Sunday, November 15, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

I secretly wish I could draw. (Not so secretly now that I'm blogging about it I guess!)

Seeing Renee's adventures in her first year of art school, makes me realize that I don't want it enough to seriously pursue it at this point. (To say nothing of the talent and emotional fortitude that path would require of me.)

I do have a project in mind for spring, a giant nuno-felted wall-hanging for a giant wall in my house.

Before tackling that project, I'd like to beef up my design skills.

I'm hoping this book will help!

I cleared off my studio table enough to get to work with acrylic paint.

The first series of exercises in the book sounded so simple I wasn't even going to blog about them. I thought, "Well, that should take about half an hour and be super easy."

2 attempts and 2 hours later....

My two attempts to draw a value scale with even intervals between colors.

My first attempt (at the bottom of the picture) shows that I had trouble differentiating between some of the middle values.

For that version, I followed the directions, but was bummed to realize that a little bit of black paint goes a long way. It wasn't just a matter of mixing equal parts of black and white like I'd hoped.

The top version looks pretty good toward the light end of the scale, but what is that muddy, all the same value section toward the dark end?

Doing away with thoughts of perfection, I pressed on to the next exercise.

I got to cut out squares of different colors - pictures of clothing fabrics from a catalog.

I tried to approximate the value with my black and white paints. I'd mix a color and see if it fit anywhere. If not, I'd add more paint to see if it would work better.

I was more successful with this exercise. (First, who doesn't love cutting up magazines and looking at colors?)

How do I know I was more successful? A black and white photocopy should come out identical if I successfully matched the value. You can see that I did pretty well with that. (The values in the top and bottom row of the photocopy should be the same when the values are the same.)

The photocopying trick is a good one. I can definitely imagine using it for yarn or fabric - since we've got a scanner attached to our printer. Say I want values that contrast for color and weave. I could just take my two samples, photocopy them and see their values. I could also do something similar taking a photo and using software to turn it black and white.

I'm hoping to do one exercise in this book weekly, so that by spring, when I do my giant wall-hanging, I'll have more design skills than I do today.

Of course, I can't help thinking that designing tapestry, a mosaic backsplash for my stove or a stained glass window would also be easier with better design skills. I've definitely seen a big improvement in my photography skills over the past year, so hopefully with practice I'll see a big improvement in my design skills too!


Wool Enough said...

That book looks really neat. I've been dabbling in watercolors lately, but never thought anything in that art form would transfer into fiber design. Hmmmmm.


Sharon said...

Oh, how I am laughing. I have walked that walk and have the paints upstairs to prove it. As much as I love art, I just knew there had to be an artist in me. Several painful and not cheap experiences later, I have become a Photoshopper. Good luck and I mean it.

Theresa said...

Oh my, that does look interesting and nice job with the values! I love to draw sometimes, hence the heavily painted headboard and footboard, but it kind of strikes like lightening. I wake up one morning and feel the need to paint something. Neither furniture nor walls are safe. That looks like an excellent book to have on hand for the next strike!
Designing stained glass is hard BTW, as there are somethings just harder to do with it.

Theresa said...

Oh, and it is funny that you should be mentioning this because just last week I picked up a flyer by a local artist who is offering drawing and painting classes.

Life Looms Large said...

I firmly believe that concepts learned in one medium transfer to others - and that's one of my favorite things about being in my studio. I love making those connections!

Theresa, I'm officially jealous of your painting skill! I remember those headboard pics. Very cool!!

I've done a small amount of work with stained glass - made the window that's in my living room, and have a long-stalled window for our bedroom all cut and mostly ground. But I'm not loving it, so it's sitting in a bin. Incubating.

Seeing how much drawing it takes to get really good is daunting though.

I just want to feel like I've done due diligence so that when it warms up outside, I can just do this nuno piece and get it out of my system.

Glad that I'm not the only person who loves both yarn and paint!


Jennifer said...

Oh yes - that book is on my list. He only lives an hour from me and has a number of seminars and one on one consultations! I've heard rave reviews over them, but I thought I'd start with the book. We did some of this my my mosaics class with Laura Aiken - concentrating on values. Besides photocopying - you can photograph and then use your photo software to go black and white. I did find it harder to look at values at the same time as colors! Like how does a deep yellow compare with a medium plum. Ugh! I look forward to seeing your journey!

Delighted Hands said...

Looks like a great book-I think my fiber pursuits are my form of art work tho. Have fun expanding your artistry.

bspinner said...

One of my favorite books on creativity is The How To Think Like Leonardo de Vinci Workbook. I can' remember where I got mine but I see Amazon sells it. I've also worked my through Drawing From The Right Side of Your Brain.

charlotte said...

I'm sure you'll learn a lot of very useful stuff, and I admire your determination. We had a lot of drawing and sketching in high school, and I never had the patience. I gave up almost immediately when my drawing didn't look like the original, but I sure wish I could draw and paint now. I think it's a very useful thing for a weaver.

Benita said...!

Life Looms Large said...

I might have given the impression that I'm using this book to learn to draw.....but that's not quite accurate. I'm trying to learn design principles, as an extension of what I've learned with photography.

This book seems really applicable to a lot of things that I want to be able to make.

That's cool, Jennifer, that you live close enough to consider studying with the author. From what I've seen online, and so far in the book, he's a good teacher.

Thanks for the Da Vinci book recommendation. It sounds like it covers some of the things that I want to get better at - and my library has a copy!!

I really, really hope that I do an exercise in this Design book every week all winter.


Leigh said...

It looks as though this self-study will be invaluable to you as a fiber artist as well. Art was my first major in college. I just wish I could have been directed toward weaving back then.

Renee said...

Just catching up before posting and saw your work. Values are not easy. It helps to squint or close one eye and squint with the other one. There are also tools that can help you see value but the exercise you did is really the best way to begin!
I have been told by master artists both living and not that drawing is the foundation of art. It teaches you to see the hidden. I am not going to lie, it isn't easy. It can be frustrating, boring and repetitious but also extremely gratifying and joyful. Drawing is not a talent, but a skill, like weaving! That means it can be learned. I also second the How to Think Like Leo book. It is by Michael Gelb. Keep challenging yourself and remember it takes time!