Today I sketched the same object in two slightly different ways: first with a strong focus on using a grid and second with a dot-to-line contour approach.
I just finished the chapter on proportion in Eye of the Painter by Andrew Loomis and was inspired to make an adjustment to my viewfinder. I clipped my picture plane to the viewfinder and drew half- and quarter-lines directly on the picture plane. This let me break the objects down into smaller pieces, with the goal of getting the proportions and shapes more accurate. This definitely helped me block in the objects more quickly and I liked that part of it. I’m drawing this particular object because I’m working on ellipses, and today they were close but still a little wonky. Part of that might be the shading throwing it off. I also wish I’d erased the planning lines before shading because I find those distracting.
Last night at Crafthack I did some drawings of terriers I found on pixabay using the dot-to-line contour approach. I’ve played with this drawing technique before, and it was fresh on my mind because I’m watching Pat Weaver’s Pet Portraits class on Craftsy. Since I was happy with last night’s results, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it with this little cosmetic jar.
It was really cool to compare these two drawing techniques side by side! I was surprised by how much more I preferred the dot-to-line contour approach. There’s more life and personality to that sketch, plus it helped me focus on the shapes I saw (including areas of light and shadow) instead of naming parts (like “The lid stops here, the powder gets darker there”). One of my main hesitations with this contour approach has been figuring out where to start drawing so that the entire subject fits onto my drawing surface. Using the gridded viewfinder/picture plane really helped with this because I could get a visual snapshot of where things would fall on my paper.
My expectations are also at play here…with the first sketch, I was very carefully trying to get accurate placement of things by blocking them in and measuring with my pencil. So I put a lot of pressure on myself to make that one accurate. With the second, I wasn’t doing precise measuring and blocking in. I felt my way around the contours, pausing to check that things weren’t going horribly awry, but not really expecting “perfection”. I’d like to practice this more to see if it continues to feel good and gets me the results I’m looking for.