Dudlow Drawing Board

SUDDENLY EVERYONE IS DRAWING! Which is great, because we could all do it when we were seven years old but somehow we got rusty. Here in the leafy Liverpool suburbs, veteran illustrator John Minnion runs a three-hour Tuesday afternoon session teaching people to improve their drawing.

PEOPLE PLACES AND THINGS are all fair game for our pencils. Figures (with and without clothes) faces, fabrics, flowers, fields, dogs, doorways, rooftops, treetops, treetrunks – all on the agenda. If you fancy joining us, contact johnminnion@gmail.com

ARCHIVE: johnminnion.tumblr/archive


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HOLIDAY PICTURES: JULIE

This Pembrokeshire seascape (Top) seems just right to me. The use of pencil is very skilled – look at the contrasting marks to render restless water and solid rock, and the restraint in the background that gives plenty of distance.

Below it, not quite the same depth managed in depicting the boat, making it appear a bit like a toy. But to be fair, you were under duress at the time what with your tent having blown away in the night.

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HOLIDAY PICTURES: GEORGE

It is so easy to just point and click with your smartphone, but getting out the sketchpad and giving the scenery half an hour’s artistic attention is  an infinitely better way to experience a place. You sometimes have to push yourself to do it, but it’s always worth it. Here’s a couple of fine holiday pictures from George, that arrived like postcards in my Inbox.

The top picture is Warkworth Castle and the second is a view of Lindisfarne, the semi-detatched Northumbrian island with its monastery.

Below that you’ll see the same picture, but I have tinkered with the composition. I did ask George’s permission, honest! But compare the two and see what you think.

What I felt was that George’s positioning of the island and rowing boat worked against the serenity and spaciousness of the subject. The eye is drawn up the boat directly to the island. Just adjusting their position in relation to each other, so that the eye now meanders like a snake, slows everything down.

The format changes too, from portrait to square. In a portrait (upright) format, the eye is encouraged to travel up and down. But a square has poise. It is balanced, and encourages calm, contained eye movement – sometimes circular, sometimes a gentle wave motion like this.

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Reblogged from huffingtonpost

fantasyofawanderer:

tillyouandiseethesun:

this isn’t even a problem

Where can i get one of those

Is this a digital drawing? Hmm. I was told there’d be a mouse…

(Source: youtube.com)

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THE WALLED GARDEN

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Angela and Jane drawing in the Walled Garden

You never know when it’s the last outdoor drawing Tuesday of the summer. So we got out while we could, into the Walled Garden in Calderstones Park. It is rich with visual stimulation – almost too rich for anyone trying to home in on a single subject for a picture.

Within the Walled Garden there’s an inner sanctum: a Japanese Garden. That’s even more visually stimulating.

In fact, what came out of the afternoon was not a series of pictures at all, but quite a lot of technical experimentation by everybody – along with a sense of the sheer pleasure of drawing in such a place on such a day.

Angela came nearest to composing a picture (below) but it certainly needs another visit to consolidate. The main work on the sundial required some careful consideration of perspective. Now it is ready for the freer drawing of the vegetation, which should enhance the picture a lot. Let’s hope there’s another warm Tuesday. If not, I think you have photos you can work from?

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Sundial by Angela  

In contrast, George concentrated on ways of rendering foliage. Last week he was drawing vines; this week, bamboo.image

It’s an unspectacular but valuable activity, to hone your pencil technique like this. Foliage looks chaotic, but the harder you look at it, the more you can see how it’s made up of repeated shapes and shadows arranged on an underlying scaffold of stems and branches.

There are ways of glossing over areas of foliage, and sometimes that is what is what is needed. At other times it pays to focus on the visual character of particular bushes or clumps and ask what makes them distinctive, and how that can be turned into pencil marks.

Jane (below) had every intention of composing a picture, and she is usually quite quick to decide on subject matter. She selected this sculpted tree, the rocks and pond at its foot, a couple of bushes and some vertical bamboo shoots in the foreground.

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She also wanted to try using Indian Ink for the first time. It’s a dominating medium and, combined with watercolour washes, it can be very distinctive. But I think it led her to feel out of control of the picture. Well, this almost always happens when you try new techniques.

The result is more graphic, less painterly, than your normal style, but very striking. I like the different ways you have applied the ink (brush, stick), and I think the limited palette of watercolour (too limited, you felt: no green for example) actually works very well – once you accept it doesn’t much reflect the reality. I hope you can go on with this at home.

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Marta drawing in the Japanese Garden

Marta responded to the rich subject matter by using a thick pastel stick to do a series of fast impressions. Here’s just two of many:

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imageThis second one is not a nuclear explosion. in fact it is the same sculpted tree that Jane drew.

Marta then settled on just one shapely treetrunk and worked at subtle ways of combining charcoal with white pastel (or chalk?) on a brown ground. I think the resulting nuances of texture and luminosity are beautiful.

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I framed it up for you, to see how it looks when it is displayed as a picture rather than a study:image

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ANGELA’S PARK VIEW
Angela took on the challenge of a panorama of distant foliage which might be seen as a swathe of green but actually contained a lot of variety and distinct shapes. There’s a lot of work here on finding pencil techniques to express this variety. An embracing couple (mid-distance) and a patient dog (foreground) helped the composition.

ANGELA’S PARK VIEW

Angela took on the challenge of a panorama of distant foliage which might be seen as a swathe of green but actually contained a lot of variety and distinct shapes. There’s a lot of work here on finding pencil techniques to express this variety. An embracing couple (mid-distance) and a patient dog (foreground) helped the composition.

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JULIE IN TONES 2 
This picture got left out of the JULIE IN TONES posting because Judith slipped away before I could scan it. I thought it was beautifully drawn, possibly the best bit of drawing Judith has done in these sessions.

JULIE IN TONES 2 

This picture got left out of the JULIE IN TONES posting because Judith slipped away before I could scan it. I thought it was beautifully drawn, possibly the best bit of drawing Judith has done in these sessions.

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JULIE IN TONES

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Julie by George

Julie is an elegant model with smooth, dark skin. So, this was a good opportunity to concentrate on tonal drawing.

So that we could all focus on her figure without the usual visual additions of living-room clutter, I simplified the setting by putting a light-toned sheet over the armchair and a white screen behind her.

People found a variety of different ways to show tone: brush and ink wash, loose scribble, close hatching, loose hatching, coloured chalks and smearing with fingers. Some great results.

imageJulie by Judith

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Julie by the other Julie. I was going on to you about doing a bit of planning to prevent your drawing going off the edges…  Then you turn out this absolutely charming composition. 

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Julie by Angela

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Julie by Jane

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Julie by George

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by Marta

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by Jane

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by Angela. Lovely.

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by George

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by Marta

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by Jane.

Having finished the drawing early, but aware she had some proportion problems, Jane used the last couple of minutes to draw it again, and came up with this nifty line drawing:

imageThe problem people had with this pose  was getting that foot the right size. It is actually much nearer to us than the head. If you are aware of that, it’s then worth erring on the side of exaggeration.

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IT’S HARD TO SEE THE TREES FROM THE WOOD

Jane has moved from a pencil sketch to a pastel drawing to a full painting. The two drawings were done on-site, but she felt apologetic about the fact the painting was done away from the subject.

But I think that is a positive thing. What nature offers us is far too complex and rich and random. What the artist does is select and develop the raw material. A session on site followed later by development away from the scene seems exactly the right approach.

The painting has both extended and simplified her original material, strengthened its abstract qualities yet retained what mattered most to her from the original scene.

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FRANKIE AS WATERFALL

I love a good Waterfall pose.This is Frankie…drawn by Julie…

drawn by Judith…drawn by Marta.

And another pose, as drawn by Marta.

It’s hard to judge a life drawing when the model is still in place. Your drawing can only be disappointing compared to the reality you are aiming to depict. Once the model steps out of view, the drawing begins to stand by itself. Then you can judge it as a picture.

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ONE-MINUTE WONDERS

We usually start a life drawing session with 2-minute gesture drawings to loosen us up. This is liberating for both model and artist. It allows the model do try something more extreme than (s)he might care to hold over a longer period. And it simplifies the challenge for the artist: forget measurements, proportions, composition… just get the image on paper.

It is important with these gesture drawings to attempt to get the whole figure drawn, however brief the time allowed. Eyes must be on the model: there is only time for the briefest glances down at the paper. The hand responds as rapidly as possible. All this makes it a very Right Brain activity.

After a few of these 2-minute gestures, the times are relaxed to 5 minutes, 10 minutes etc, and gradually the approach changes, with more conscious judgments and choices coming into play. Now you can rub out mistakes, work into areas, add background etc.

Hopefully some of that right-brain freedom remains, but there is also evidence of construction, composition and style considerations in these drawings. As pictures they are more developed and sophisticated than the gesture drawings, but at the same time it can be disappointing to see hesitation and self-consciousness returning to the drawing process once the urgency has relaxed.

Sometimes instead of relaxing, it’s worth tightening the gesture pose times, from 2 minutes to one minute and even less. The result often produces lines that have qualities of vigor and certainty – even if they are rather hit-or-miss.

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It can even cause your work to be mistaken for a Matisse or a Picasso. Actually this one (above) is by Julie.

The model here was Frankie, who has a repertoire of wonderful gymnastic twists and contortions for these gesture poses.

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BEECH TREE AND BIRCHES

Marta was attracted by the gnarled forms and textures on this old beech tree trunk, and the addition of the lopped branches alongside it and three angled birch trunks in the mid-distance makes for a promising composition.

Having drawn the main features in rich detail, the challenge now is how to do the background. Choosing a mid-tone paper gives her the option of adding highlights to get some of those sunshine effects. Looking forward to seeing how this develops.

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THREE TREESCAPE SKETCHES BY MARTA

Marta had a week off work, so she returned to Calderstones Park to do a picture that she had in mind from last Tuesday. First however, she did this handful of quick sketches. Exuberant, energetic responses to being out in the park on a warm afternoon instead of being stuck inside at work.

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More landscapes by Hale Woodruff

Hale Woodruff Normandy Landscape painted in 1928 during his time studying in France

Hale Woodruff Georgia Landscape Mural painted in 1935

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Reblogged from bofransson
bofransson:

Twilight | Hale Woodruff (1926)

Hale Woodruff (1900–1980) was a black American painter and muralist who studied in Paris, then with Diego Rivera in Mexico. Much of his work addressed social issues, but he clearly had an intense response to landscape.

bofransson:

Twilight | Hale Woodruff (1926)

Hale Woodruff (1900–1980) was a black American painter and muralist who studied in Paris, then with Diego Rivera in Mexico. Much of his work addressed social issues, but he clearly had an intense response to landscape.

(via fantasyofawanderer)

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Reblogged from trueoldsorcerer
trueoldsorcerer:

Come With Me
by Hubert Leszczynski

Trees as a sort of architecture

trueoldsorcerer:

Come With Me

Trees as a sort of architecture

(via fantasyofawanderer)