Sunday, June 08, 2008
Chinese dog (and inspiration)
I've nicknamed him 'the little emperor' as he looks quite full of his own importance! Initially it was that full mane that I wanted to capture but on closer inspection I discovered a lot of subtle colours in his coat. I would describe the colour of it as taupe - it looks cooler, more of a grey in the scan -and this is difficult to find in a colour pencil but 'Nougat' in the Polychromos was quite close. I'm getting used to the relative softness of the colour pencils (compared to graphite which I'm used to) and have warmed more to the Polychromos and Albrecht Durers now along with the Cretacolors. The main colour used was Albrecht Durer Warm Grey V for the mane. It had no other hint of colour but I added a little Mauve to the shadows to see how it would look. Around the nose and eyes are some lovely, unusual shades of red, brown and dusty pink. There is lots of yellow in the paws and tail and a little on the back so I thought the cool mauve in the mane would make a nice contrast to the warmth in the rest of the body - although I got the feeling it could look like an over-enthusiastic use of PhotoShop if I went too far! He was actually sitting on a red mat and it made him look even more stately but I went for black so as not to overpower the subtle colours. I was aiming for something a little less stylised in the mane but it still ended up looking similar to another dog's coat I've drawn here.
I think I may have pushed the boundaries here of what is expected of a travel sketch as this is obviously a drawing rather than a sketch but I've been very inspired by the work of François Dermaut . I saw Carnets d'une Longue Marche last year (written by Bernard Ollivier, illustrations by Dermaut) brought in by another student during one of my watercolour lessons and was immediately struck by his work. (In Googling I came across a glowing review (of another of his books) by Miles Kingston that makes interesting reading and compares him to artists like Ronald Searle for his ability to use different styles).
Although the illustrations are supposed to be from a two month journey, I can't help but feel that many are drawn from photos, especially the portraits of laughing faces. On this page, in my photo, is a very complex drawing of a temple roof.
That is more of a finished drawing than a travel sketch I would say - so this and other drawings in the book freed my mind of what a travel sketchbook 'should' contain. I was especially aiming for something of that look when I drew the opera singers, above. While I build up skin tones with reds and yellows, I think that more immediate, spontaneous look is a result of using fewer but darker colours - instead of building up values in layers like I do, I think he uses one or two colours with that value. There is a sense of energy in his drawings, and I can see how he gets that effect, but I'm feeling comfortable in my own style now and I enjoy the slower way of building skin tones, so I admire it, am continually inspired by it but I won't be copying it. What I also love about the drawings is how they are realistic but can never be mistaken for a photograph which is something I always aim for with my work too.