|6/26/22 same scene from photo|
|6/24/22 Green Lake (from life)|
The final week of my 30-day compositional challenge resulted in a couple of interesting observations. One afternoon at Green Lake, I made two thumbnail studies from life (above left). I noticed and then became fixated on retaining a tiny sliver of light on one side of a tree, which was otherwise silhouetted. I took a few photos before I left the spot.
It’s very rare that I would draw the exact same scene from both life and from a photo, so I wondered how different the experiences would be. A couple days later, I made another thumbnail study, this time from a photo (above right). Each experience had different benefits. From the photo, I was better able to abstract the background because it’s slightly out of focus. But I could barely see that sliver of light in the photo. Since I knew it was there, I suppose I could have faked it. But if I hadn’t first drawn it from life and had only snapped a photo, would I have even noticed that tiny bit of light? (This question is the sketcher’s equivalent of whether a falling tree makes a sound if no one is there to hear it.)
|6/28/22 from photo|
And speaking of observation, one study I made from a photo seemed to take on a life of its own as a drawing, not just a thumbnail: the one of trash cans (at left). Beyond capturing the shapes and values, I got interested in rendering that slim crescent of light on the wheel and the unexpected reflected light under the part of the trash can that protrudes slightly. I probably would not have noticed those bits if I hadn’t made this composition study. Not everything may be worthy as a drawing subject, but everything is worthy of the close observation that drawing demands.
As you’ve likely gathered from my weekly reports, Ian Roberts’ 30-day challenge has been enormously instructive, illuminating and rewarding, even in ways that I hadn’t expected. I automatically “see” compositions wherever I look now. I don’t expect all my compositions to be great just because I’ve focused on studying the topic for a month. But if a sketch ends up going awry, I think I’m now much better able to identify what went wrong. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that it’s a faulty composition – and perhaps the real fault would be that I didn’t make a thumbnail study first! All those books I read and instructors I heard (but didn’t listen to) were right: Taking a few minutes to make a thumbnail first can save so much time and aggravation later!
Most surprising was something that wasn’t even an objective of the challenge: I gained an appreciation for the value of drawing from photos. I even found a way to enjoy it (though it will never replace drawing from life). I’m ruminating on more thoughts related to drawing from photos, to this challenge specifically, and to art challenges in general . . . coming up in future posts.
|6/25/22 Greenwood neighborhood|
|6/27/22 Green Lake|
|6/27/22 Green Lake|
|6/30/22 Gas Works Park|