Thursday, December 04, 2008
Faces at the Forbidden City
Travel sketches have been very much on my mind for a number of reasons. After meeting and listening to Jean Pierre Montmasson (written about on my other blog, here), seeing his tiny sketchbooks and thinking about his advice that there are 'no rules', I've been focusing on what it is that inspires me and the way I like to express myself. I interpret 'no rules' to mean I'm free to do whatever pleases me, not what is expected of me, not what is in fashion and not what may or may not be 'cool' - which appears to me to carry quite a few (unspoken) rules.
Another very inspiring moment was discovering a video by one of my favourite artists, Reno Marca, talking about his new book and in it he is seen drawing from his computer. I've long suspected that many of my favourite illustrated travel books are done by artists using photos. It's clear, to me, that some are done on location and some from photos although this is never mentioned in the books. I don't see anything wrong with this, on the contrary, I find it very inspiring as it means these artists are not gods, what they do is within my capabilities too! Seeing Reno Marca drawing from his computer was the spark I needed to get me going again, as I felt slightly guilty about drawing from my photos of China. But chatting to Jean-Pierre about his many trips, it's obvious that to draw on location you need plenty of time and you need to go on a trip either specifically for that purpose or to have time scheduled in. On my trip to China, the tour didn't stop moving from the moment the plane landed - I think even seasoned sketchers would have found it nearly impossible most days.
Last but by no means least, I've been inspired by the new sketch blog Urban Sketchers. Inspiring moments come occasionally but with Urban Sketchers it's updated so often its like having inspiration fed intravenously! When it first started I wondered how on earth I was going to keep up with all the posts, but now I find myself checking for the latest installment - it's completely addictive! And very interesting how many sketchers are architects - I wonder why that is? With everyone's style being so different, it's clear there are no rules to sketching in public either. I think seeing these daily sketchers just getting out there and doing it will gradually this will help me get over my own reluctance to draw in public - something I'm constantly working on.
So, back to the sketch and back to what inspires me the most - faces (profiles at the moment!)and specifically the uniqueness of each and the variations in value, colour and texture of skin. I especially love to do areas of skin that have no outlines, necks, cheeks etc. There are plenty of lines in the forehead of the face on the right but what caught my eye was the coldness in the look of the man on the left. What was it that made it so cold, and could I capture that? I had fun playing with the colours and there is a lot of Lyra's Warm Slate Grey' in both faces but I tried to make the warmth of the skin glow underneath it, especially in the face on the left to bring it closer - and perhaps in contrast to that cold stare!