Nov 5, 2015

The Power of Suggestion & Fuzzy Pencils - Drawing Tips


I like to hike.  Not the marathon 4 day type, the one-dayer's: a few hours or all day.  It is an awesome experience to walk through our coastal forests or head up into the mountains.  Some of my favorite hikes are around the lakes nestled in the Coastal Mountains just northeast of Vancouver in the Harrison Lake Valley.  The lush green forests are draped with moss (yes, they do get LOTS of rain there) and the ground cover is varied and plentiful. The trail is soft and springy with its many layers of twigs, leaves, fir needles, and dead or dying ferns fronds.

That is the problem. 

VICTOR - 16 x 20 - Graphite & Coloured Pencil, Commission
You want to draw a forest scene.  You want to put a bird, animal or person in the scene.  They are the focus and you know they need the detail.  No problem there.  But they need a setting that is believable.  Before you know it, you are drawing every twig and needle on the trail, both foreground and background.  Not good.  Your composition strategy has gone out the window.  The principles of eye movement, focal point, and hard and soft edges seem to be lost and your pencil just doesn't seem to be listening.

Victor was my challenge.  A beautiful dog and joy to draw.  "We would like a background, the owners said.  A forest setting, trees, ferns that kind of thing
Okay. . .
I searched through my reference pictures and found some great ferns on a grassy knoll and with the magic of Photoshop, plopped Victor in the middle.  Great, we love it was the response.
I set to work.

The foreground was the problem.  That wonderful lush ground cover threatened to sabotage Victor.  The detail screamed to be heard but I didn’t want it.  I needed a plan.

My plan.
First a light value of graphite over the whole area. This is like the painters that block in an area to get rid of the white surface. Because I was putting coloured pencil on top I kept it light.  
Few key details laid out - large leaf and clumps of grass
Then I sketched in a few large detailed shapes: leaves and sprigs of grass. Now it was time to study patterns.  Yes, there are patterns in the groundcover. It is found in the lights and darks and their flow.  Using that fuzzy pencil again, 4B this time, I stroked clumps of lines, varying the value, the direction and the length.
Working the pattern of the ground vary the strokes in value and length

Working the pattern and changing the direction
As I did so I could see random shapes appear that could be bits and pieces of twigs, leaves, grass and mossy.  Some of these I darken and others I left.  The detailed leaves and clumps of grass surrounded by partially created shapes makes the forest bed take shape.  That is the Power of Suggestion.

Adding definition to the suggested shapes.
Working across my drawing you can see how this worked.  When I added my colour I continued this process: fuzzy pencils and stroking varying the value, the direction and length. It made my colours nicely blended.  
Close up of the ground cover with the colour added. 
Next time you need a busy foreground/background, use your fuzzy pencil and "suggest" away!

Not too late to order that pet portrait for Christmas.  They are an awesome way to celebrate a cherished pet and treasured gift for that pet lover in your family.  Give me a call and we can get started.  Gift Certificates are available as well.

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day, Wendy


Brenda Hill CDM said...

nice one Wendy, grass and leaves can be such a challenge!

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Oh so right. They really trap you into drawing all the detail and suddenly the whole picture is out of wack!!