Foundations Friday 2: Feeling Edges

January 15, 2016 | 1 Comment

When I started to sketch seriously and look at art books for ideas and tips, I was fascinated by the seemingly conflicting approaches. Drawing instructors told me that I had to start at one point and move slowly to the next and then the next and so on, building a drawing up one line at a time. Painters told me that it was all about shapes – nothing else was important but shapes and their values. But as an architect I was used to thinking in terms of simple volumes and drawing with the use of perspective.

I realised that the big issue here was not simply lines, shapes and volumes, but different ways of seeing, different ways of visual thinking. So when I came up with the three phrases –  feeling edges, abstracting shapes and constructing volumes –  I felt that I now had a framework that made sense of these different approaches. The more I sketch, and the more I teach, the more I come back to this framework as my foundation. I am also increasingly convinced that the ability to switch between these three ways of visual thinking gives you the skills to sketch faster and be more flexible in your approach to various subject matters.

For this week I am revisiting my SketchingNow Foundations Lesson 2: Feeling edges. I had previously decided that I was going to spend a week drawing with continuous lines as an extension of the exercises that we looked at in the lesson and in particular to be focusing on the concept of relationship – the relationship of one edge to the next. This is topical because during my recent fountain pen sketching series, I realised that flex nibs seem to suit slow continuous line sketching better than fast rapid architect’s lines (my usual way of drawing.)

As I started sketching with continuous lines over the last few days, I started to think about the most comfortable pace for me to do these type of drawings. This sketch of a local house was done quite fast and loose. I also got a bit carried away with ‘sticking to the one single line’ rule – doing a lot of backtracking and using it for cross-hatching. I am not sure I will bother to do this again, but I was having fun!

When I finally got around to re-reading lesson 2’s handout while having my morning coffee on Wednesday morning, I remembered that this concept of finding your own pace was indeed an important part of the lesson. There were a lot of other things that were good to be reminded of as well –  there are so many different things to think about when ever we do a sketch, that I believe, revisiting basics is always helpful. But if I have to simplify it all to just two ideas for the week it would be: relationships and pace.

You can see here that my thought while I was drawing this latte with a continuous line and really focusing on the relationship of the saucer in relationship to the the glass rim was:

wonkiness increases as speed decreases 

I actually think that there are a lot of exceptions to this rule but it certainly applies to drawing ellipses at 7.30am in the morning in ink only! And if you have missed it previously, one of my (in)famous sayings is: Embrace the wonkiness. And to be honest, sometimes I struggle living up to my own rules, because after all, I am still an architect deep down!

You might have realised that I tried a slightly different continuous line technique yesterday – the continuous continuous line drawing – going around and around!  This certainly eased the ellipse fear!

Anyway, I think that’s enough for today except to finish off by saying that although I do like the look of continuous line sketches and believe that they a lot going for them (particularly for beginners who are drawing with hairy lines), I much prefer to sketch with my strong rapid architect’s lines and cross my corners!

What about you – how often do you draw with continuous lines?

If you missed it, the first in my Foundations Friday series is here.

SketchingNow Online Sketching Courses: Foundations Self Directed course start today!  


1 Comment

  • I mostly love drawing with continuous lines as I love the wonkiness and not perfect sketches! I naturally can’t draw perfect sketches ?! I also do blind contour sketches to increase speed and capture the essence of what I am looking at . For me like many others it’s to capture that moment in my sketch book as a remembrance!

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