I learned something today. Of course, I try to learn something every day, and usually I do come across at least one new fact, one new idea, one new piece of information that I find interesting, informative, or unusual. It could be any subject, really. I’m always reading on many different topics, exploring different areas, and following wherever my curious mind leads.
And sometimes it leads me to a new “art discovery” — which, maybe you’ve figured out, is what “Artistcoveries” is really all about. Art. Discoveries. Things I’m learning as I make my way through the world of visual art.
Today was one of those “art discovery” days. I learned something simple, something everyone reading this probably already knows, but for me, it was one of those “Oh, I see!” sort of moments. It came from a rather surprising place — a book about drawing animals.
Yes, my drawing “assignment” this morning (taken from Barrington Barber’s Fundamentals of Drawing) was to try sketching a few different animals. I’m not good at drawing animals, but that’s beside the point right now. Later on, in another post, I’ll share a few of the animals in my sketchbook, and we’ll have a good laugh together. You’ll understand immediately why I went searching Amazon for books on how to draw animals.
OK, I’ll show you one of my animals. It’s recognizable, I think. I mean, surely you can tell that this is a giraffe, right?
And here is the reference illustration from Barber’s book. This was the image I was instructed to copy. So, you see, I had the right idea… just not quite the right execution.
Now, never mind the out of proportion neck. I could have fixed that problem. Really, I could have worked a bit more on this image and made it much more proportionally accurate. That neck was the least of my problems. What really had me bamboozled — on this and the other drawings I copied — was how to even draw the most basic shapes involved when various body parts were hidden by other body parts.
I finally just gave up on the giraffe. Poor thing has only three legs. Drawing isn’t easy for me, and trying to figure out how to draw one leg around another… or anything, really, where I’m placing one thing in front of something else — always gives me problems.
Even in my still life drawings, you’ll see that I’m not good at placing objects in groups where a shape is partly obscured by another. My drawing skill is so limited that even though I understand what I’m looking at, I’m not sure how to draw it accurately.
So this morning, as I browsed through books about drawing animals, I came across the technique of “Drawing Through”. This is the term used by Melissa Washburn in “Draw Like an Artist: 100 Realistic Animals“. In a helpful tip, she writes:
When drawing shapes for things like legs, get in the habit of drawing the complete form, even if it overlaps or will be hidden by another part of the animal. This ensures that you will draw the full shape accurately and not accidentally distort it by trying to fit it around the other forms.
She shares this illustration and explains that it’s important to understand the placement of features we can’t see.
It is a simple technique, and again, I’m sure all of you reading this already knew the importance of “drawing through”. For me, though, it was a revelation, another little tip that will help me improve my drawing.
So, indeed, I learned something today, and that makes me very happy.