I know we understand each other. It means I can talk freely about my online class addiction. Phew. So this month, I took another class with Miriam from the Inspiration Place. It was called 'Farm Animal Spirits'. I'm not sure I really got what Miriam meant by this initially. I was more than happy to just start painting cute little farm animal babies... like these adorable little balls of fluff
This month I am drawing value studies in pen. I have chosen yoga poses as my subject because I love drawing figures and I am a something of a new convert to yoga.
I took a course with the lovely Julie Johnson over at the Jeanne Oliver Creative Network (a place of many lovely art classes, if you are looking...). This course is entitled Scribble Art, and was a marvellously fun way to study and practice the all important values. Here is the first one I did, Tree Pose.
I loved using loose and messy scribble to bring form to this figure in a pose that is known for bringing stillness. Rather apt, it seemed. We take our messy, scribbly jumble of thoughts and emotions into yoga class, and hopefully leave with a little more stillness and calm.
The second pose I tried was Warrior III. Somehow I couldn't help but add a little bit of coloured pencil. I had originally thought that I would leave these black and white - just pen and paper. But the muse suggested some subtle colour. Who am I to refuse?
The third pose I tried is Upward Dog, shown at the very top of this post. My favourite so far.
One of my endless fascinations is the illusion of depth on a flat piece of paper. Being able to perceive distance in an image on a page is what draws us into the world of the image's creator.
My analytical side is intrigued by the techniques we can learn to create the illusion of three dimensions. Ok, I have to admit I kind of love that even something as mystical as art boils down to maths in places.
The fact that drawing perspective does involve a step towards maths is probably what puts many of us off learning. I think the trick is to sidle up to it... surreptitiously. Ease gently in, nothing too scary. My introduction was really in Danielle Donaldson's class Creative Girls - a good beginning!
If you are starting out with drawing perspective, here are three things to think about that will help to offer the illusion of depth and distance.
This is a safe place to begin - all about colour. Warm colours (red, orange, yellow) appear to push forward from the paper, while cool colours (blues and greens) recede into the paper. How fascinating it is that this is the way the brain interprets these colours. So one of the easiest ways to suggest a sense of distance is to graduate colours you use from warm ones in the sections of the image closest through to cooler ones in the sections of the image intended to appear further away. Just like my row of little flower ladies...
The other thing that the brain does in interpreting information from the eye is to recognise smaller versions of similar items as being further away, relative to their larger counterparts. So even though all my little flower ladies are about the same size, the ones intended to appear close to the viewer are larger and further apart from each other. Their size and spacing diminish gradually to suggest to the viewer that they are more distant. If you were to draw a line across the tops of the heads of the flowers and extend it out beyond the tiny blue flower and another similar line across the bottom of their stalks, these lines would intersect at one point out beyond the right hand side of the image. Accordingly, this is referred to as one point perspective.
As amazing as our eyes are, we can only see the finest details close up. As we look further into the distance our ability to perceive small distinct details decreases. On a piece of paper, we can mimic this by reducing the level of fine detail progressively from the parts of the image intended to look like they are nearest to us to the parts of the image that are intended to appear further away. Compare the level of facial details on the little red flower at the front of the row to the blue one at the end of the row in Flower Faces no 18 to see what I mean.
Learning to solve puzzles like how to make a flat piece of paper seem three dimensional is an intriguing pastime. If you end up hooked like me then you will be wanting to know a bit more. I am reading a terrific book by Phil Metzger called The Art of Perspective which I am finding to be very helpful. It is not a dry collection of rules and is more like a series of annotated pictures. Phil has a sense of humour and offers step by step instructions of things to try out. Give it a go!
Today, I had the urge to add doodles to the petals of my flower face. And one should never resist the urge to doodle.
I have been a doodling fan for quite some considerable time. I stumbled upon Zentangle very early on in my creative journey. I was drawn to it as a less intimidating form of artistic expression. Life drawing, perspective, proportions, value scales.... these are all pretty intimidating to a beginner. But lines and dots and repeated patterns? Everyone can have a go at that. Little did I realise how soothing it was. I concluded that it was like meditation for people who struggle to meditate.
Aside from Zentangle, I often feel drawn to including doodle patterns in my journal pages. (If you want to have a go at this you could hop over to Joanne Sharpe's website and take one of her doodle classes - she is a lot of fun and so are her classes.)
I realise I was originally prey to the invisible indoctrination of the 'doodling is the antithesis of intellectual thought movement'. Not for serious people.
It turns out that science came to the fore a few years ago and proved this to be false*. Doodling actually has been shown to enhance memory function, and stimulate creativity. Although we generally tend to believe that doodling signifies a loss of attention or concentration, it is in fact a preemptive measure that engages the brain and prevents it from losing focus.
In her terrific TED talk, Sunni Brown explains that we take in information in 4 ways:
In order for deep learning and engagement with this information, two of these forms must be simultaneously present, or one form plus an emotional experience. Doodling combines all four forms and the possibility of an emotional experience.
Well, I don't need any more convincing than that. But I have just added another book to my reading list. Sunni Brown's Doodle Revolution. I will tell you all about it in due course... Have you already read it? What did you think?
*Andrade, J. (2010). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24: 100–106. doi: 10.1002/acp.1561.
Explore the rest of the Flower Faces Series.