Monday, January 17, 2011

practice, practice, practice

Sue B here and I thought I'd share another one of my highly prized sketches with you.  I live in New England and one of my favorite times of year is fall.  This past year we had a very colorful fall and I took tons of photos so that I would have a record of the glorious colors that surrounded my home.  I've been using these photos as subjects for my watercolor practice...


You might notice the cut edge around the leaf painting.   That's because when I'm working with the watercolors I prefer to work on single cut sheets of watercolor paper rather than directly into my book.  Once the painting has dried I just paste it into my spiral bound book.  This makes it easier to work on the painting because I can turn and work on the paper on any angle without having to deal with working over the binding.  I am really enjoying exploring working with watercolors and I am having the most success when I concentrate on working on a single image rather than a scene.  Once my skills improve and I have a better understanding of how the paints behave I'll work up to more complex scenes. In the meantime it's practice, practice, practice!

And speaking of practice... when I'm not sure what I want to draw I pull out Carla's book Drawing Lab. This book is an absolute treasure!  The exercises are fun and just challenging enough without being overwhelming.  


The one on the left is single line drawings and the one on the right is from the Dr Seuss inspired exercise.  I'm definitely going back to revisit that one.  These are quick 5 minute sketches done with a micron pen and I have a cheap notebook with thin paper that I use for these because these are really not about the images that I'm drawing it's about the practice, practice, practice...  

And if I haven't convinced you yet how important it is to practice at drawing (or anything for that matter) take a look at this sketchbook page on display at the Museum of Fine Arts that I took a photo of  (yes you are allowed to take non flash photos at the museum, I asked first) yesterday...


It's a practice page from the sketchbook of Martin Johnson Heade.  He was a prolific American painter known for his salt marsh, landscapes, seascapes, portraits of tropical birds and still lifes.  You can read more about him here.  I came across this display of his sketchbooks and found the simplicity of the drawings in his sketchbooks very encouraging.   It's a testament to the statement that the best way to get good at something is to practice, practice practice!

Lastly, if you missed the live broadcast of the interview I did with Artistically Speaking Radio yesterday you can listen to the recording here.

11 comments:

  1. Oh how I hated those words at school ... and how much I learnt to appreciate practise, practise, practise now ... does that mean I'm finally a grown-up ??? Thanks for the gentle reminder, Sue!

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  2. That is a neat idea for easy access to your work page. I am gonna try that. Thanks for sharing. Lovely coloring.
    QMM

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  3. Wonderful example of the merits of practice. It's a shame that we are so intimidated by early practice drawings.

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  4. So true, practice, practice, practice! When we do that great ideas have a chance to pop up and take root.

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  5. I love the vibrant leaf that you have shared with us, it seems to have a life of it's own!

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  6. I went to the V & A Museum in London a couple of weeks ago and saw the hundreds of sketches of rabbits that Beatrix Potter did for The Tale of Peter Rabbit. It did make me think 'practice makes perfect!'
    Now, I just need to find more time .....

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  7. How fun to see into your practice journal. I just received Carlas book and I am off to practice and play. I am also working on binding my own sketchbook. My UPS man is loving me. Last week it was watercolors and more pigma pens and my awesome new toy..my waterbrush! Love it and having so much fun playing with watercolors once again. Thank you all for the inspiration and giving me a much need push to get back to what I love...creating !!!

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  8. Thanks for the idea to paint separately and paste in one's sketchbook later. I have a piece I did not want to attempt in the sketchbook because I wanted to paint it, but I was frustrated by the fact that doing it outside the sketchbook would mean I would have to find another way to store it.

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  9. Nice colors on your piece and I adored Vermont in the fall while I lived there for over 6 years. I truly miss those vibrant colors you captured so well in your work. I like the idea of doing it separately and then inserting into the book. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. What a great idea about cutting out and gluing in your work. I was finding some sketch books to be difficult to work in. Great idea. Your leaf took me right back to last Fall and a warm sunny day.(it is 26 degrees out today, so I thank you)!

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