"Why is it when we draw. sometimes the drawings just feel like we are just drawing and nothing is happening? You fill a sketchbook and you say, 'Okay..I filled a sketchbook but look, nothing's there. What's wrong?! Why isn't there anything happening here??' Part of it is that you are not making judgments when you are looking at something. When ever you see something you need to be asking yourself questions". - Glen Keane
So what are those questions we should be asking when we look at something to draw? Glen Keane at a CalArts lecture gave an example of drawing at the zoo. We can draw a monkey at the zoo and then eventually the stereotype depictions of monkeys start creeping into our drawing. It might have some interest because of the pose of the monkey, but the problem is you are not making judgements about the monkey. How does the monkey before you make you feel?
If you observe his arms as looking wire-like but powerful that is information that should be influencing your drawing. Actually write "powerful" and "wire-like" on your paper to help keep that image or feeling on your mind as you draw.
The trick in getting drawings that express something, is to get in touch with what we observe emotionally rather than just what we can see literally.
Actors before they perform, like any other trained athlete do warmups before engaging in their action. It might help us too to do some warmups.
Free your mind a little and think on a more emotional state. Get some ice from your refrigerator and hold it in your hand with your eyes closed. What does it feel like?? What does COLD feel like? Sharp? Unpleasant? Unwelcoming? Whatever emotions you feel write that on your paper and then draw it as abstract shapes, rhythms or tones.
Okay, so how does this relate to drawing the figure??
When you draw the gesture (THE most important part of drawing), emotion is what should be root of what influence your line.
The pencil is not just an extension of your hand but also your mind and your heart. As the great martial artist Bruce Lee said, "Don't think! Feel!" Use the root of your emotions to guide your hand. Draw emotion not just information. Use your instinct.
This may sound esoteric or even poetic...but this is a mind exercise that is just as important as studying human proportions and anatomy when learning how to draw the figure. It will be hard at first....especially if you are not accustomed to making judgments, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you will be with it.
Below are my suggested artists to study:
Heinrich Kley :
Note the feeling of SICKNESS in this poor dragon. Have you ever felt this way before? Remember that feeling. Try drawing it.
Or perhaps you remember the feeling of PULLING something HEAVY. Draw it!
Remember that feeling of being SURPRISED?? Draw it!
I hope you din't fight, but if you are human you must have felt the feeling of ANGER and the wish to STRIKE physically. Don't shy away from that feeling. Use it. Draw it.
Not many of use have muscular proportions like a superhero, but you can feel the WEIGHT and POWER in this figure's back.
Have you ever felt VAIN before? We all have. Draw it!
Or LAZY on a weekend afternoon? Draw it!
I chose these examples for their looseness and purity. These are qualities that will help your drawings be more expressive rather than literal. Have fun! See you next time!