Thursday, February 11, 2010

Working From Life

I think it is important (for me at least) to draw, sketch and paint from life whenever possible. There is something about translating a subject from 3-D to 2-D that engages the brain and develops eye hand coordination better than working from a photo, where I am just going from one 2-D image to another 2-D image.

One of my goals as an artist is to work from life whenever I can, but when I have to use photo reference, I want to make the sketch look like it was painted from life.

I have no idea how to technically do this, other than to say that I do it all the time. My sketchbooks are filled with real images: 3-D images captured from real life. In fact, that was one of my rules: if it was in my sketchbook, I had to actually be looking at it - no working from photos. Consequently, the majority of my entries are quite commonplace: my art supplies; my lunch; the dashboard of my car while stopped in rush hour; my seat on an airplane. . . all very ordinary. And yet, as I document these things, I am practicing my skills as a draughtsman and developing my ability to see and capture the 3-D and express it in 2.

This experience of producing thousands of life sketches has the ultimate result of giving me confidence when working with photos, being able to make them say what I want them to say, and make it look like I was actually there.

Remember, you don't have to wait to go to the Grand Canyon to be inspired to work from life. Do it today. Set up a still life with the stuff on your studio table or ask your cat to pose for you.

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