Saturday, August 13, 2011

O Lucky Mio!

I've just returned from a wonderful six days in Venice. I flew out last Friday for a course taught by an illustrator I've long admired, the wonderful Yuko Shimizu. 12 people attended, all women - five Italians, one Mexican, Brazilian, Ethiopian, Canadian, two Germans and me, representing for the Brits. It was such a fun and inspiring group.

An exercise Yuko set us for the first few mornings was "Blind Drawing" - I must have done this at college but I'd forgotten it, and how useful it might be. I have noticed that when I'm location drawing, unless I'm very vigilant, I can catch myself looking more at my paper than my subject. I think blind drawing is useful for building your trust in the movement of your hand when you're not keeping an eye on it, and for improving the automatic connection between what you see and what you draw. Also it makes you concentrate on really looking at what you are drawing. 

I've posted my blind drawings in chronological order in case they are interesting- I felt I could really see an improvement. Yuko warned us our drawings would look like monsters, but "monsters of the person" - she was completely right - all the features are in the wrong place, and one has three eyes as I couldn't remember what I'd drawn. But, sometimes, the features are just those of the person I was looking at.

I also managed to get some location drawing done. The amazing thing about Venice is its beauty is non-stop. You sort of marvel at it at first, the consistent magic of it - as if you'll turn a corner and see the scenery movers peeling back a board to reveal something horrid and modern underneath. But no - it just keeps on being beautiful. And it's a total gift to someone who likes drawing old, wobbly buildings. 

And if that someone gets to draw them sitting in the sunshine next to a canal, gelato in hand and with the strains of O Sole Mio floating on the air... well.

It's really been such a wonderful experience. Often I've wished that I knew more illustrators in London who I could talk with about work. The opportunity to swap tips, especially computer tips, talk about illustration and see other illustrators' techniques has been very inspiring, reaffirming and sort of moving for me. And I met some really super people - altogether I feel very lucky.


MochiPan said...

I love the blind drawings! I can get a sense of the people even though they do look slightly wonky. I did that on an illustration course I went to a couple of years ago. I think it's one of those things that you do on a course, go 'ooh that's fun' and then for one reason or another, never do again!

The building pictures are fantastic too, I really love the way your style comes through in them. I wish I had more confidence to draw on location. I find I get very paranoid about people coming and looking at what I'm doing. People don't seem to think it might be uncomfortable to have a complete stranger staring over your shoulder while you draw. But really, I should have more confidence! If you ever want to get together and do some drawing, please let me know! I wanted to try and set up a little drawing club - for people to get together and draw and just talk about techniques etc etc, but just need to find enough people to come!

The course sounds so good, where did you hear about it?

OK, that's a big enough essay from me now!

Emily (MochiPan)

Lance (Maru) Bauer said...

The blind drawing technique is useful for when you really need to just focus on what you're seeing, becoming part of the pencil. I've done it enough that I can sometimes draw the exact image I'm seeing in perfect detail without looking at the paper.

I'm slightly envious that you got to draw architecture in Venice, in person. The buildings are beautiful(at least what I've seen from photos).

Tor Freeman said...

Hi Emily!

Thanks! I think the location drawing confidence grows with practice - at college we had quite a baptism of fire with it, as we did tons of it straight away. In those days I used acrylics so needed water, palettes etc which I had to spread around me - I think this makes you a magnet for CHAT as people see that you can't easily move away... but it does get easier, and mostly people don't hang over your shoulder for too long. Unless it's Paris, in which case they hang for ages and ask you for a drink, really not in a flattering way.

I heard about the course from Kalo actually, it was the third time this year. If you look at Yuko Shimizu's website she has posted the details of the school. I would definitely recommend it!

Tor Freeman said...

Hi Lance,

That's my aim! I want to be part of the pencil. Or the other way round. Do you do it every day?

The buildings are extraordinary. I'm sure you'd love it, but I know it's rather further from Virginia than London!


Kalo said...

Aiiii! I love blind drawings. I got some cool monsters ones when I did my course with Yuko! Let me dig them out and put on my blog! After practising for two years (on and off) I really felt I sort of get a hang of it. I know where my hands are moving!
So glad to hear that u enjoyed the course. It was the best experience in my life and I hope it was same to you. See you tomorrow!!! cant wait