Monday, October 01, 2007

Drawing Olympics

Finally, the first proper day as an illustration student - and what a blast! (despite the rain...). We were told last week to meet in the morning at the bottom of Cabot Tower on Monday. I hadn't quite appreciated how much of a climb this was going to be. Huffing and puffing up the hill in the rain I realised how unfit I had become. Fortunately I was not the only wet and confused person there.

Once we'd all collected and the tutor had turned up and done the school-masterly 'taking-of-attendance', we started on our "Drawing Olympics" - basically we spent the day wondering around Bristol city drawing (yes, IN the rain), doing a series of exercises. I've scanned in some of my better pieces, and I'll try and explain each of the exercises as I go along ...

1. We're at Cabot tower, so we're asked to spread ourselves around it and draw what we see - anything, wholething, detail, whatever we chose really. We do this 3 times (5 minutes or so each time), moving around the tower so we're facing a different face each time.
My first drawing is a detail of a bit of column and some tiles. I'm using an ink pen so everything smudges in the rain. I'm not the only one! Some people make better use of this smudging effect than others ;)
My second drawing is of what I can see from the tower rather than the tower itself. I've moved on to a non-smudging biro.
My third involves leaning up against a wall and looking up to draw the bottom of a curved window on the tower. Very stupid thing to do (looking up that is) when it is raining! Fun nontheless ...

2. We move on from Cabot Tower and head down to the Bristol City Museum - finally out of the rain! First stop is to the paleontological section where we sit ourselves down next to our favourite extinct creature and have 20 minutes to draw the fossil without taking our pen off the paper. Continuous line drawing. Here's my Ichtyasaur (and foetus):

3. Next on to the more modern animals. We're asked to draw a roughly 2 inch by 2 inch square, and then focus on a cm square of animal and enlarge it to fit our box. Then we were asked to draw another box of the same size and try and fit the whole animal in it. I did this twice as I wasn't having much joy with the woodpecker due to lack of light.

4. We then moved back out into the rain :( and wondered down to the Bristol Council House. The council house has some sheltered areas, but they're still fairly wet and cold. Anyways, off we go with our next exercise which is to draw with our non-usual hand; for me my left. Strangely, I really enjoyed this - there was a sense of freedom with this exercise which makes me think I might try it again on my own. I decided to draw one of the lamppost-cum-flowerbasket holders dotted around the Council House.

5. Now we're asked to pair up. One person holds the drawing implement steady, while the other moves the paper around underneath it to try and draw their chosen view of the Council House (then swap half way). I drew one of the doors as it had some quite simple geometrical shapes. I must say this was one of the worst pictures of the day. Controlling the paper is not so much an issue, but the fact that you can't quite get the right pressure from the pen, and the person holding the pen is not a robot, so there's always a bit of give. I'd like to try this again with the pen being held by something quite a lot more rigid.

6. Next up something altogether more challenging: Still in our pairs, BOTH hold the pen and draw on one sheet of paper. So you've got to somehow negotiate who draws what when. I found my training as a partner dancer came in handy. I was quite good at just following but at the same time nudging things just enough so that I was happy with what was being drawn. Here's our drawing of the trees on College Green in front of the Council House.

7. After lunch we reconvene at Millennium Square. First off we're made to all line up looking out from under rain shade at the building opposite. We're then given 3 minutes to write down as many words as we can think of to describe what we see. Shapes, architectural details, textures, anything that describes the building opposite us. Then we're told to turn our backs to the building and draw it from memory using as many of those words that we'd used to describe it. This was a challenge for me as I'm very much an 'observational drawer', as in I need to see what I'm drawing. The words helped me remember where windows went and the fact that one of the doors was locked up with a chain and padlock, but my drawing looked very much like something done by a 5 year-old!

8. Off to another corner of the square where we all settle down to draw another piece of scenery with buildings - this time though, we have to draw it upside down! Most people just about manage mirror images - but with my training in crystallography, I attempted a proper 'upside down', ie things at the bottom right were appearing on the top left. Mighty difficult, but incredibly rewarding. This is my drawing turned upside down (so the building is now right side up).

9. For our last exercise, we are again in pairs. We're still looking at the same scene as in exercise 8, but we're all just drawing the verticals. We have to draw as many of them as possible that will give our partner as much information as possible, as after we're done, we swap drawings and each partner puts in all the horizontals, curves etc to finish the other's drawing. I actually really liked my drawing with all the horizontals - wish I'd taken a picture before I passed it on. I must say I didn't understand my partner's information as well as she did mine - but that just means I gave her better info to deal with!

And that was the end of a very wet and cold but very entertaining drawing day ...

Tomorrow, the Painting Olympics (please let the sun be out!)


Tiara said...

You should put up the scans of the "bad" ones, I bet they're just as good! Geez, you can even draw with your left hand :P

btw I got the Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain workbook. Should start on it now :P

Darion said...

This is so much fun to read, oh i wish i could go to art school. Your drawings look really great! Hope the painting olympics is just as fun and inspiring. Keep having fun :)

Camilla said...

I was wandering around that part of Bristol in the rain yesterday- I hope you have more luck with the weather today!

Maggie said...

So glad to get your latest news - your drawings are great. I agree with tiara, I bet your rejects are really good too. :-)

We've borrowed Helen and David's lovely cat for a week while they're on holiday. Should be trying to draw him not reading blogs! ;-)

Best wishes from grey but brightish Liverpool

deb said...

wow! i love these drawing exercises - my favourites are the continuou line and left-hand drawings.
they are so fun to do.

ksklein said...

great exercises!

andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

lovely lovely drawings.