Friday, May 25, 2012

Figures in Color

Figure in watercolor on Yupo by Meera Rao

Figure in watercolor on YUPO by Meera Rao

For almost three weeks now I have been practicing drawing the human figure.  Painting on Yupo was perfect for practicing with watercolors since I could easily rectify any mistakes by wiping off! I drew with watercolor pencils for the top one and graphite pencil for the bottom one before picking up transparent watercolors and had fun with it. It has been very exciting and challenging.  

Last year I volunteered to be a model for a portrait painting demo at our watercolor society meeting.  The one thing I noticed was that the artist constantly looked at me --as much or more than looking down at the paper.  Her rapid fire glances, constant measuring and checking the angles was my takeaway from the session --since I couldn't see what she was drawing only how she was looking at the model! 

I came across this quote by Leonardo da Vinci : "Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works."  So off to more practice :) 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

To Erase Or Not To Erase?

Randompose pen by Meera Rao

I have been sketching these poses from the App Random Pose  for a few days now spending a couple of hours or more working on one pose each day.  It feels good to flip my sketchbook and see a collection of these.  But just as I was getting confident about the end results of each day, my ego got a reality check -- I was erasing so hard couple of days ago that the paper tore! I remember reading in Bert Dodson's book 'Fail and exploit the failure.'  So yesterday  I made myself sketch with pen only being more mindful of each line I put down.  I have to say it didn't take hours to complete the pose! 

Random Pose Graphite by Meera Rao

Random Pose  Graphite by Meera Rao

Bert Dodson in his book Keys to Drawing with Imagination writes: " I'm a strong believer in a quality I call 'wobble,' the less-than-perfect execution of things crafted by hand"   So I am setting aside my hesitations about using the eraser. Why unnecessarily make things harder on myself. As it is the human figure is complicated enough. I will concern myself with observation and practice and more practice alternating pen and pencil in my daily sketching and build my skills and confidence.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Habit Forming

Sketches from 'Random Pose'  5x7 graphite by Meera Rao

This past week, I started to sketch atleast 30 secs early in the morning as I sipped my coffee instead of reading the paper or checking the e-mail. I want to be disciplined enough to sketch every morning - so I signed up at to participate in 3Tiny Habits. Dr. BJ Fogg from Stanford has created 'a way to tap the power of context and baby steps.'

I started the tiny habit last friday (even though official start date was to be on Monday this week.) So far I have enjoyed sketching everyday. I keep sketching for a little longer or go back and finish them later in the day but I really like the 30 second option :) Rather than try to think of what to sketch, I have been selecting poses from an App "Random Pose" in my phone.  I downloaded the app from the iTunes store more than a year or two ago but was apprehensive until now about using it. 

While it is not anywhere  close to drawing from life, I am getting practice in drawing the human figure on my own terms. The poses show major muscle groups and I am learning with every sketch.  So far I have not pushed to finish a figure in 30 secs but at the website a timer can be started to practice gesture drawing.  May be in a few days :) -- right now I am getting familiar with the body shapes, proportions etc.. I hope to add colors and washes sometime soon. Do you have any practices to help you be disciplined about your daily sketching or painting?  

I have added a page to my blog for my Sketch Book project "A Day in the Life."  Now you can see the book from cover to cover in the right order! Please do check it out  and leave me your feed back :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Play of Light

Play of light  digital photography by Meera Rao 

Art has a double face, of expression and illusion, just like science has a double face: the reality of error and the phantom of truth.
Publilius Syrus

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Food For Thought

Jam jar watercolor on yupo 6x4 " by Meera Rao

Presimmons watercolor on Yupo 4x6" by Meera Rao

I painted these two small paintings on YUPO  two weeks ago. They were both donated to a fundraiser for Akshaya Patra a non-profit organization in India that aims to make sure "no child shall be deprived of education because of hunger."  Their website explains: "A public-private partnership, Akshaya Patra combines good management, innovative technology and smart engineering to deliver school lunch at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in other parts of the world. The program started in 2000 by feeding 1,500 children from a temporary kitchen in Bangalore, India. Currently, we distribute freshly cooked, healthy meals daily to 1.3 million underprivileged children in 8,000 government schools through 19 kitchens in eight states in India." Recently, the organization's wonderful work was highlighted by PBS, NPR in their news programs.   

Speaking of education, I came across an article in Huffington Post: Drawing Ability Has Psychological Basis In Perception And Memory, Researchers Say  by Natalie Wolchover.  She highlights research on 'What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?'  Of course, lots of practice is way up there along with some very interesting observations : Based on their research, the psychologists recommended the following techniques for getting better at drawing: Focus on scaling a drawing to fit the size of the paper; anchor an object in its surroundings by showing how it sits in space; focus on the distance between elements of the object and on their relative sizes; and focus on the size and shape of "negative space," or the empty space between parts of the object. Lastly, they recommend thinking of "lines" as what they really are -- boundaries between light and dark areas. I would love to read the original study in detail but then I should just go and practice sketching :) 

PS : If you have time to kill go on and watch the videos on creativity in the same link under "Also on Huffpost."  
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