Continuing on with the technique I learned from Gwenn Seemel, I am still very uncomfortable and yet excited by it. I get lost in it. It allows me to SEE better –through my fingers attached to a pen — or to study what I am trying to draw, which is what I learned from Kimon Nicolaїdes (more on him below). It is not easy publishing pieces that are not my best work, that are sketches of me struggling . . . I do this because I learn so much from others who share edgy material, their raw sketches!
Kimon Nicolaїdes has this wonderful lifetime drawing course, The Natural Way to Draw, and I have been studying with him (through his book) for 40 years. He died in 1938, at the tragically young age of 57. His book was nearly complete, and finished by students. His book (a current cover shown right) has moved artists for many years, and inspired the books of other drawing teachers, like Betty Edwards. I don’t know if you could finish his lifetime of lessons. The crux of his teachings is that there are three types of drawing:
- gesture drawing, which is fast and catches what I think of as the essence of the object, stance, or movement;
- contour drawing, which taught me to look at what I was drawing and not at the paper, or, thinking of what it should look like versus seeing what was in front of me;
- and a toned drawing style that captures mass, shading, etc.
I used to tend to get frozen, the blank page, what if I made a mistake?! This was made worse if I had a great drawing going and then wanted to add color — what if I ruined the sketch? Nicolaїdes had a saying (paraphrasing) which stuck with me: “The sooner you make your first thousand mistakes the sooner you can correct them.” Nothing was so precious, and so, moving forward, I soon became a better artist!
Gwenn’s technique with colorful markers and the buildup allows me to play with gesture, then contour, and then tone all in one 10-15 minute colorful sketch!
Today I tackled a difficult frontal image of a Hawaiian crow taken by Donna Cooper of the Audubon Society. I had tried this crow, whose sad face captured me when I found her in searching for crow information on a series I may paint.
I failed miserably a while back trying to sketch him using pencils. Today I tried Gwenn’s technique, and despite several Darth Vader helmet-head crows, I finally began to SEE him clearly, and managed to create an acceptable likeness. I heard Gwenn saying, “Keep drawing!”
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Alala’s image was taken by Donna Cooper, who I cannot reference except in the blog post.
The image of Nicolaїdes and his family is from the Smithsonian.
Further images and even paintings of Nicolaїdes can be found: