I love to continually learn, going where the uncomfortable edge is; this led me to say yes when asked to join a small group of artist from around the world who were willing to try teaching each other and seeing where it took us. Jorge Royan (both of JR Sketches and Jorge Royan Photography) was our fearless leader in the first stages, and he started the teaching series by having us work on composition.
I thought I knew a lot about composition; turns out that I knew a little, and learned a tremendous amount. I shot the image, left, and from there began to draw and then add watercolor. I made a mistake when painting, and screwed up the image altogether (I left out a leg.) But I liked my watercolor usage, and that was a positive for me.
Jorge turned it grey, so I could see that the entire image had similar values, which translates into a flat painting. There was no narrative to my image, no story being told, because I had not directed the visitor’s eye to what was important.
Another artist, Marie Flood, took the liberty of greying some areas to show what the narrative might be if I made the choice as to what the viewer noticed. This also taught me a lot about controlling the narrative.
While listening to the discussions, I sketched. I looked at images I had already taken and cropped my own. I began to see what they meant. This is not the best example, but you can see that the vase is important.
We spent a couple of weeks cropping images. One of the images that caught my eye was by Ellen Darby (of Baby Bulldog). It is a lovely photograph of the Baltimore waterfront. Crop, crop and crop some more! It may seem tedious, but look at how the image changes as it is cropped!
From there we sketched the next week. I chose the waterfront image, as did Robert Dodd.
I started with a simple line sketch in ink, and then added watercolor. I had two goals in choosing this sketch:
- I wanted to draw buildings without looking like an architect drawing buildings, so balancing that line between detail and freedom (I am showing you one of my old line drawings for those who do not know what i mean),
- I continue to practice watercolor, this time, reflections.
Robert Dodd’s final version is below mine. Having never taken art classes, I found it fascinating to see what another artist would do with the same exact photograph to work from!
The beauty of the class is that we can ask the other artists how they did this or that. In my case, I wanted to learn about how to do reflections. I was fairly happy with my watery reflections, but liked the depth of color on Robert’s.
Also, the ability to see both the subject that another artist was working from — in other words, their available visual perception — versus how I might have painted the same subject, is invaluable to me. Even with out attempting the drawing I am learning. Fahmi Kahn (Sketchbook Magic) chose another of Robert’s images below, and it was one I was drawn to but chose not to sketch, as I had no way to approach it. The liberties she took in her cropping were a great lesson, especially as I loved the curve of the tire and the pop of color!
Below, another of Robert’s images, and her rendition of it. In this one, I also attempted the sketch. My goal was to work the entire image without sketching — a huge leap for me. I simply laid on colors as Robert suggested, allowing them to dry in between. I am not completely satisfied with the results, but enjoyed the process. It helps to continue to look at the image, not assume that it looks a certain way.
I find that anytime I stretch, even if I hate the result, if I learn something it was worth it. I am so happy to have done a piece with NO sketching underneath! YAY!
There are other artists, each offering so much. I will post again in a month to show the next level of progression — and include them too! Thanks to Fahmi and Ellen and Robert for letting me show their images!
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