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Old 01-24-2013, 01:35 PM
jstarn jstarn is offline
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Elements and Principles - LINE

12 months, 12 sketchbooks, 12 elements and Principles of Design.

As follows:

1. Line ( this is a very strange exploration, at the moment!)
2. Shape
3. Texture
4. Form
5. Unity
6. Point,Line and Plane
7. Balance
8. Hierarchy
9. Scale
10. Dominance
11. Similarity
12. Contrast



vhere pointed out in a previous thread that this is a very left-brained way of studying; that's absolutely right, and quite deliberate.

I've been mucking about with sketching since high school (over 10 years ago!), and tended toward mastering my tools rather than my grasp of drawing. (This seems to be fairly common- witness the multitudes of us who try millions of pigments and art materials one after the other and hoard them all like the precious treasure they are!)

I'm fairly compulsively a mixed media artist, with the side effect of being totally confident about creating effects that please me, blending colours that satisfy, etc. (This has has somehow created a style that I find distinct and ...well..my own. This is something, it seems, that lots of people struggle with, and I hightly recommend mucking about with every material you can get your hands on as a way to develop your own style...it becomes mandatory...you can't NOT use that shade of green, or draw the same subject nineteen times, or refrain from going back in and outlining things in a peculiar shade of purple).

....ANYway, I'm now at a point where my ideas have outstripped my technical skill to render them. So I'm putting myself through a refresher on the Elements and Principles of design as a way to make me sketch a lot.

All of which means that I've ripped up a whole bunch of sketchbooks that I already made (love binding sketchbooks...some people eat when they're stressed, I bind sketchbooks. I've given up trying to figure out why ) and rebound them into smaller, staple bound books (usually I use the method found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNccIFpHoWE with a few tweaks, but staples were quicker this time. The last two are threadbound with watercolour paper)

Most of the new sketchbooks have different paper (I also buy paper when stressed), because I like buying one sheet of various kinds of paper and trying it out. I didn't want to touch the two sketchbooks made with my favourite paper (Canson Ingres! Yummy!) so this is all mostly stuff I've never tried before. Some if it is from commercial books I've purchased and then cheerfully ripped up for my own ends . (I mention this for those who are squeamish about such things...there may well be book abuse in my threads! )

All the sketchbooks have approximately 30-ish spreads, sort of, to make up for the fact that some months are busier than others, and there is no rule that I have to sketch every day, because that is ludicrously impossible and I know it. But I do have to fill all the spreads every month, with an emphasis on exploring the Element or Principle listed, and more importantly, with an eye to using it deliberately instead of instinctively. And in addition to sharpening my technical skill and understanding of the basics, I want to lean more about why I, specifically, draw the way I do, in the hope that I can stop fumbling about and begin to identify what I am best at, and what gives me the most satisfaction to create.

Wow, that was long-winded I appreciate your patience!

So here is the series of sketchbooks! The January- LINE book is made of two colours of "Canson Drawing Parchment". The colours are "drawing white" and something I can't read on the faded label. Maybe natural whte?





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Old 01-24-2013, 01:58 PM
jstarn jstarn is offline
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Oh, my dear heavens, it has taken me almost four hours to figure out how to resize and upload photos! And it's all the fault of the Safari browser...I had to switch to Google Chrome. Sheesh! My admiration of all the rest of you uploading millions of photos has increased exponentially. (Bad safari! First time you have failed me!

...anyway, the original idea was that I'd divide each spread into four, and practice 5 minute sketches in each quarter. You can see from the first few pages how out of practice I am, and how ....well, ugly they looked! I'm all for mucking about messily, but I gave up on that idea after I started looking at the pages with distaste. NOT conducive to regular sketching!



On the second spread I'm already struggling with "Line" as an element. I started compulsively shading things, and itched to use ink and wash. I found myself repeatedly grabbing for my Ahab fountain pen, despite trying to play with the expressive line qualities of a brush marker, a Sharpie pen, and Derwent Drawing Pencils. Note the admonishment "Interpret, don't copy, less boring, more useful" scribbled beside the tree trunk.





This one's not too bad, I rather enjoyed it. the objects are simpler, and more within my skill level to render. I generally don't care about show-through on my paper, but this paper is...interesting. I'll go more into detail in another post, but it's not like anything I've ever tried before, and the show through is very obvious.



By the fifth spread I'd already leaned an enormous amount about my own preferences and habits. I'm apparently addicted to shading and dimension- I can't just use outline and fill in later with colour, never mind using just outline! I was most satisfied when using either my Ahab, which has a very flexible, fine nib, or an extremely fine Piloc G-Tech C3 gel pen with a 0.3 mm point. Which is like sketching with a needle. That was...kind of news. No wonder my drawing pencils and markers don't get used that often- I need to be able to shade, even with a pen.

Also- my technical skills are SO not ready for anything like the human form ! I'll probably take a whole year to study just that, later on. Too many things going on!

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Old 01-24-2013, 02:17 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

This is where I started to mix up the order of the pages, working ahead on the proper day if I was behind, and then going back to fill in the blank pages. And somewhere on here, in someone's beautiful art journals, I was reminded about borders, and tried it. And adored it. It looks SO much better!!

I'm drawing from a mixture of wetcanvas photos, google images, sketched from various art books, and real life at this point. And eeeew. Page 6 really cemented my dislike of still life without texture, much as I admire others who do it well. It was the most boring 6 minutes ever, and I instantly changed to different image sources, as you will see.




Now THIS was fun! For the first time, I felt like I was getting in a groove again, and happy with what I was drawing. And hilariously, there is a rather obvious absence of line!

My excuse that that I was exploring the tonal qualities of line, and shading possibilities in coloured pencil. (One of my main favourite mediums) Colored pencil is still a line based medium, but the quality of line is very different from, say...ink.



Actually, the only reason I started in ink instead of pencil was because of Daniel Gregory's insistance in Everyday Matters. I'd resisted that advice for so long (because it galls me- I draw with my eraser as much as a pencil, and erasing is perfectly fine, for heaven's sake), but since the idea was "Line" I figured I'd better use something that would stop me from shading. See how long that lasted?

The interesting side effect, is that I became fascinated by crosshatching. And apparently I have a thing for texture. So what could be more natural than exploring the ability of LINE to make TEXTURE?



I still feel like I'm missing the point of Line a little. Like maybe I should look at anime or manga for the expressive qualities of line. Maybe. We'll see. No promises!
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:26 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

wish I had time to demonstrate line. variety of line. I recall a Hockney that had such a wonderful variety of line and some Diebenkorn's. But how many ways can you make a line? Rub some graphite on an index card, lay the card down on your paper and smudge it off onto the paper, turn the index card over and burnish the back side of it, make a dotted line and change each of the dots...partly erase one, smudge one, it's captivating when you put your mind to it...thick lines, thin lines, line suggested by it's beginning and it's continuation...oh my, fun. But I appreciate the principles and elements of design. I used to evaluate one of my paintings with these principles.
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:27 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Totally gave up on exploring line for this spread- just desperate to make myself sketch. And I really started using the frames to break up the page and make it more interesting. In fact, I think I went forward and outlined the whole book at this point.



Tried a bit of pattern here. Usually love pattern, but wasn't feeling it on this day. (It's copied from a Canada Post Year of The Rabbit Postcard- quite beautiful in real life)



This is when I started using the "Botanical Illustration Course" book from the Eden project for images. Most of these exercise are copied straight from existing sketches in the book, but I really enjoyed exploring the forms. And of course, the textures!



Really went to town here- this was really fun. See how heavily the ink from the previous pages is coming through? This paper was not ever meant to be used on both sides!

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Old 01-24-2013, 02:36 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Ooh, Bevahlee, that description sounded so enticing! It's a good reminder that not all Line has to do with accuracy, which is kind of what I have in my head.

I am starting to enjoy exploring it a little bit more as I go. Some people are so breathlessly good at conveying things with line...it's sheer brilliance, the economy with which they convey information.

....don't think I'm quite there yet!

These next two are out of order, and were completed as some of the first sketches. I also explored a bit with a carpenter pencil here...where, in a book this size, the line becomes tone with no effort at all. It was interesting.

I think these were sketched from small photos in my Finnish Encyclopedia.



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Old 01-24-2013, 03:08 PM
jstarn jstarn is offline
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Okay, the paper.

I don't want to say this paper is crappy, because I kind of love it, but it was certainly never intended to be bound in book form. Or if it was, (because it is supposed to be a parchment-like surface, and parchment formed some of the earliest books) it was certainly never intended that both sides be used!

I have never seen such transparency in anything meant to take ink.

Canson Parchment is billed as a calligraphy paper, and maybe it would take acrylic inks well, and some of its poor handling is because I'm using water based ink. I don't have any to test, or I'd give a more concrete evaluation on that score.

The surface is smooth and hard; not smooth like plate, because there is a texture to it, (meant to imitate the calfskin, I assume) but smooth like....like....well, fine vellum, I suppose.

I love the hardness of the surface; if you flap a sheet of it, the loud crack it makes could be mistaken for thunder. It's pleasantly thin and crackly in book form, too, and folds with rigid crispness and accuracy. There is a bit of difference in the texture on each side, and it takes coloured pencil well, allowing a certain amount of layering.

You can see the level of show-through in the pictures. There is bleed-through as well. Normally I'm not all that fussed about show-through; I almost always prefer thin sheets and many pages to thick sheets and opacity, (especially in sketchbooks, which to me, are workbooks, and should look like it) but this level is a little extreme even for my tastes.

I have a feeling I'll miss the surface as I move onto other papers; the nib slides around beautifully and expressively, with no drag at all. It's almost slippery, and very fun to draw on.

To be honest, I'm at a bit of a loss. I don't know how to evaluate the paper, because I'm not sure what it is supposed to be good for. Large sheets of calligraphy that are one sided and framed? I'm certainly not using it that way. It's so crinkly that I wouldn't dare approach it with moisture. It's so transparent that any display would require a backing. It may be that acrylic inks would sit on the surface and stay vibrant and lively... but would they? I have no idea at all.

If anyone else has experience with this paper, please chime in. It gives the impression of being superb at one specific, narrow task...and that task is probably not a sketchbook.

(Even though I'm rather fond of it).

More exercises from Botanical Illustration.



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Old 01-24-2013, 03:12 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Wow! This is a fascinating journey. I love your documentation associated with each spread as you explain what you were doing and thinking as you explored this. It looks like you are learning valuable stuff here. The sketches as a whole are delightful. Looking forward to seeing more of your art.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:13 PM
jstarn jstarn is offline
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

These are from "The Art of Sketching" (the chapter on line :P), the "Finland cultural Encyclopedia" (Glass birds and Glass range) and "Sketching School".

The Art of Sketching the THE BEST book of sketching I have ever, ever, encountered. And there is no author listed! Just a translator- "Translated from the Spanish by Natalia Tizon". I had it out from the library so constantly that I finally bought a copy- and I think it's out of print.

Hmm. Maybe I should go re-read that chapter....





....and that brings up up to date! It's currently the 24th of the month, and I'm working on page 19, so...a bit of catching up to do!
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:57 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

This is a brilliant idea! I like that you aren't being precious with either the books you made or the paper, but just focusing on the process. It seems you are doing fine with line. You might enjoy Ian Sidaway Fine Line, a blog for his line drawings which are immensely inspiring. Mr. Sidaway has written many books on drawing and contributed to even more. So rock on with your drawing tools, and enjoy that you thought ahead and have each months book ready to go.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:20 AM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Jasmine you have done heaps of work here. It was an adventure following what you have done so far. Loved hearing about your process and the paper and materials. I think it is great that you are realising what you really like and don't like to do in your drawings. That is a big thing. There are some great sketches in here. Keep at it and enjoy the process.
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:33 AM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Thank you for sharing the process and the fantastic sketches.
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:47 AM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Wow, what a great study! I really like the way this coming.

On a side note, here's a link to some free art ebooks--the twelfth one down is about line and form, and looks useful from what I've seen of it so far: http://www.goldcoastartclasses.com/1...t-e-books.html
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Old 01-25-2013, 12:07 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

I used to focus A LOT on line when I was learning to tattoo. Something that you might find fun that I used to do is to try it with different materials. I find a raphael #2 brush to be incredible to work with. I also have sharpened sticks and dipped em with ink, bamboo wood etc also works well...I did an entire piece with a chopstick once. The variations are endless with different materials. Since you are doing experiments and learning it might be fun.
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Old 01-25-2013, 12:32 PM
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Re: Elements and Principles - LINE

Jasmine, I have a challenge for you. A very exciting one (for me anyway)...take some of your drawings, just enough to make an interesting comp. then do value studies. First light on light, dark on dark, light on medium or midtone, midtone on midtone, midtone on dark, midtone with dark and light, more dark than light (light being the accents) then the opposite of that, and then gradation...you can play with this forever. I did 36 but just use small drawings and make the values very solid..no sketchy marks. very exciting process, IMHO
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