Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Growing into Looseness

12/6/16 colored pencils
Every now and then, especially when I use a brush pen to sketch people, I receive compliments about the fluidity or looseness of my sketches. I really appreciate those comments because that elusive quality of looseness is something I’ve long aspired to without knowing how to practice or achieve it.

When I first started sketching, I used to view and admire the works of certain sketchers known for their “loose” styles (Suhita Shirodkar, Inma Serrano, Melanie Reim and Eduardo Salavisa are just a few favorites that come to mind) and wonder how I could do what they do. My sketches always looked stiff and lifeless by comparison. When I tried for the seemingly casual, imprecise methods I thought they were using, my results were just messy – and even the messiness seemed “tight.” When I complained about this to more experienced sketchers, I was encouraged to “just loosen up,” which seemed like reasonable advice – but how?
10/6/16 brush pen

I never actually learned the how, and frankly, now I’m convinced that it’s not something that can be taught. And yet somehow, after five years of daily sketching, I have managed to achieve a certain level of looseness – sometimes, not predictably, and certainly not with ease. It must be something I’ve “grown” into over time, an outcome of gaining confidence. Or maybe it’s something even more basic, like improved eye-hand-brain coordination. I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the question of looseness lately as I’ve been focusing on using colored pencils as my primary coloring medium. Since working on location is generally not the best way to get to know a medium, I’ve been practicing in the comfort of my home on small still lifes. Although fruits and vegetables are not my favorite sketch subjects (though they do have color going for them!), my intention is to study with them at home and eventually apply what I learn in the field.

I love the gradual build-up of hues and shading possible with colored pencils, but I’m not always happy with the results. The pears and squashes look OK, but they seem “tight” and overly controlled. Although I know a dry pencil isn’t the same as a liquid brush pen (or other liquid media), I think it must be possible to create a loose impression with colored pencils. After all, looseness is not defined by the medium; it’s certainly just as possible to make stiff, lifeless sketches with a brush pen (I’ve certainly made my share) as it is to make graceful, fluid ones.
12/3/16 brush pen

I’m not impatient or in a hurry; heck, if I were, I’d never use colored pencils in the first place. I know I have to grow into looseness (or outgrow tightness?), which takes time. But I wish I knew that I was on the right track.

11/30/16 colored pencils

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if you can be loose with colored pencils. The medium doesn't really lend itself to that since you are constantly building up the layers. I think your sketches themselves are showing a looser look...especially the hula dancers. I think it is easier to be loose with watercolors or a brush pen. Nice pieces!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...