that it’s clear what the model was doing. During the two-minute poses, I’m doing the same thing, but I can move my hand and arm a little more slowly, hopefully gaining a bit more accuracy in proportions. With two minutes, I am able to get all the limbs in, and the gesture is always complete. They don’t look very different, but from regular practice, I have trained myself to know how much slower I can draw (twice as slow!) when I have two whole minutes compared to one. I also always choose a brush pen for these very short poses because a liquid medium is easier to move quickly compared to a dry one.

4/17/18 2-min. poses

Shown below are sketches made from 10-minute and 20-minute poses. With these time lengths, I can choose a slower medium (colored pencil), put in a bit more detail, and define the forms more completely through shading and highlights. In both poses, I used the full amount of time for each, so I should be training myself to know how much of a sketch I can make in those time spans. But am I?

4/17/18 10-min. pose
4/17/18 20-min. pose
Having 20 minutes is downright leisurely, both at life drawing and in “real life” drawing, and lately I have developed the bad habit of overworking a 20-minute sketch beginning around the time a 10-minute one would have ended. A 10-minute pose seems to be my sweet spot for capturing proportion, gesture and form. I could just stop after 10 minutes and start a new sketch to fill the time slot. But Id rather learn how to make a stronger 20-minute drawing.

Today’s insight: Maybe I’ve gotten so good at sketching at lightning speed that I dont know how to sketch more slowly! This is definitely something to work on.

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