Warm-up your drawing hand inside and out! Sounds weird? Over the last few years I have started to feel the flexibility leave my nibble fingers. The result of 20 plus years of heavy carrying, pulling, lumbering and shovelling I donated to equine maintenance. Two years ago, I wrote this post Hot mugs and sketched circles in which I explain the benefits of holding a hot mug of water for as long as possible letting the heat penetrate as deeply as possible (outside warm-up) and how I then follow-up by scribbling in quick succession a series of mad circles swooping them in all directions (inside warm-up). Actually, the post gains a wee bit more depth and explains how Renoir battled with arthritis ... ( if you have a minute you really should have a read or re-read: it's still amazes me how he (Renoir) overcomes crippling pain to produce such beauty.) Today, I have added another step to my routine and that is to scrunch (10-20 times) a miniature rugby ball (gets the blood flowing nicely).
Tip #2 Warm up your hand, arm, shoulder, body before starting a drawing session. This really makes getting into a flow and finding a good rhythm that much easier. May sound mad but the result on paper has proved it to be well worth it!
The choice of paper is crucial to a successful drawing yet in it's importance (and choice) very overwhelming. All you need to do is start searching the internet to be confronted and snowed under by soooooo much information and choice.
Paper choice is very personal and something that has to be tried out, literally. Pencil (your pencil) has to make contact with the paper. No amount of reading what other artists like and use will guaranty your own success. Trial and error (sadly) are in this case your best friends. As a guide and to help you shed a little light on the question "what paper?" here are a few relevant points to watch out for:
- If you want a drawing with strong contrast, lots of spontaneity and are not too bothered about detail and realism then a "toothy" rough paper would suit you well. Strathmore Drawing paper is a nice quality toothy paper as is Fabriano Artistico .
- However, if your drawing style is more fine, detailed and sharp then a smooth "toothless" paper is the way to go. Papers such as Strathmore Bristol Vellum , Strathmore 500 series plate finish, Winsor & Newton's extra smooth Bristol Board , Strathmore 140lb cold press series, are recommended by many realist pencil artists. Personally, I use Mellotex which is very smooth, I love it's silky thickness and the way it holds fine lines, responds to layering and feels under my pencil. Note: the terminology plate finish refers to the absence of grain in the paper. Vellum also refers to the finish of the paper andsuggests quality. Vellum paper is very smooth and has very special soft feel.
- Always always make sure you choose a good quality art paper. All quality papers are acid free. This ensures your work of art does not turn yellow a few years down the line. I also like my paper to be thick (at least 250g), this way it can withstand much more handling (or in my case manhandling) without creasing or showing too many signs of wear.
- Determine which colour you like the best for your work. Each paper will be of a different white. I find that by putting a selection of different papers together you can really get a good idea about the variation in shades of white. As a rule of thumb : realism works well on a crisp white paper whereas a softer more flowing drawing is better suited to a warm-toned paper.
- Once you have found your paper, made the paper choice you know fits like a glove, make sure you stock up and have enough to last the waves of inspiration. Nothing is worse than running out of paper when you are under pressure from both your muse and dead-lines.
- Make sure you use a piece of paper larger than you need. This will insure extra room for spontaneity, miscalculation and a all over nice drawing experience. (I've had a few drawings falling of the edge the paper and it is the most infuriating thing.)
Take your time in choosing a paper. Make sure you like the feel, the look (ie colour), the quality and the way it responds to your drawing. Most art stores will allow you to sample papers, discover their qualities, before committing to buying. Use this opportunity to make your own personal choice, put a bunch of quality samples together, take them home and get scribbling!p.s: this is #1 in my series of Short Drawing Tips. Hope you've enjoyed it. Stay tuned for #2....
Grandad' Story, Pencil on Paper
Interested in finding out more about graphite art and my passion for pencils?
My studio blog "Black on Grey on White" is only ONE click away. (pssst: this is where all the insider info, works in progress and other interesting graphite art information is revealed!)
Look forward to welcoming you there.
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For once the rain was not the "one" keeping me indoors....
No, the day was glorious unusually bright and sunny. A real clichée of a spring day!
This, I am sure, is what brought on the urge, the incredible "not going to leave me alone" urge
to tidy-up, hoover, de-cluttered and refresh a studio still bogged down by the winter blues.
Don't run away yet, no cleaning, dusting or polishing technics will be discussed or detailed in this post: promise.
Allthought, I did get many household tools out and ended up using them
(hoover, duster, glass cleaner, polish, rubbish bag...) and feel quite up on the subject.
Actually, I'd much preffer to show you what I found in my "organised" mess.
Apart from feeling on top of things again
(amazing how vanishing clutter can do that!),chuffed to bits for having conquered the pain of organising and knowing that no projects, commissions and tasks
had been forgotten (found loads of ticked "to-do-lists"), I unearthed some little hidden sketches.
Recovered from the under my pile of "must file" are a few of my naive attempts at colour....
Interesting how instead of destroying them I buried them...
Nice to be able today to revive them and give them a little light.
Here for your viewing is one simply known as "Blue Skech".
p.s: Now the studio is done...the house really could benefit from a wee bit of freshning up.
Good thing the urge has still not left me alone!
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the feeling that your feet are never going to stop stamping out of
Read on: this is my way letting off a little steam.
I'm a Mum. I'm an artist.
Both are driven by the heart, demand loads of love, energy, understanding and devotion.
Are they compatible? Absolutely.
Are they rivals? Absolutely.
Both careers require time in bucket loads and are not 9 to 5 jobs. (Ironically, no matter how hard one tries 24 hours is the absolute max you can get out of 1 day!)
Both require huge amounts of flexibility (which eats up on the others time!) and both are rivals on the depletion of inner energy levels.
Who ends up winning?
Well at the moment my mother instinct has the upper hand (I am very glad to say!) so where does this leave my art?
Hiding under piles of work?
On hold until tomorrow?
Waiting for the children to grow up?
NO, no no! (thank goodness!)
Having to surrender, now and then, some of my art's needed time, flexibility and inner energy leaves me with a determination and drive, when I am working, that I have never given it before.
The determination to succeed and become the best artist I can, despite the unpredictability of motherhood, seems to be actually fueled and not hindered by this rivalry between being a Mum and an artist.
It really has made me so much more determined and wanting to tackle bigger challenges.
So, back up to the studio: Xmas orders are coming in fast and so is the common cold!
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What is art? The question is huge.
Will answering this help me be more creative?
Will having answered this challenge me, make me grow?
Will giving an answer help me sell my art?
Yes on all counts.
Why? Quite simply because an answer will demand thought and careful thought at that. This will ultimately lead to having a good look out of the box , more knowledge,a better understanding of a vast subject and an increase in confidence.
The great thing is that the answer just like the subject of art can be as subjective and personal as one likes.
Art, is something that comes straight from the heart.
It is something which comes alive without boundaries. Making it unlimited.
Art is something that takes your mind places, your heart places.
In my case it has been a steady discovery of myself, a wonderful way of facing fear and dealing with life. A reason for stepping up to reality.
Art is the reward for patience, deep emotion and gritty determination.
Art causes the viewer to react, to feel, to think.
It connects with the viewer and becomes something that you (the viewer) cannot take your eyes off.
Something that stays anchored in ones memory.
Great art stirs thought and something very deep within.
(Interestingly enough The Fine art studio Newsletter's issue # 105 guest author Keith Bond covers this point in his good article "Art is language".....this is when I like to think that great minds think alike!)
There is something so intangible that makes art special and really, at the end of the day, it boils down to what we like as individuals.
Have I come any closer to answering the question of what art is of what makes art art? Maybe not. One thing for sure is that I have been pondering about the answer for days now.
Tried to keep focusing on making some kind of sense of the ramifications the question has led to.
As I mentioned in the beginning , the nice thing is that there is no wrong answer and I feel as though have dotted my I' and crossed my T's...!
Back to the drawing board to let loose of some of that gritty determination...