Down tools and get back to work

The enjoyment mixed with intermittent frustration of my arty holiday-come-extended-weekend is drawing to a close (pardon the pun). Time to down tools. Tomorrow it will be back to the day job, managing a team of software quality analysts.

Talking of tools, drawing can be an incredibly cheap pastime. I splashed out on a snazzy pencil case, a set of HB pencils and top quality erasers last week and spent a whopping £12.

Tools of the Drawing Trade

I have lots of quality paper that I inherited from my artsy mother (god rest her soul) and, well, once you’ve got pencil and paper, what else do you need?

The Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain book and workbook were more expensive (currently £24 total on Amazon) and of course you can go wild buying more and more books and gadgets but the fundamental materials are damn cheap in comparison to other hobbies.

Talking of gadgets, I process drawings with an average scanner (Epson SX515W all-in-one printer) and do some clean up in Adobe Photoshop CS6 (e.g. rotating images, cropping) on a PC with a recently purchased 30″ Dell U3011 display. I’ve also started prepping reference material with my Nikon D7000 camera (or iPhone 4S), Photoshop and Illustrator. However, that’s all icing on the cake. The fundamental act of putting pencil to paper is inexpensive.

So, what have I been doing with this equipment since the last post? My last few sketches of the weekend were exercises from the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain book.

First up is Pure Contour Drawing where you focus really hard on a contour and draw it without looking at what you’re drawing hand is doing.


The idea is to concentrate on the contour and keep the hand in synch with what you see. This is another method of boring the L-mode brain so that the R-mode can dominate.

The next task was Modified Contour Drawing using a view finder and picture plane to draw my hand in a foreshortened pose. I really didn’t want to do the exercise as written so I tried to argue that I didn’t need to do the task at all. The evidence? A quick (probably L-mode 😦 ) sketch of my foreshortened hand without any drawing aids.

It wasn’t a convincing argument.

Eventually I realised I could simplify the method by working from a photograph of my hand i.e. a snapshot of the picture plane. This would allow me to make the drawing grayscale, accentuate features as best I could using Photoshop filters and draw the view finder’s lines on the photograph before printing and drawing it.

Here’s the result.

The instruction asked you to spend 90% of your time looking at the contours through the picture plane, letting the drawing hand do its thing with minimal guidance. However, whenever I looked at the drawing hand’s progress, I was dismayed to find lines that were way off course.

In the end I ignored the “don’t look” rule and looked at the pencil marks as much as I wanted. My drawing speed trebled at this point as though shackles had been lifted from my wrist.

If I’m honest, I think L-mode won through here to some degree although the result shows signs of careful observation. Will try harder next time.

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