Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm a Little Rusty

Okay, I admit it; I'm not nearly as skilled when I draw freehand as I am when I have a reference to refer to. That was brought home to me last night when I did a little sketching while watching TV. The horse started out as a Friesian head and neck study which grew to the whole body except that - OOPS - I ran out of paper. It definitely didn't match the expressive flowing image I had in my head. Or, maybe the image in my head wasn't formed enough to come out well on paper. You'll notice that it strongly resembles my painting, "Forever Friesian" for which I had good photo reference. I've been thinking of redoing this image with improvements and a landscape background, and this was supposed to be an exploratory sketch for that. Clearly, it needs to go back to the drawing board.

The other sketch is supposed to be a wolf, but it looks more like a wolf dog cross or a longhaired German Shepherd. As a former German Shepherd owner, I can definitely see the Shepherd influence in this animal's "breeding". I have a few wolf books and some wolf calendars and need to spend some time sketching from those images to get a better feel for the wolf form before I try to create a real drawing or painting.

Yes, I realize that there's the whole copyright infringement issue, but if I use these materials to study and learn from ONLY and don't claim the resulting images as my own or try to sell them, it's perfectly permissible. That's how artists have learned for centuries, in fact, by copying the masters who came before them. Any art I do from these materials will remain hidden in my studio for my eyes only.

When I was a kid, I sketched from my mind and rarely directly copied. At least that's the way I remember it. Maybe I did more copying than I remember, but I drew constantly and got pretty good for my age from all the practice and exploration. I have a box full of old art to prove it, too. Clearly, I need to do more of that again; either working from memory and imagination or by working from life. That's why one of my goals for this year is to fill a sketchbook by year's end.

My training in illustration in art school taught me to work from photos, and creating pet portraits certainly demanded that level of accuracy be attained. But in recent years I came to face the fact that I'd become too dependent on photos. It's time to break free and go back to sketching and creating just for the joy that it brings without any thought to "will it sell?" or "is it good?"

So, here for the world to see are my first rusty attempts at freehand sketching in quite some time. I hope you enjoy them for what they are; nothing more than practice sketches.

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