Carrot and Stick

The stick was my admitting that I needed to get drawing again – once I’d said it publicly I felt compelled to get on with it, knowing I would feel guilty if I didn’t. The carrot is, well, the carrot. I’ve started to draw again and it feels good. Or maybe the carrot is the number of new coloured pencils I felt were necessary to treat myself to. Either way.

Drawing of a carrot

Carrot

There’s a quote attributed to Jim Davis, but I’m not sure if it came directly from his mouth or via that of his creation, Garfield: ‘vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie’. I like it.

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Monarch of the Glen – Getting Inspired to Draw Again

‘Writer’s block’, a ‘dry spell’, ‘a creative slowdown’…..there’s multiple ways to describe periods spent unable or unwilling to write. But what’s the equivalent for drawing and illustration? ‘Creative block’ I suppose. There are so many distractions around and subjects calling for our attention that it’s easy to neglect those very things that nourish us.

I’ve been circling (ugh, no pun intended) around drawing for a while now. And feeling terribly guilty for not getting stuck into it. Not sure why, since I enjoy it so much once I get going. Probably because I also know it’s good for my psyche to do it. It’s like eating well, you know it’s good for you, it makes you feel much better for it, so when you go off the rails too much (I’m looking at you milk chocolate) you feel sheepishly guilty for letting yourself down.

It was a good kick in the pants then when I stumbled on an article on the BBC about Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen (a bit of a dispute about where he painted the iconic masterpiece). It reminded me of something I drew years ago in school during one of our weekly art classes, just practicing with a pencil. My mum found it stuffed in my art folder back home, the paper a bit creased, and sent along a photo of it. Reminds me of how I used to draw without thinking too much about it too much, not worrying if it was ‘perfect’ or not. I love that sense of looseness and freedom when you care about creating something but not so much that it stifles you. What you end up with might be a bit rough, but no less satisfying for it.

drawing of Monarch of the Glen

Monarch of the Glen

Time to pick up those pencils again…..

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A Little Bit of Spruce

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For the first time in many Sundays, no commitments. It’s snowing again and unusually I’m very happy to be inside in the warmth with a cup of herbal tea at hand – and an embarrassing amount of coloured pencils. I’m not sure if I just drew a spruce, pine or fir branch, I’m think it’s a spruce!

Autumn Goodness

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It feels good to fly a little free and figure out the colours needed for a drawing, like this one of an autumn leaf, rather than copy faithfully from a book. The latter is a great way to learn and I’ll refer to those same books for suggestions when I get stumped, but the training wheels had to come off at some point (as they did with the plum).

The clocks have recently gone back and I never quite know how to feel about this, waking up is a little easier with more light, rather than burrowing back down into the duvet whilst the darkness lingers. But then it gets darker in the evening so much sooner, which is not really appealing to me. Perhaps though the autumn/winter seasons are some of the potentially most creative times? The energy is more withdrawn, less exuberantly outward, which can feel like a kind of loss at first, but if you can channel that saved energy it might actually be replenishing. With less time to be outside there’s more time to rest, to draw, cook, read, learn more about photography, to write…. (I’m just talking about what I enjoy, insert your own particular interests and hobbies).

Speaking of comfort food (we were weren’t we?!), I tried making a pumpkin pie, which I haven’t done for a few years. I used the same pastry recipe as I did for a fruit pie – once again omitting added salt as I used salted butter – and my own recipe for the pumpkin filling, which is as follows:

1 14oz (or 400mls) can of organic pumpkin

I cup of soy milk

2 eggs

1/4 – 1/2 cup of maple syrup

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix all together, pour into a nine inch pie dish lined with the pastry, cook at approx 350f for about 45-50mins or until the pumpkin is set. Voila! Delish with added whipped cream.

pumpkin-pie

“It was one of those days you sometimes get latish in the autumn when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins.” P.G.Wodehouse.

Enjoy the rest of the autumn!

Iris

The weather has made it so enticing to be outside at any opportunity that I realize I’ve neglected drawing, in fact to such a degree that I feel I’ve forgotten how to draw at all. So once again it was back to the beginning. Attempting to create a three-dimensional tulip was so disappointing (and frankly terrible) that I scrapped it and reverted to Ann Swann’s Botanical Portraits to try to figure out how to create shading on a more delicate flower, in this case an iris. I’d tried to shade with a graphite pencil, which wasn’t working for flower petals……but use a few Faber Castell warm greys and a better tone comes through the colours layered on top…..ever onward!

 

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Leafy Greens

Once again I reverted to the inimitable Ann Swan and her lovely book Botanical Portraits, this time to work on drawing and shading an ivy leaf that she describes in fair detail from beginning to end. It’s just an excuse to bust out the greens in the coloured pencil range, but long term it is to hopefully improve my drawing and to one day produce something that approximates the choice of subject, whether it be flowers, trees, fruit etc. and that exhibits my own style, whatever that may be.

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Starting out……

 

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Adding in a little more colour and shading…..

 

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Finished picture

 

 

Back To The Drawing Board…..

Practice, well, doesn’t make perfect. But it’s time to get back to drawing as summer starts to wind down (how is that possible, the eternal refrain of every year, although this year it does seem to be a endless summer as the dry spell shows no sign of abating and forest fires continue to rage).

Once again, learning the use of colour as I copy from Botanical Portraits by Ann Swan.

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And on a quiet week-end an attempt to draw a pepper. I sketched in the highlighted areas and unfortunately the pencil marks showed through, but that in itself is a great learning experience.

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Colour Blindness

Rather than copy illustrations from a book, albeit a great way to learn some basic techniques, I’m going to commit to drawing from life, except for when going back to revise and learn some fundamentals. It’s challenging and frustrating, a picture of a tomato went in the garbage, couldn’t stand to look at the fiendish thing anymore. A drawing of a shallot is safe, for now. It’s more an approximation, the colours are insanely annoying to figure out. I have so many pencils now and yet they don’t seem to be the right ones, or I’m not using them and layering them correctly. Anyhoo, here it is for better or worse: