Friday, November 30, 2012

Burrito



 In my subject's defense, his proportions are highly exaggerated, though I was kind to the burrito.  I witnessed this in the Wilk today.  I'm not sure what this guy's major was, but I'll venture to say sword swallowing; most units of measure have a fixed standard, but "bite-size" is a relative term.

Walt Stanchfield once said "let your sketchbook take preference over your camera."  At first it seems harder to capture a moment, an emotion, a character on paper than it is through a lens.  However, the point isn't necessarily to capture a likeness– it's to capture life.  Too many people treat a sketchbook like a curated exhibit.  It shouldn't be; if it is, you're losing most of the benefit.  Sketchbooks are for practice, to be sure, and they can contain nice drawings, but more importantly they are to stretch your imagination and capture life. Life isn't always likeness. Have you ever shown someone a photo of an experience and said "I wish you could have been there, the picture doesn't do it justice"? Now, technically the camera captured the scene with complete technical accuracy.  Due to the miracles of modern physics and chemistry, everything you pointed the camera at is represented with exactness.  What then is missing?  It's life, it's heart, it's emotion.  A good photographer will capture all of these things in an image– but not every time, and they will certainly not make every passerby stop to set up lights and have a 2 hour studio session.  No, they move in and through the experience, never stopping. They open their eyes wide and try to find the story in every moment.  A good photographer will snap hundreds of pictures in ravenous pursuit of the one that will immortalize the experience.  A good photograph isn't just for the eyes– you can hear, smell, and taste every element of the experience.   It's the same with drawing.  If you are seeking to capture life, it can't be done by mere likeness; there needs to be something more.  To catch it, you have to keep moving, and I mean moving. Too often I think we pick our subject based on who is sitting still long enough to draw.  That shouldn't be the deciding factor.  Try looking instead for where the life is, for which subject has the most interesting story.  Draw those people, even if your pen can't keep up with how fast they're moving.  The point isn't how pretty your sketchbook is anyway— it's whether you've caught a bit of life in your mind to breath into future characters.  At first these drawings will be nasty, as in pull-a-paper-bag-with-eyeholes-over-your-sketchbook-and-another-one-over-your-face-nasty.  This is a good thing.  It means you're stretching yourself.  And every so often, something nice will come out.  As you gain more experience, as your sketchbooks stack up, the number of nasty drawings between the good ones will shrink.  Best of all, your drawings will start, in some inexplicable way,  to come to life.   
     Remember, your job isn't to create an ink-jet likeness.  It's to "animate"– to bring to life. Sometimes you will want photographic accuracy, but often the most emotionally accurate drawing will be a caricature.

I've ranted long enough, but before I take off my "self-appointed-guru fez" I want to share one thing:
If you are at all serious about sketchbooking, buy this book.  The above link is a free preview on google book, which is a taste, but I would highly recommend getting the 2 volume set on Amazon. Best drawing book ever.

Ok, i need to sign out, my fiancee has confiscated my fez lol.  But no joking, get the book!  You will be happy you did.

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