Tag Archives: gesture drawing

Exploring Nature In Your Own Neighborhood

Are you all ready with a sketchbook

and some nature guides so you can explore nature this summer?  Your own neighborhood is a good place to start!

While we waited for you to get ready  Molly and I walked around our own very ordinary neighborhood and used our five senses to appreciate God’s beauty all around us. We took lots of pictures with my cell phone. Here are a few of those.

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 Here Molly is using her sense of smell on these flowers, while I enjoy the smell of new-mown grass. Don’t miss that God has put the complementary colors violet and yellow right next to each other.

       I picked a dandelion so I could rub its golden yellow onto my hands. Then I blew the seeds of another to dance away on the wind.

We looked up and saw a messy nest with red strands woven in and listened to birds singing nearby.

 We bent down and saw flowers with bees and bumblebees looking for nectar. (We didn’t get too close!)

And delicate wildflowers growing just along the sidewalk!

 We looked and looked some more at the intricate patterns of weeds and

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 peered down this hole but decided to leave its homeowner in peace.

On really hot days we waited until evening to walk so we could feel soft, cool breezes on our faces and enjoy colorful sunsets.

Sometimes we couldn’t get close enough to take a picture.  One day we saw a goldfinch perched on a thistle. Each time it pulled a seed out, bits of thistledown blew away.

Other times things moved too fast for a picture. We watched two trails of ants meet on a sidewalk. They bumped and seemed to exchange greetings, but then hurried on their way.

At those times put the phone or camera away and pause to look and listen as carefully as you can. It takes time to be a good observer.

Before you head out to take pictures or draw, here are some safety tips:

  1. Be sure an adult has approved where you are going
  2. Take along water and use sunscreen
  3. Don’t wade into any water unless an adult is with you and approves
  4. don’t pick flowers from anyone’s yard
  5. Leave wild animals alone for your safety and theirs
  6. Unless an adult is with you, don’t touch or pick wild plants. Some are poisonous

Using Art

Now grab your sketchbook and choose some of these ideas to record your observations:

  • Print out your favorite pictures and tape them in your sketchbook.
  • Arrange them in your book by categories such as trees, insects, flowers,
  • Or arrange plants and creatures with a photo of their habitat
  • Make drawings from your photos or from your nature guides
  • If you can sit and observe a flower, etc. draw it directly into the sketchbook
  • Use crayons, colored pencils etc. to add color to your drawings (If your sketchbook pages are thin, avoid marker and paint)

Using a close up of this wildflower, here are 2 drawing techniques that will help you look and draw accurately.

Gesture drawing, which I showed you in a post about A Young Girl Reading can be a  helpful way to start with nature drawing. It helps you look carefully at the overall object and its way of growing or moving. Here are some examples:

 

 

 Contour drawing on the other hand, helps artist look carefully at details. Like gesture drawing, it’s not meant to be a finished artwork, but to help you look more carefully at your subject. Here are some contour drawings of the same flower.  Look how different these look from gesture drawings.

 

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You slow way down for contour drawing. Your eye follows every small detail, and your pencil tries to follow along on your paper. You don’t sketch as in gesture drawing, but move your pencil along as if it is a snail inching along every line. You should spend lots more time looking at the subject than at your paper!

Have fun observing in your neighborhood and arranging photos and making drawings in your sketchbook!

In my next post I’ll give you some ideas for writing about what you see. You can do that right in your sketchbook, so leave some white space around photos and drawings and some blank pages after things you’d like to write about AND be sure and sign up to receive the Picture Lady posts in your inbox!!

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I finally got the children’s book about Maria Sibylla Merian from the library, and it’s really informative about her life and work, and has lots of pictures!20180712_095316

And here’s a great nature guide for children, I was impressed with all its information on animals, insects, birds, wildflowers, trees, etc. , including where to find them.20180712_095400

But I thought, it was way too heavy to carry around. Now thanks to a post by Jean Hall who reviews children’s books on her blog, I’ve discovered that the original chapters are available as separate, more portable, books. Here’s one she reviewed.

https://jeanmatthewhall.com/2018/07/06/picture-book-review-seashells-crabs-and-sea-stars/

Recently I heard about another woman naturalist who battled many obstacles to lead an amazing life and start a stationery business using her linoleum block prints of nature.   Nature’s Friend, The Gwen Frostic Story by Lindsey McDivitt.  Another children’s book, it’s due out this month.

Please comment and let me know what sort of plants and creatures you see in your neighborhood!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gesture Drawing, based on Jean Honore Fragonard’s painting, A Young Girl Reading

Drawing Helps us Look More Carefully

Project 3. Gesture Drawing 

A Young Girl Reading wikimedia commons

   Remember the girl’s pinkie finger? It’s perfect for a gesture drawing, one method artists use  to learn how to look carefully at things. It’s a sketch, done in just a minute or two, that ignores details. The artist tries to capture the gesture of a hand, a whole body, or even inanimate objects like pillows and teapots!

  Gesture drawings are pretty scribbly; artists don’t stop to erase unwanted lines—they just keep drawing over old lines until they get the gesture right.

  Activity

Try some gesture drawings of your hand in different poses. Challenge someone to copy your gesture. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.

You don’t need special equipment--sketchpads are nice (they’re good if you want to hold on to drawings) but not necessary. Any paper works just fine.

Drawing pencils are helpful, as well as an artist’s kneaded eraser (these erase the graphite without taking away as much paper surface) but also not necessary. In fact for gesture, I prefer crayons because it makes me work larger and I’m not tempted to erase but just keep going!!

Here I am trying to curve my pinkie in the way the girl in the painting does. First I found it almost impossible to curl it like that (I think Fragonard exaggerated a little!) and then I had trouble getting the gesture right…as you can see! Also see how I keep refining my lines to get closer to the gesture.

Here’s another gesture where I got a little closer, but still no details and lots of lines that come closer and closer to the gesture.

 

Try drawing a teapot. A pillow.

Here are two very differently-shaped teapots (the tall one was my great grandmother’s and actually for cocoa!) As you can see, I’m still using my crayon and refining lines as I go–no erasing. As I look at the spout on the short pot, I see it needs to be longer.

As I worked on the tall pot, I saw that the handle was very rectangular at the top and rose above the lid, which I hadn’t drawn that way at first.

Now a pillow!

At first I thought this pillow had no “character” and would be easy to draw, but the more I looked, the more I saw and this gesture drawing proved to be one of the harder ones!

And last but not least here’s my dog Molly, who keeps me company whenever I’m working (well, at least when she’s not racing to the window to bark at something!) She’s going to show you how helpful gesture drawings can be  to make your final drawings more accurate!!20170727_201131

Molly is a corgi and do you see how on the first gesture drawing (the one on the bottom left) I didn’t show how long she is? I noticed it right away and on the second, gave her a little more length!! Still not enough, but I’ve learned something important about her if I go on to a more detailed drawing. I also saw that I needed to make her nose shorter and her legs stubbier!

That’s what’s so great about starting with a quick sketch or gesture of your subject–it helps you look more carefully at what you’re drawing and as you keep refining your lines, you see more accurately for if or when you do a more detailed drawing.

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Project 4. How Lines Affect a Painting’s Mood

Here’s another project about lines

Remember that horizontal line in A Young Girl Reading? Here’s why it’s there: Lines have power to affect mood in a painting. Horizontal and vertical lines are quiet lines, increasing the peace and stability of a composition. Diagonal and curved lines are active and add excitement.

  Activity

   Compare A Young Girl Reading to The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/paolo-uccello-the-battle-of-san-romano to see the difference line can make to the mood of a painting. See how many diagonal lines you can find in The Battle of San Romano! 

     Can you make the mood of one of your own pictures change from exciting to peaceful by changing the type of lines you use?

 

 

I hope you’ll have fun and let me know in the comments how you enjoyed these projects

In my next post, I’ll have some thinking and writing activities to go along with A Young Girl Reading. It’s so amazing to me how much we can think about and learn from great art!!   Sooo….Be sure and sign up to receive these posts by email.

 And don’t forget to visit my new website to see the art workshops and other types of presentations I’m available to do! See the details at:      www.kathy-oneill.com