Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Bra and a Feather Boa

1/10/13 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Zig marker, Hand Book sketchbook
I’m reading The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds, by John Muir Laws. I think it’s going to make me a better sketcher of birds as well as more knowledgeable about birds in general. (I had no idea bird anatomy could be so fascinating!) One thing that I read over breakfast this morning stayed with me all day and will probably remain one of those basic rules of drawing, similar to “draw what you see.”

The author points out that when drawing from nature, birds are often too far away to see clearly or partly obstructed by shrubs or leaves. While it’s tempting to try to guess what you can’t see and draw it anyway, you’re likely to be sorry if you don’t really know from memory what you aren’t seeing. His advice: If you can’t see it, don’t draw it.
1/10/13 Private Reserve Velvet Black ink, Zig, Hand Book 

This afternoon at Revolutions Espresso, I ignored this advice, even though it was still in my head. Trying to sketch three people in a business meeting, I noted that a couple people each had pulled a spare chair beside him or her to hold bags and coats. I wasn’t sitting close enough to see the tangle of chair legs clearly, and other tables and chairs were between them and me, so I couldn’t see much of anything easily. I was also somewhat distracted by the unusual artwork on the walls, including a bra and a feather boa, and was starting to think my sketch would have been better if I’d focused on the art instead of all the chairs. But I tried to fake it and see if I could figure out where the chair legs should be.

After a while I gave up and focused on a single chair and table, which were close enough to see clearly and without confusion.

Mr. Laws was right: If I can’t see it, I shouldn’t draw it.

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