Friday, 29 October 2010

Sometimes you have to look long and draw fast!

Volissos Fishing Boat (Pastel 19.5" x 25.5")
I don't know if you've ever had a go at drawing boats but their 'architecture' and the way perspective works is a bit different to buildings!

I was reminded of this while accompanying Sarah Wimperis and her husband around the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition (see my REVIEW: Royal Society of Marine Artists - 65th Annual Exhibition 2010)

Listening to "Big Dave" tell me about which boats had NOT been drawn or painted by people who understood boats convinced me that we shouldn't try to "hack it" when drawing boats.  Just like wildlife or flowers we should always take some time out to work out how they are put together and what makes them work.

It seemed to me that careful observation is probably the key.

I was then reminded of an experience I had in Chios, a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea, back in 1995.  I was staying in Volissos and we were drawing fishing boats down in Limnos harbour.  Or rather I was trying to draw fishing boats.  I was having one of those experiences where you gradually begin to understand this is a LOT more difficult than it looks and that I had attempted a subject I didn't understand - and I was making a complete pig's ear out of it.

Before lunch I decided I needed to do something to make sure that it hadn't been a completely wasted morning - and to see whether I'd learned anything. 

I took a complete sheet of what was known in those days as Rembrandt Pastel Card and drew just one boat "up close and personal" in pastels. 

The trick was I didn't think too much about what I was looking at but rather tried to observe closely and use what I'd learned in terms of the big shapes and proportions and basic structure of a boat.  I got it very nearly right (it bulges a wee bit too much on the right hand side!) and I think drawing on a big sheet also helped.

The drawing at the top was actually completed in 20 minutes - at the end of which I seemed to have produced a boat which was not immediately about to fall over and sink! :)  Honour was redeemed.  It would appear that the whole morning had not been a lost cause and that maybe I had learned something.


bridget Hunter said...

I agree so much - boats are so incredibly difficult - and any mistake is so obvious. Congratulains on this lively drawing which is very 'boatish'!

vivien said...

Yes, their forms are really quite complex and need a lot of observation - especially if you know very little about boats like me :>)

Nice lively drawing I agree

Sarah said...

Great drawing, I shall show mr boatman! I suppose it all goes to illustrate how important looking properly and not assuming really is. Sometimes it takes an unfamiliar subject to remind us of that!

Jeanette Jobson said...

Boats do seem like these simple shapes but when drawing them they become a lot more complex.

Spending the time to really observe pays off in spades.

Laura Frankstone said...

Love the oomph in this one! Your palette is stunning and your marks are bold. Moira Huntly has a very good little book out on drawing and painting boats, by the way.