All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Watts Atelier_Head Phase I_Skull, 3/4 view

Once again, I'm having fun drawing Skulley II.
This assignment is fun, the 3/4 view is a more relaxed view to draw.

Off to a decent start, while Skulley II looks on...
He seems fairly happy...

I started by blocking in big shapes, then working my way smaller and smaller.
Then I bounced back and forth between details and large, general shapes.

Laying in major shapes, and beginning to map shadow shapes.
Then, as I mapped out the shadow shapes, I laid in light areas of tone to separate light from shadow.
In the end, I laid in many areas of different value, still being careful to avoid getting overly caught up in rendering.

Mapping shadows and edges, filling in some tone.

 To finish off, I went back and revisited the linework with 2B and 4B, and strengthed the major overlapping lines.
At the very end I also knocked a couple dark areas back a bit - they were a touch too strong.

Almost there...
 I'm fairly pleased with this exercise, and I know I will come back to it again - and again!
The final study. Skull, 3/4 View,Wolff's Carbon pencil 2B/4B on newsprint.

Pigment Pandas at the Devil's Backbone... Plein Air fun...

Yesterday's trip with DIS Plein Air Club - affectionately calling ourselves Pigment Pandas - took us to Devil's Backbone (west of Loveland.) It was well worth the trip... even though, with my late start, I easily spent twice as much time driving as painting. Still, in the course of an hour or two, I was able to get a quick study, and take some photos.
And what a cool place! You can see from the pictures, it is simply breathtaking.  
Can you see it? Can you spot the human skull?

On the way up, I saw a rock formation that - to me - looked like a profile of a human skull. I'm glad I took a couple photos, because on the way back, the light had changed, and it sure didn't look like that any more. LOL
NOW can you see it?

The Keyhole, where we were situated, is a very scenic spot,
very popular for photographs.
My main focus, given the limited time, was to work quickly, and not waste time on extraneous details.
I picked the view that had the highest initial 'Woo' factor (when you look at something and go: "Woo!") and got down to it.
I picked my view....

...and got to painting!
Clay paints while the rest of us keep a lookout
for Rohirim and Imperial Walkers...

And here's the final study.
Devil's Backbone Gouache, 9x12"
There was lots of great scenery, very other-worldly... yes, almost Tolkien-esque...
On the way back, Preston hears Warg Riders approaching...
Hm... looks like a good spot to build a hobbit-hole...
View along the ridge... and this is just one section...
Alpaca sighting near the trailhead....

The area is very scenic. I definitely want to return to this area for more drawing, painting, and photos. Plus, it's just a cool area to be. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More fun with SKULLEY II! Watts Atelier_Skull, Profile View

Having more fun with skulls! And tomorrow is Halloween, so I'm totally in the mood.
This is a fun assignment. One of my all-time favorite pieces is Nature's Design, and I enjoyed revisiting a side view skull.
 Of course, Skulley II is different than the original Skulley, so I had to pay attention - no falling back on memory for this assignment. And for that reason, I chose to do the reverse angle profile view. They each have their own 'personality.' Skulls... go figure. ;)
Off to a decent start.

One thing I learned the first time around, is that
the skull is quite a bit longer (front to back)
than one might expect.
Once again, I employed varied line quality to give the skull some 'weight' and help the drawing 'read' better. I really am grateful to have picked up a few things from Scott Robertson along the way. Not only does it harken back to my days as a technical illustrator, but the principles cross over very well to fine art drawing.
The finished (for now) assignment.
Skulley II, Profile View
Wolff's Carbon pencil 2b, 4B on newsprint

I added some light tone to the shadow areas, that ended up becoming not-so-light-tone... lol. I like the way a drawing looks when the shadows are mapped in, just before beginning to turn the form.

There are some things I am happy with, and others I would change if I were to do it over again (which, of course, I will....)
 Fun times.
Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Watts Atelier_Skull, Front View

And now for one of my favorite subjects: Skulls!!!
I had a very productive weekend, and got into Skull Front View. It seemed only fitting, since we are coming up on Halloween, and I have always loved to draw skulls – not the scary, tattoo-with-flames type of skulls, but the realistic ones. So you can imagine how excited I am for this assignment!
(Yeah, I’m old-fashioned.)
Welcome back, Skulley II!
Since I have my own skull – and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want one? – I used it instead of the photo reference provided in the class materials.
With the exercises in Head Lay-Ins, it made the drawing process quicker and more solid. 
The drawing in progress.
I did employ some varied line work to help the drawing 'read' better. I resisted the temptation to render, but I still put in a solid layer of light tone over the shadow areas, just to help myself visualize what was going on. Plus it really 'brings it together.'

The finished assignment.
Wolff's Carbon pencil 2B and 4B
on newsprint, approx. 8x10" image size
This was a FUN assignment! :)

Watts Atelier_Head Phase I - Basic head lay-ins

This is an interesting approach to drawing the head, unlike what I have been taught in the past.
Between the head lay-ins (Riley-method style) the Asaro heads, and the Abstractions (that really has my interest piqued) I should learn a whole bunch. It's fascinating and fun to learn new things about something I thought I knew a lot about already. ;)
I liked watching Jeff demonstrate what can be done with the Lay-In construction method once it is memorized and mastered. I'm looking forward to getting this under my belt. :)
Basic head construction Lay-Ins; 3/4 view

Basic head construction Lay-Ins;
Front, 3/4, and Profile views/

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Watts Atelier_Drawing Fundamentals II_Building Objects with Basic Forms

I have been working on the Drawing Fundamentals II assignment Building Objects With Basic Forms.
I really looked forward to the process, setting up the still life with objects that have been lying around begging to be drawn.
The setup.
I really enjoyed the drawing process. Still working on getting comfortable with holding the pencil in an overhand grip, I focused on getting the drawing down, 'drawing through' the forms, and mapping out the major shadow areas.

When it came to filling in the shadows with tone, I may have gotten carried away. (That seems to be happening a lot with these assignments.) I began turning the form, and rendering the image, bit by bit. It wasn't the main point of the assignment, but it was okay to take it a step farther.

After drawing the forms and mapping the shadow shapes.
Everything was going great, until I leaned a little too heavily on the drawing table. I looked up just in time to see the chicken timers sliding toward the edge of the books, and before I could react, the whole setup came crashing down into my lap.
Filling in shadows, and beginning rendering.
Lesson learned: set up the still life on a surface that will not be disturbed. Or, if I do set it up attached to the drawing table, be vary careful not to lean too heavily.

The final stage of the drawing, before the whole setup came crashing down...
It was probably for the best. I think I'll be better off to move on to the next assignment than to spend too much time rendering this image. I can always keep working on it, or come back and revisit the setup later. 
My quick re-creation of the event.
"Abandon Ship!!!"

Heroic Life Drawing at DEAD Academy

Our model - the astounding aerial contortionist Grace Ramsey -
I have been attending as many life drawing sessions as possible. A couple interesting ones have come up, including Heroic Life Drawing at DEAD (Denver Entertainment Art and Design) Academy. The model is an acrobat, or more accurately an "Aerial Contortionist"

Gesture, sketch, sketch....

It was phenomenal! We were able to draw the human body in poses that were extremely unusual and exciting. Now I know what the human body would look like in flight! And it was fascinating to see the muscles stretch and bend, it gave me a much better understanding of just what the body is capable of, what the limits are, and what they look like.

The situation presented unusual problems - not only for the model (duh!) but for the artists as well.
First and foremost - finishing the pose, looking at the drawing and thinking "what the heck is that?"
Because the poses were short out of necessity, there were a lot of decisions to make, and very quickly.
Most  of the decisions involved what to leave out. By focusing on one element, you are eliminating many others.

By focuing on just the gesture, I found that it was hard in some cases to tell what was going on - or that it was indistinguishable from a regular life drawing session.

So the issue very quickly became one of how to exploit the opportunity, and get it to read as a body suspended, in the small amount of time available.

Each pose presented its own set of unusual circumstances. Sometimes, the body, or a leg, arm, hand, or foot, was in a position that, when drawn, looked physically impossible. How do you draw what you see, and get it to read believably?

I remembered what Jeff Watts said about painting:
"It's part what you see;
Part what you know;
And part what you wished you saw."
That gave me all I needed to begin to make sense of the poses in the short amount of time available.
Still, I was only able to capture a small amount of the information.

Sketch, re-sketch...
Plus, to see the figure defying gravity is just... well, it's just plain cool.
Gesture, sketch, re-sketch...
I was torn between the desire to draw, the urge to take photos, and the tendency to just freak out at how awesome it all was.
My personal favorite were the poses with the drapery (think Cirque du Soleil.) Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the poses. I was too busy drawing. The good news is: I was busy drawing. ;)
Detail of re-sketch
The session went by quickly, and I came away with pages and pages and pages of drawings. Still, it was over too soon for me - but not for the model! She was incredible, and we all expressed our gratitude to be a part of an experience that was so unique and spectacular.

In the end, all I could think was:

The sketches, the reference photos, and the experience has inspired me to keep drawing and elaborating on the subject.