Friday, January 4, 2013

The Art of the Start

Art of the Start 1/30

Several people have asked me what the different start procedures are in my start project. This post is an attempt to answer that.

First, if you remember, my inspiration was Richard Schmid's detailing of six ways to start an oil painting. Not everything he says applies to colored pencils, so I began adjusting from there. Below I detail the various ways that I see to start a colored pencil drawing - I am only including the last three in my project.

Ways to Start a Colored Pencil Drawing:
  • Begin with a detailed line drawing. 
    • The idea here is that you begin with a detailed drawing and then color over the whole thing. This lends itself to the great color effects you can get with layers of transparent colored pencils. One danger is that it can lead to a very tight outcome - if that is what you are going for, it isn't a danger but a strength. I am actually trying to get away from beginning this way, so it is not included in my project. Note: for oil painters like Schmid, the detailed drawing you began with ends up entirely covered and not visible. For colored pencil work (a transparent medium), the drawing becomes part of the layering but is never fully obliterated.
    • Variations include:
      • doing a complete monochromatic value drawing (grisaille)
      • complete complement value drawing (Arlene Steinberg). 
  • Begin with the dark value shapes. ("follow the darks")
    • Here you are just picking out the darkest shapes and connecting them. Ideally those dark shapes will cross objects. It should allow you to focus on creating an interesting value pattern.
    • It can be difficult to control the drawing though, you aren't using construction lines here, you aren't beginning with a line drawing, you are focusing on shapes. This is my favorite approach and tends to lead to my strongest results.
  • Begin with the large color shapes. ("follow the colors")
    • You just start blocking in the general colors, again across forms. You then build and refine from there.
    • I find this approach terribly difficult. For me, it's more difficult to control the drawing then the value shape start. However I suspect that this sort of approach would work well with the "layering" nature of color pencils. I don't know if my difficulty is my weakness in terms of color or just a quirk of my personality. Most artists find themselves more comfortable with value or colors - and I'm definitely much stronger with values. I endeavor every year to build my color knowledge but my approach will probably always be to nail the values and just get a fair sense of the color.
  • Use the jigsaw puzzle approach with correct color, value and shape from the beginning
    • This is Schmid's favorite approach - I gather it feels quite elegant - a bit like baking a cake makes you feel like a domestic goddess. This is the approach of many impressionist painters.
    • In oil painting, this sort of approach has a beautiful result if done right. 
    • I'm not sure how to apply this exactly in colored pencils. As CPs benefit from layering, this doesn't seem entirely applicable. I'm still interested in this approach though because it seems to me to be a perfect way to approach sketching in colored pencils. I'll let you know how it goes with my project.
While I hope to finish this project in a timely fashion, I don't have a set time limit. I have a few other hard deadlines, so this is priority one after those. I've done three so far, one of each type.

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