Schoolism - Pictorial Composition - Week 1, Engaging Your Audience

I often wonder if I've hit all the marks with a piece I've worked on so I decided to take Pictorial Composition with Nathan Fowkes because I know that it's an important aspect to making a successful image.

Nathan said, "Artwork is made up of rendering, colour and composition." He shared that we all have a tendency to focus on the first two but, without composition, an image can lack depth and fall flat. Colour is the frosting while composition is more of a fight. We need to learn what to emphasize or leave out. The course would cover what makes an image a compelling and engaging piece. 

This week's assignment began by putting together a reference file of images of any kind that inspire and move us: frame captions, photography, animation, or films that we felt had a pleasing composition. Of 3 images we were asked to paint copies but in a specific way. We were to deconstruct them to find out what made them tick. I chose one background painting from Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away (art by Kazuo Oga), one painting by Lord Frederick Leighton, and one painting by Frank Frazetta.

How we went about deconstructing them:

  1. Create a quick study of each that uses only 3 greyscale values to depict the original scene. No soft edges, no textures, just 3 values forcing you to think and make clear choices on what to edit and why. It reminded me of gesture drawing where you must quickly put down the essence of what's important. One should be able to tell at a glance what's going on in the picture.
  2. Make a full-range greyscale study of the same images, maintaining the strength and intent of the originals while minimizing extraneous detail. Again, no textures, just the guts. This was tough because I normally love to add detail; I had to constantly remind myself not to do that.
  3. Lastly, do another study, almost the same as the previous step, albeit in full colour. Each study was to be made in under an hour.

I'm not sure if I was completely successful but I feel like I already learned some valuable tips that I'll keep in mind for future projects.

Life Drawing - March 17

I've been a tad busy the last couple of months and not able to get out for life drawing so it was nice to get out to Kagan's for some much needed practice. Below are a mixture of 1-minute warm-ups and 5-10-minute sketches.

Life Drawing

Below are some life drawings from a few sessions at Kagan McLeod's studio who is a pretty well-known illustrator .

While drawing, I almost always feel like my proportions are wrong but when I've had a chance to step back I'm often surprised that the sketches turn out better than expected.  I still have to work on getting in those 10,000 hours.

Tonkinese study

As I have some upcoming pet portraits to work on, I decided to do a little practice drawing of a Tonkinese cat from photo reference.  My cat happens to be a Tonkinese - wonderful little guy but doesn't seem to like having his picture taken.  Thank God for the internet and Google! ;-)