Clancy’s 5 tips for drawing crowds

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, creative thinking, sketchbook, visual thinking

I’ve been so busy with other projects that I can’t talk about in public yet that I’ve not had time – not even 5 spare minutes – to work on my Time Tavern sketchbook. So to come up with a blog post update today I flipped through my sketchbook/commonplace book.

Crowds of characters feature prominently in one of my can’t-talk-about-it-much-yet projects – and are also part of my Time Tavern sketchbook too.  So as part of my work on these projects one afternoon, a month or so ago, I went through several of my art technique books to refresh my technical skills for drawing crowds. I wrote the various relevant pointers as well as my own thoughts in my sketchbook.

Here below is a picture of  my sketchbook page.

CrowdDrawingTips72

In case you can’t read my handwriting I’ll type it here – and tweak the text I wrote by hand in my book, based on my recent experience in drawing crowds for my various projects:

Five Crowd Drawing Tips:

  1. Start at the front of the crowd. Do the figures with the most detail that are upfront/closer. The looser and less detailed characters will read as “in the distance”. Try to capture the type of characters within the overall scene as that gives the viewer the flavor of the event/place.
  2. Focus on the crowd shape as a whole. See the crowd as a single abstract shape – or as several shapes put together. Select where to put the details so as to guide the viewers eye around the crowd-shape(s).
  3. Keep it within a perspective. Is the viewer standing within the same level as the people in the front of the crowd? Or viewing the crowd from above or below?  You won’t see the characters in the back of the crowd unless you are in an elevated position.  Find a character of “average height” to use as a measuring gauge for placing the other characters. Use the average height as a natural horizon line and/or an assist in creating the crowd shape.
  4. Use characters arms, bags, objects held, angle of the head and other elements as a way of showing movement and guiding the viewers eye around the crowd shape.
  5. Crowds will have a main set of colors – like at a sporting event, though maybe not that extreme – it is possible, helpful even, to lay down areas of color within the crowd shape and add details over that. Color placement can help move the viewers eye. If one particular character is the focal point or stands out in the crowd then use the most color and detail on them and leave the others more or less implied. The main set of colors within the crowd shape can guide the colors used within the setting/scene around the crowd too.

 

finding artistic inspiration

A Creative Life, art techniques, commonplace book, food for thought, pattern design, sketchbook, visual story

People tend to think of “wealth” as things they have yet to acquire rather than things they already have. Similarly people think of “artistic inspiration” as some grand life-changing event rather than a learned-and-practiced way of looking at ordinary life.

I had an art professor in college who would talk, after class was over, of various practical aspects of the business of being a professional artist. He would say “If you can’t find artistic inspiration, something utterly fascinating to you, something you are curious about exploring using art techniques, in your own room, in your own yard, in your own life – then you won’t last long as an artist. So collect every inspiration you have, keep careful notes of what piques your interest no matter how small, protect and pursue these interests passionately, and you’ll have a life-long career as an artist.”

Here’s a fascinating pattern I found in my backyard – which I’m “keeping” for some unknown-at-this-moment future use.

A fascinating pattern I saw of white dew "dots" on larger green clover "dots" on a darker green-brown ground.

A fascinating pattern I saw of small white dew “dots” on larger green clover “dots” on a darker green-brown ground.

 

from the coffee table book

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, ebook, sketchbook, visual story, words and pictures, writing

I’ve been working towards an upcoming fine art exhibit at Caplan Art Designs; writing an exhibit statement, compiling an inventory list, writing promo materials.  You’d be amazed at how much writing there is in this “visual” art field.  I also have to write a speech to give during the opening reception.  One of the things I plan to talk about is how I take notes, do drawings in my sketchbook and then how those thoughts are transformed into my fine art. It seemed easier to post somewhere (besides randomly on this blog or on Twitter) some of my actual sketchbook pages so people could see for themselves what I’m talking about.  So I made an eBook that collects my sketchbook pages – particularly pages that relate to artwork that will be in the exhibit. It is titled “Coffee Table Book” (http://my.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book) – and this book is best viewed on a smart phone or tablet with the portrait orientation lock on.

Here are a few pages from Coffee Table Book:

InspiringSoup72CamusSugarSaltadj72DinersDining72

from the books of Bob

ebook, fine art, illustration, sketchbook, writing

“Feelings are guides not gods.” – Dr. Bob Hoke

When I was in art school – and shortly after graduating – I tried wood sculpture, metal sculpture and pottery. I had a “story” of myself as a 3D sculptor. I soon noticed in each of those artistic disciplines that there were times where I was less than enthusiastic about my work. I didn’t “feel like working at it” and I was focusing on and treating this feeling of “I don’t wanna” as if it were a deity to be worshiped/obeyed/disobeyed. At the time I thought I had to “fix my attitude”, force myself to continue, and I struggled with it. I talked to Bob about this issue during one of our many lunches * and he said the quote mentioned above and told me something similar to the following story (which is excerpted from a book I’m now working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”):

MAureliusHokes3rdLawActuallySeeFeelingsAsGod

So I examined my feelings (lived with the question a while) by keeping notes in my journal/sketchbook over the next month: I noticed that I loved to design the sculptures on paper and I loved the design process. I even loved the end result of the created sculpture, what I did not love was the process of creating the sculpture; the sawdust, splinters, sparks, the weight of the welding mask on my head and the fumes from pottery glazes and kilns/ovens. Those were the things I “didn’t wanna” deal with and would avoid by thinking of “other things to actually do” besides what needed to be done to finish the project. Turned out that my overall stick-to-it-and-persist attitude was just fine – all I needed to do was remove the media-elements that I so strongly disliked, that I had temporarily allowed to rule my desire to create. My feelings thus guided me to my present art media preference – cut paper collage.  Which is not sculpture, nor the story of myself as a creator of really large 3D works, but turns out to “fit” the real me best. With my cut paper medium I still enjoy designing something in the dimensional sense: figuring out what physical piece connects to what, which layers over what. I love the end fine art product – for examples see www.sueclancy.com – and now I love the process of creating too because there are no splinters, sparks or fumes! The most I risk is a paper cut, or a glue-y mess – and all of those things I can live happily with!

*See also the result of these lunch-time meetings- the ebook: “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program – First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

from the Books of Bob

ebook, fine art, sketchbook, writing

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” – Dr. Bob Hoke

When I’m beginning a new piece of artwork I make thumbnail sketches, I write notes and doodles in my sketchbook, I make small studies, I make to-scale drawings, I draw, draw and re-draw before arriving at something that “works”. Then what “works” is redrawn and refined until it not only works but works well. (Then I dye handmade paper and pattern it … but never mind about that part just now.) When I start any effort the above quote by Dr. Bob Hoke serves me well. I do not have to make a perfect drawing right off the start. I don’t even have to have a perfect drawing by the end of the day’s work session. All I have to do is one line, one stroke, one effort at a time and trust myself that eventually I will have something that works well. And even if I don’t I will have made an honest effort. Ironically by being willing to do poorly, by focusing on my working process, I relax and thereby increase the likelihood that my project will progress pleasantly and ultimately become something my agents, galleries or clients will call a “success”.  And my willingness to enthusiastically do poorly to the very best of my ability and have fun “just making a mess” has become my definition of “something worth doing”. And that, to me, is “success”.

The above quote by Dr. Bob Hoke is included in the ebook “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” http://my.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit – I’ve decided that in addition to my sketchbook pages (such as those from my Oregon Coast sketchbook) I’ll post bits from the “First Aid” ebook here on this blog – and I’ll also start posting pages from a new book effort I’m working on titled “The Artist and the Psychiatrist”.

And here is a photo of me working on a to-scale drawing….

DrawingStevesComm

 

Gullfriends

art exhibit, art gallery, commonplace book, ebook, fine art, published art, sketchbook

When I exhibit my artwork (as I did recently at the Caplan Art Designs gallery www.caplanartdesigns.com) I try to explain how my life inpires my artwork. Being more “visual” rather than verbal it’s easier for me to talk about this via pictures: as I go through life I draw and write in a sketchbook. Like the pages you see in this blog – or like this page here:
3at72

Then I use that sketchbook page as “inspiration” for some fine art piece like this one titled “Gullfriends”:
Gullfriends72

And I’ve recently done an ebook titled “Coffee, Table, Book” that (I hope) shows even more direct links between my sketchbook pages and the fine art I create. You can see info about the book here:

http://my.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book

So you see, gullfriends, life is an art…

coffee, table, book

commonplace book, ebook, published art, sketchbook

I’ve been working on an ebook titled “Coffee, Table, Book”. This book directly relates to my upcoming exhibit at Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com (opening May 7th!) but it’s also about my artwork in general – and very much like the pages I’ve been posting here on this blog. Here’s what the cover looks like:

FrontCoverEbook72w

It’s an artist monograph about my humorous fine artwork; a visual story of how I take ordinary life and make it into fine art, showing the connection between my sketchbook drawings, collected thoughts and my whimsical artwork – all of which are inspired by coffee, food on tables and stuff written in printed books…and this is an ebook… (You know I like word-play right?)

While parts of this book may resemble a cookbook, a book of quotations, a book of humorous art, a book about art history or any other sort of slick glossy coffee table book – that resemblance is purely accidental – it is really a story-peek inside this artist’s mind and the whimsical fine art that comes from it.

In addition to the risk of sharing my sense of humor part of what’s risky is that this book is art-image heavy and not all eBook readers will handle the color images of my artwork and my sketchbook pages.  But my ebook will be available for all kinds of devices; iPads, Androids etc. so hopefully it’ll be fun to view an “art book” via such devices.

At any rate – here goes: The ISBN number is 9781483553566 – starting now and in the coming weeks this book will start being available at the iBookstore, Amazon and wherever ebooks are sold. Here’s a start: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book  Remember, you saw it here first!