Sunday, January 15, 2012

MOVING FORWARD: Lecia and Adrianne at Sauvies Island

First I have to say that this photo doesn't show the entire piece, but in order to get the details to show, I had to leave out part of the sky.  (I purposely avoided cutting the landscape in half in the actual drawing).
This last Tuesday I underwent surgery to repair my hernia.  I knew I would have the opportunity to get a fair amount of drawing and painting done.  So I took on another watercolor on Wednesday. It did not go well.  I was disappointed in my effort,  so much so that I didn't even want to post it.  This gave me cause to evaluate my ability to construct and execute paintings satisfactorily.  So on Friday I looked up a photo I had been wanting to paint from the moment I saw it. ...The photo for this drawingwas taken by my daughter Grace at Sauvies Island last year.  Grace has been able to capture some great scenes on camera, and I think this is one of her best.  In fact, both of my daughters have a very good eye for photography and I have added some of their photos to my list of potential pieces. (I am going to use a clause in my personal creative contract here that allows me to use anything my immediate family has photographed as  reference material). anyway...
I decided to literally go back to the drawing board in order to re-establish my  fundamentals. The first effort was Charlie Neal.  A good start, but not entirely satisfactory.  And now about this drawing.

1. Before I began this drawing,  I knew that patience was going to be a key factor.  I am using 4 different pencils on my drawings now. 2H, 2B, 4H, and HB instead of whatever I find handy.. (this is known as the 5 pencil method, more on that in later posts). The biggest challenge was getting Adriannes right leg correct. The drawing would've  been a failure  had I not gone over a third time to get it just right.  I didn't use tracing paper, only a compass and ruler to get the dimension and angle. The eye has a tendency to see what should be there instead of what really is there. Big challenge was both hand and arm positions.  If the point of reference is off, the whole drawing is off.
I was well on my way to success until I realized the position and dimension of the leg /foot was slightly askew.
 As you can see in the snapshot, I did not establish the correct leg position until after I began filling out the forms at the top. A risky move that could have been disastrous.  Lucky for me, I was using very light strokes, so erasing didn't leave indentations or smudges where the leg had been. After this, I resumed filling in the figures.  Sometimes I have to prove to myself that the key components of a drawing are going to work before I fully commit to the composition. Though I had  the left figure and horizon lines sketched in, I had no road or background penciled in. Another risk I was willing to take. This did cause a bit of a problem later, when I got off center with the background .
2.  As I mentioned, I used very light strokes on the drawing to fill in the shadows.  This is very time consuming, but it helps immensely in getting the correct values since the darks appear in graduations.
I snapped this photo after I had finished the leg and most of the shirt (photo is off kilter)

.   3.  Another challenge was Adrianne's shirt.  Very tedious, but it turned out okay.

4.  Finally after many hours of shading,  I was able to add the background.  It was difficult to resist rushing this as well.  This is the longest I have spent on a drawing that I can remember, but I knew it needed to be consistent, so I persevered.
I can honestly say after looking at this drawing that I am satisfied with it.  I will probably continue to fill in some spots in the road to give it more depth, and I might work in some of the light clouds that were visible in the original photo.
I had one heck of a time photographing this drawing.  The sky is actually still completely white in the drawing, and there is more of it.


  1. I really enjoyed seeing your process on this one. You captured the moment perfectly, and I like how the drawing goes from darker tones up to your daughter's shirt so pale and the sky pale...and then her dark hair stops our eyes from going right out the top and that X of her suspenders brings us back to your other daughter in the wagon to look more closely. Well done. I won't ask you how many hours you spent on this :) but will ask what type of paper you used and what size it is. I've heard of the 5 Pencil Method and even looked at a few videos of it but I have such a heavy hand, I can't draw lightly (or haven't trained myself to do so). There was nothing wrong with your drawing of your nephew, but this one, I think, began in the heart and it shows more of that on the page :)

    1. Thanks RH. As you know I have sent you an email in addition to this online reply. I am confessing now to the world that I have had so few comments on my blog up to this point that I didn't know how to publish my reply, so here it is again for everyone else to see...

      Thanks so much for your comments RH. I always welcome input. I spent the better part of 2 days doing this small drawing. Probably 10 hours total start to finish, but because I was very careful, probably spent more time than I needed to. It was done on a sheet of 12" X9" Strathmore 2ply Bristol Vellum.. This is actually a picture of my wife Lecia pulling my daughter Adrianne in a wagon at a local u pick farm. Lecia (and sometimes myself)used to take our daughters to Sauvies Island on a regular basis when they were children, so this trip last year kind of revisited their childhood, bringing back fond memories of being pulled in the wagon etc. Adrianne (now 22) playfully jumped in the wagon and my daughter Grace snapped the photo. I was immediately drawn to the Wyeth-esque qualities of the picture.
      In the Charlie Neal drawing, I paid less attention to what pencil I was using for each shadow and had to get used to what each pencil would do. I will be more deliberate in the future now that I know. On a related note. I read an interview with a very fine artist Julio Reyes who is married to another very talented artist Candace Bohannon. In it he mentioned that he spends from 2 weeks to a month on a large (18X22) graphite drawing, so I guess I kind of rushed this in comparison (insert chuckle).

    2. The two artists I mentioned in my earlier reply are. Julio Reyes and Candice Bohannon. Very accomplished artists both. But I suspect they are very busy with other things right now because I haven't seen recent posts from either blog. Obviously a good thing.

  2. Hi Kevin,
    This was particularly interesting reading for me, since neither drawing or patience can be found in my tool kit. I salute you for possessing both!
    I enjoyed learning about your thought process in creating this work, too. Figures are something I hope to work my way into someday and I expect it will be a monumental struggle.
    Who knows, Kevin, someday I may be your student!
    It's a touching and wonderful drawing.

  3. Thanks Gary. I am trying to keep my posts as short as possible while including key elements. I find it hard not to ramble on. So I am happy to hear the word interesting being used in relation to my posts. At some point I will have to utilize my daughters Journalism expertise to edit this blog.
    I was pretty much forced to go back to drawing because of the recent "failures" I spoke of earlier. (As they say, nothing is truly a failure if you learn from it). And as far as patience, that is something I'm still struggling with. Several times during the process I had to restrain myself from rushing. For drawing figures I had to go back to basics. I have the feeling you will find it easier than you thought, based on your ability.