Experimenting with Picture Formats #1

After the last few drawing exercises I took some time off to regain confidence and read some more of the drawing book. I am now tucking into Chapter 7 which explores negative space and the idea of a base unit of measurement to maintain perspective.

Chapter 7 also introduces the notion of composition: how best to arrange everything to achieve an interesting visual relationship between the postive space occupied by the subjects and the negative space between the subjects and the picture boundary i.e. the edges of the picture format.

Apparently, according to author Betty Edwards, when we’re very young, we generally draw well-composed scenes. By the time we reach our teens, we tend to focus on drawing individual things (e.g. cars) and lose interest in how those things sit in relation to other spaces on the page.

It occurred to me that a good way to practice the concepts of Chapter 7 would be to create drawings using non-square picture formats. It also occurred to me that fashion photography would be a good source of interesting reference images.

My first attempt is based on a photograph of Regina Feoktistova by Stockton Johnson. You can find the original here: http://www.caffeinenicotine.com/2012/07/27/olympic-warm-up/annaelle06/ .

Based on a photograph of Regina Feokistova

This may be the first drawing I’ve ever done that took more than one “sitting”. It took just over two hours in total and the hardest parts for me were:

  • Deciding where to start.
  • Picking a base unit.
  • Using the base unit [and to be honest, I rarely succeeded. Most measured ended up guesswork].
  • The face, especially the eyes, nose and ear
  • Correcting proportional issues.

I found the first 15 minutes of this drawing incredibly perplexing. As more elements settled into good positions on the page I began to relax.

The initial intention was to start with the face but there were more elements in the bottom half of the picture to help establish proportional relationships so I built the picture from bottom up.

Work in progress

On reflection this was an extremely enjoyable exercise once the foundations were in place. Looking forward to the next one.


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