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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Exercise: Draw, draw and draw again

The aim for this exercise is to spend time focusing on the drawing without worrying about the content. For me this was an opportunity to simplify a complicated or busy subject as if working in a real life scenario and responding to busy distractions that can often take your attention away from the particular moment.

I chose a photo from my recent trip that I knew I would want to work from in a future project. It felt right to bring it in here as it had the right level of complexity and a subject that had interest. I loved the genius layout of this shoe polishing shed that was parked on a busy city street. What was more charming about this picture is the interaction I received from the sitter, there was warmth in this situation.

I know that had I worked from life I would have wanted to capture everything I see here. As we know, this is not always achievable with many possible obstacles such as the speed in which life moves! Using the photo as a reference here would be great practice in learning to accept the mistakes or at least to let go of perfection. I enjoy creating realistic, but what I would like to achieve is a good style in capturing life quickly.

With this target in mind, I started on the first drawing.

I started this sketch like I would normally, with blue pencil to rough out the picture. Sometimes I prefer this stage before the outlining. There is a looseness in the lines that I love. It all tends to fall flat from there on, or I end up over working the drawing.

This drawing is a good example of this.

Drawing 1 felt like the warm up, I threw more ink on the piece than I would have liked. The grey tone was perhaps a few shades too dark, where I think a lighter grey can balance out the darkness of black ink and the white paper.

I also included more information in this drawing, aiming to keep proportion and scale as close to the photo as possible. As I decided to treat this like a warm up towards the end, I experimented with a few different pens to see which I would prefer. Starting with a 0.2 fine liner had some benefits in the smaller areas, but overall it didn't feel smooth enough on the paper. It also felt like too big of a difference/contrast after using a thicker pencil.

Next I brought in the 0.7mm Posca pen, which instantly felt like an improvement. It had juice in it and, whilst it is a slightly thicker end compared to the fine liner that felt restricting, the juiciness really made a difference. The pen would glide so much nicer across the paper and I loved how much ink was coming out! The pin type Posca feel totally different to the bullet shaped, which is the next pen I brought in to give some outlines a thicker finish. The bullet shaped end feels like any marker. By the end of this drawing I had decided the tools I was going to continue with.

Unhappy with how far I took the pen work, I decided to finish this with some incomplete areas, leaving the blue pencil to be visible in less important areas.

The second attempt at drawing this photo didn't go according to the brief requirements. I still needed the original reference photo as well as drawing one to help. I was beginning to remove some of the background detail that wasn't important, however the final drawing did still feel detailed.

Part of me wanted to keep the background in as it was the shed that had attracted me to taking this photo originally, as well as the subject matter. Removing too much information would perhaps take away the essence of this street service that we very rarely see in the west. The very shed seemed vintage in its style and rather fancy!

Drawing 3:

Drawing 4:

Drawing 5:

Drawing 6:

Drawing 7:

I enjoyed this practice and feel it is something is underestimated as a way to find your comfort in how you draw the subject. although many of the above look similar, there are one or two that I think I enjoy the result of most. After Drawing 5 I was really in a stride that felt good. It was fun to eventually draw with just the pen, and actually it is this kind of etchy line work that I see in peoples sketchbooks that draw from life and appreciate.

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