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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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)

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TREES AS SIGNIFICANT FORMS

Surrounded as we are by trees, what makes us pick a particular one out to draw?

For some it is clearly the textures and shadows caused by sunlight on the foliage. For me it is mainly about taking a pleasure in form. Especially the shapes of trunks and the twists and angles of branches…

I love this one:

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Tree struck by lightning by John Craxton (1922-2009)

and this one:image

Willow at Heelsum by Willem Roelofs.(1807–1894).

Here are some very characterful trees:image

Under brush at Civita Castellana by Camille Corot (1796 - 1875)

imageQuarry by Albrecht Durer (1471–1528)

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Tree by Daniel Garber (1880–1958). In this case it is the balance I like, which reminds me of those wonderful mobiles by Alexander Calder:

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Mobile by Alexander Calder

It is surprising how often trees take on forms that remind us of other animate things: animals, hands, witches or whatever. This gives the trees a dramatic character, often intensified by the way light and shadow fall on them. It makes an individual character out of a particular tree. This sort of ‘tree personality’ can be captured in a drawing.

Are we absolutely sure trees aren’t really human? What about this Silver Birch (below)?

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and this…

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No wonder the Ancients believed in Dryads – female tree spirits.

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HOLIDAY DRAWINGS

Not sure if it’s quite ok to be uploading my own stuff here, but I thought I should set an example. It would have been shameful to have come back from a West Country holiday without some holiday drawings – especially as the weather was perfect.

The tiny point on the top of the Malvern Hills is Sandra, who walked up there and back to give me time to do the drawing. Also to avoid the sound of me humming passages of music by Elgar.

Now looking forward to seeing everyone else’s holiday pics.

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MONKISH MAN: Thinking like an illustrator

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Kieran by Judith

This week our model was Kieran, who posed in his cloak – well, it’s really a hooded dressing-gown, but it gave him a monkishness, even a Middle Earthishness, which was what we needed because we wanted to draw him as a character. The idea was to think like an illustrator and use these poses as raw material for figures in a scene to develop later.

In particular there were two longer poses relating to each other. The first was talking with a hand gesture:image

by Angela

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by Jane

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by Julie

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by Marta

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by Judith

…And then the second pose was listening thoughtfully, with hood up.

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by Angela

imageby Paulette

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by Julie

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by Marta

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by Judith

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by Jane

All nice drawings but, for an illustrator, just a starting point.

The next thing would be to combine them in a picture which illustrates a story – nothing specific, but just giving the feel of something going on.

It’s useful to use thumbnail sketches to develop a composition. I don’t think it’s good enough just to plonk two figures alongside each other.

One figure may become more dominant now

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Background might be mapped in…

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The picture shape might be changed

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– though in practice the shape might already be fixed by the format of the book or magazine this is drawn for. Traditionally the original is drawn bigger than it will finally appear, and gets reduced for printing.

Having got the pose from the model, you might want to completely change the character now – using other sketches, photos, or drawing your own expressions from a mirror.

Then it’s a question of what extra elements (details like props and scenery – this is a lot like stage design) will enhance the story

A lot of the art of illustration is being able to gather together visual references from various sources and combine them in one picture in your own style.

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COMPOSING LANDSCAPES WITH DEPTH - PART TWO

imageRichard Wilson 18th century Welsh landscape painter

This picture shows another very important device for showing depth: the PATHWAY

Think of it this way: Imagine the view in your picture has attracted the eye of a passing motorist who has pulled in at a lay-by to look.  You want to be able to persuade this viewer out of her car and lure her into your landscape. So, provide a pathway. A path, a road, a stream, a shoreline, a wall, a fence – or in more abstract terms, directional lines leading, usually from a bottom edge or corner, into the heart of the scene.

You can lead the eye in at walking pace…

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…or at speed

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…or meander in slowly following an s-shape…image

…or hurtle in downhill. Fences are great hurtlers, with their perspective lines…

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In this photo there’s a lovely change of pace. Having pulled us in a great rush to the focal point of the two buildings, the fence then takes the eye off to the left at a gentler pace to the dark foliage top left.

By the way, an S-shape isn’t always a gentle meander. In this ink and wash drawing (below), the assertive nature of the pen and brush strokes pulls us in. Pen is a bold medium and it can’t be rubbed out if it goes wrong, but it can be zestful and assertive.
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Sometimes it’s the vertical posts of a fence, ever closer together, that give the distance feel. Another device is a distinctive shape repeated smaller – like these birds:.image

Photographers learn these tricks early on. In this photo (below), the repeated shapes of the stones, quickly shrinking as they recede, combine with the forceful perspective lines to rush our eyes towards a vanishing point. But before we hurtle to oblivion, the eye is distracted and pulled back to the left by the static house in the mid distance…image

Of course, all this assumes you want to achieve the effect of distance.

Post-romantic artists have questioned the whole business of simulating three-dimensional scenes. They have argued that flatness of subject  is more true to the flatness of the medium they are using. They have deliberately taken the elements of landscape and produced something flatter. You can see early experimenting of this sort with Van Gogh’s treatment of clouds, which seem to have the sort of detail and dynamism traditionally reserved for the foreground:

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imageVan Gogh House and Ploughman 1889) Very flat…

By the turn of the twentieth century, landscapes without depth were commonplace. Jawlensky’s Wasserberg (1907 below) is a flat arrangement of areas of texture. The important thing is mood, not depthimage

Klimt (1915) obviously doesn’t mind that this horizon looks actually nearer than the lake in the foreground: it’s all about textures.

imageNot that depth was universally abandoned. At the same time, Surrealists like Dali (below) were playing with depth to create something dreamlike or upsettling:image

This is by the English neo-Romantic John Craxton (1942) Exaggerated depth from the age of cinematic distortion.image

Meanwhile the Cubists had flattened everything completely

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Mary Swanzy (Irish cubist painter)

 

Georges Braque L’Estaque

But even if the Cubists were not bothered about showing depth in the traditional way, there are still pathways and other directional lines that invite the viewer in and around their landscapes.

However realistic or abstract a picture is, it still need to be composed.

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COMPOSING LANDSCAPES WITH DEPTH - PART ONE

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I picked out this drawing by Heather L Young because I thought it demonstrated how to depict light-coloured foliage by darkening the negative areas around it.

But this picture also serves to show the compositional weakness of plonking objects alongside each other. This picture naturally divides up like a triptych:image

Nothing against triptychs. But when composing a conventional picture we want to attract the viewer’s eye, welcome it into our landscape and take it for an excursion around our subject-matter.

This scene by John Sell Cotman is one of my favourite examples. Allow Mr Cotman to take you by the hand and guide you in along the lakeside path on the right, introduce you to the cows, show you that light, puffy tree left of centre, then lead you up the steep dark cliff on the left, across the ridge behind (pausing to enjoy the view of Cadair Idris, rising to 893 metres in the background), then back down the winding path on the right, catching up with a couple of dawdling cows as you return to the herd standing in the water.

It’s a satisfying, circular journey full of rich detail. Both artist and viewer are happy. (Cows too)

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Confronted by the great outdoors, a landscape artist has to select and organise subject-matter from what can sometimes present itself as a rich but random profusion of details.

We know we are performing a trick: it’s a 3D world out there and we are doing a two-dimensional picture. So we need some trusty procedures to create the illusion of DEPTH.

And the first procedure is to OVERLAP.

imageA simple example. On the left: four boats and a jetty with no great depth. On the right, the objects are adjusted to overlap, and suddenly DEPTH! Even the two distant headlands are adjusted and one becomes further away.

imageThis looks like some kind of tor, such as you might find on Dartmoor.. Because of the overlaps – enhanced by the shadows – this view moves upward and away from us.

When building a landscape, it’s not so much objects as layers that overlap. And as they recede, they need to be drawn in different ways.

LAYERS
You can broadly divide your landscape into foreground, mid-ground and background. It’s obvious in this photograph:


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Foreground: sharp details, range of bright colours, tones and textures, dynamic shapes,
Mid-ground: more general textures, softer colours, tones and outlines
Background: Hazy soft-edged shapes, horizontal lines, narrow range of blue-grey colours, no details
This is true even in pictures depicting depth of yards rather than miles:

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Landscape painters through the ages have routinely followed this blueprint:imageAsher Brown Durand (American 19th century)

imageClaude Lorrain (French b.1600, working in Italy)
Claude was the first great landscape painter and at the time the landscape genre was disapproved of as being secular and unlassical.
Pictures like this work like a theatre stage, with the foreground acting like open curtains.

Here’s one of Claude’s drawings. Note how expertly he controls light, simply by varying the density of pencil work.
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This is nearer to what we are drawing in the park: you can see the different approaches applied to the foreground and mid-ground trees.

Now three paintings by a wonderful Welsh landscape painter from the eighteenth Century, Richard Wilsonimage

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What incredible distance he conveys!
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End of Part One

Continued in Part Two…

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Reblogged from fleurdulys
fleurdulys:

Forest Lake - Stanislav Zhukovsky
1934

fleurdulys:

Forest Lake - Stanislav Zhukovsky

1934

(via fantasyofawanderer)

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Landscape drawing in Calderstones Park

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GREENWOOD’S STUDIES OF TREES

I have been given a copy of this lovely book. Someone with a name like Greenwood seems fated to draw trees, and he does it so beautifully. The reproductions are lithographs, so there are no halftone dots in the pictures. What i love is how he varies the pencil mark to capture the essence of the foliage of each tree.

Ash

Here’s the detail of the pencil work:Ash detail

Plane

Planedetail

Spruce

Sprucedetail

Scotch Fir

Scotch Fir – detail

Beech

Beechdetail

Willow

Willow detail, showing varying pencil marks for leaves, branches, trunk and trees in the background

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THREE TREES

The last three Tuesdays have been dry and warm, so we have been drawing in the park. The idea was to home in on one tree and focus on its form and textures. Here’s the first one, which is in fact quite dead –

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– which gives our artists the advantage of not having to attempt to draw foliage. As you can see it casts a wonderful shadow when the sun is out, but unfortunately the sun was basically not out when we were drawing.

imageThis (above) is how Julie drew it, wonderfully solid and woody, with marvelous bark textures.

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Paulette put two sessions of work into her depiction of it,  and in the process solved some problems about relating a foreground form to a background.. She decided from the start to simplify the tree’s structure to just a handful of branches.

Both Julie and Paulette chose an upright format when they might have done better to have the possibility of expanding the drawing width-wise. A lot of the character of this particular tree is in the way the branches splay out. But I am carping; both drawings are excellent. It’s just that we often forget to consider the shape of our drawings before we start… don’t we?

Several people opted to draw what I shall call the Firework Tree: it seems to shoot out of the ground and explode. It has at least a dozen separate trunks – or should I say trunklets – that rise in convolutions before dividing into hundreds of branches that splay upwards and outwards.

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Jane chose to concentrate on the energy and rhythms in the tree, at the expense of accuracy.

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Judith was more careful about accuracy, and also got the explosive feel of the tree very well. But the challenge then was to depict the foliage. I don’t know what species this is – perhaps a form of Rowan? Anyway, its leaves are compound like Rowan leaves, and they are much lighter than the branches they are seen against. This is a challenge.

Meanwhile, George selected a rather majestic tree that stood alone. Calderstones Park has a number of rare species, and this may be one of them. Or I may just be a bit limited in my tree recognition. image

.Anyway, George carefully observed the structure of the branches and worked out ways of depicting the foliage convincingly. He too perhaps chose the wrong page format, but was happily able to extend the branches across the margin onto the previous page of his sketchpad.

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MIMI IN SPANISH POSES

Mimi Amore came and modeled for us again, this time in her Spanish flamenco kit

You can see her in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4APv3h8JJ8

The dress came from a charity shop, she says, and she made the ‘roses’. A very talented lady, and she inspired some good drawings from our session. Here’s two by Angela, Wonderfully elegant, this first one: hardly a weak line to be seen.

and three from George:

Beautiful. This last drawing put me in mind of Degas, who unfortunately died some time before Mimi was born, so sadly missed out on drawing her. Here’s how he might have drawn Mimi…

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KURT WEILL by Kevin
A lovely, skillful bit of drawing from a photograph.
Kurt Weill was Brecht’s collaborator on The Threepenny Opera, the composer of  haunting cabaret songs like ‘Mack the Knife’ which epitomise the dangerous atmosphere of Berlin between the wars – before the Nazis forced both Brecht and Weill to flee to America.

KURT WEILL by Kevin

A lovely, skillful bit of drawing from a photograph.

Kurt Weill was Brecht’s collaborator on The Threepenny Opera, the composer of  haunting cabaret songs like ‘Mack the Knife’ which epitomise the dangerous atmosphere of Berlin between the wars – before the Nazis forced both Brecht and Weill to flee to America.

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George made a resolution to draw something whenever he goes away. This time it was his son’s student accommodation. ‘I think I prettied it up rather’ he says. But even student squalor obeys the rules of perspective…

George made a resolution to draw something whenever he goes away. This time it was his son’s student accommodation. ‘I think I prettied it up rather’ he says. But even student squalor obeys the rules of perspective…

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SKETCHES OF EVE by George and Judith

The idea was that Eve would stay in one hour-long pose but we would do a number of drawings, starting with 2-minute sketches and even changing viewpoint a couple of times; eventually settling down to a longish drawing incorporating some of the surrounds. At the end, everybody had enough information to complete a picture without Eve’s continued presence. I hope to post some of them up next week.

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Paulette came along to the class professing to be a beginner. Then she came up with this confident drawing of teasels in a cut-glass vase. The little touches of white highlight really make this.
There’s a little bit of smudging on the right, where the drawing hand has brushed the surface. It always happens unless you are extremely careful, but there are simple ways of avoiding it which you can read about here: http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Smearing-Lead-when-You-Draw   
Basically, keep a piece of kitchen roll handy to rest your drawing hand on. And use fixative.

Paulette came along to the class professing to be a beginner. Then she came up with this confident drawing of teasels in a cut-glass vase. The little touches of white highlight really make this.

There’s a little bit of smudging on the right, where the drawing hand has brushed the surface. It always happens unless you are extremely careful, but there are simple ways of avoiding it which you can read about here: http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Smearing-Lead-when-You-Draw   

Basically, keep a piece of kitchen roll handy to rest your drawing hand on. And use fixative.