Breaking back into Drawing

I’m thinking about using the blog format to help me be productive with the art stuff.  If other people can see if I’m being productive or not, maybe it will help push me to draw and/or paint.  I decided to draw today because it’s actually easier for me than painting…and I needed to lower the entry barrier.

Today I finally got tired of balking on drawing the little tomatillo I had picked up especially to draw.  I’m like, “what am I afraid of?  What’s the worst that can happen?  I won’t like the drawing?”  So I gave it a go.  This is my first study:

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tomatillo-1 by paintedstone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I think that in reality, the stem was shorter.  (But no one is going to know that unless I tell them, right?)  🙂

There was a lot of squinting to try and read values as I saw them as versus as I drew them.  On the first one, at least, I think I got them pretty close.  Both of these drawings are in Cretacolor Monolith graphite sticks on a Maruman NEW SOHO series, Sketch pad.  I think the size is B5…but I’m not sure.

If you’re wondering about Maruman (I wouldn’t expect this to be a well-known brand in my circles)…I picked up this pad at a Japanese stationery store which is also known for its art supplies.  (It wasn’t cheap, though I must have taken the price tag off of it.)  The same place also sells Kuretake Tambi pan watercolors…but I can get to that, later.

I have yet to use this pad for anything other than what I did, today…but with graphite, the texture comes out really nicely.  Erasing an overworked area by rubbing with a soft putty eraser will kind of kill that, though.  (I may try dabbing instead, next time, to see if I can keep some of the texture and avoid sliding the graphite into the white areas.)  The pad does say that it’s suitable for watercolor, but I have yet to see if this is true.

The only thing I might protest to that came up today, is that in the future I may try and use a shitajiki (pencil board) underneath the drawing I’m making, so as not to dent the pages beneath.  A shitajiki is basically a slightly flexible sheet of plastic which helps protect the rest of the pages in a pad or notebook from becoming indented due to drawing or writing pressure on the top sheet.

I have at least one or two of these — somewhere — from the Japanese bookstore I go to on occasion, but they’re probably collector’s items, now, because of what was printed on them (one had scenes from an early episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion; I can’t remember whether the other one was Sailormoon or CardCaptor SakuraI’m pretty sure it was something that was trying to be cute, though.  😉

I could also mitigate the denting-underlying-pages problem by using a softer stick, rather than pressing more firmly with a harder one.

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tomatillo-2 by paintedstone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The above is the second study I did, because the first one came out well and I was planning to walk away:  then I questioned myself as to why.  So I pushed myself to try and do another rendition of this, especially since I’ve had this tomatillo for so long that it’s starting to brown.  😛

When I was starting this out I was like, “aw, man, this looks awful.  Maybe I should stop.”  But I pushed myself to keep going, remembering the lessons I had learned in Figure Drawing, going from basic shapes, to adding detail, to shadow-mapping.  First I had to plot a circular shape, then determine the center mark where the stem comes out and all the veins run to.  I redrew the veining a number of times, though it isn’t totally apparent in the finished drawing.  Erasing was minimal on this second drawing, though I did take out some of my guidelines.

I’m actually rather surprised at this drawing, because I was struggling so much with it at an early stage, and it actually may have come out more aesthetically pleasing than the first one.  The thing that I think may not have translated is the texture of the lantern-like husk on the outside of the tomatillo.  It’s really very angular, and because I was trying to achieve a likeness in form, a lot of the crispness of the husk got edited out.  The crispness does come through in the second piece more than in the first, though.

I also took a bunch of little tomatillo photographs.  🙂  Like the pumpkin in my avatar, this little thing isn’t going to last forever.  Most of the things I’ve drawn and painted will not last, forever; a fact which I’m learning by having my drawing subjects expire (largely fruit and flowers), the weather change; I notice everyone aging, etc.  It seems sometimes like everything is moving toward entropy:  a reason why I have recently questioned whether I actually want to avoid having children.  I know my genes are messed up, but family life is nearly all I’ve known (aside from my short stint in the dorms).

Ah, right:  that Kuretake Tambi stuff I mentioned, earlier.  These are full-pan watercolors which come in a number of differently-sized sets.  They’re fairly expensive, as well.  I’m thinking that they’re meant to be used in Asian watercolor techniques, which is the reason for the full pan (sometimes one lays the length of the brush into the paint, in the methods I know of)…though I only know a little about traditional brush painting, from what I’ve read in the Library.

The reason I even mentioned them is that, about a week ago, I took the little set of Prangs I got to the hospital so that I could sketch while others were seen by specialists.  I was actually fairly disappointed with the handling properties of these and their tendency to muddy when any orange or red tone was used.  I’ve mentioned the weak (i.e. not brilliant) reds in this set before; I guess now I can extend that to oranges; and it is just a pain to put what appears to be a mostly-clean waterbrush into red, and get some weird dull color out of it because the red can’t stand up to anything that isn’t orange or yellow.

After having gone on a little hunt last semester to try and find a workable less-toxic orange, my mind draws a parallel between the orange in the Prang set and Winsor Orange.  Winsor Orange greys down extremely quickly when mixed, although it’s relatively nice when used on its own.  The orange I was attempting to use in the Prangs just muddied quickly.  This could be user error (glazing orange over green or blue), or it could be a pigment issue; as even mixed with green or blue, I would expect a clear neutral, not a weird grey-brown-Idon’tknowwhat.

That said, the Prangs do work, so long as I’m not mixing or glazing or working wet-into-wet, too much, which kind of severely limits my options.  But I am thinking, what do I expect for a $12 scholastic brand.  When not using any advanced techniques, though (as I wasn’t, as a kid), they are useful.

I do have a little Pocket set of Cotman half-pan watercolors…which I can try and use for field work; though as I think I’ve mentioned, after one has used professional-grade paint, the Cotmans really obviously fall short.  There are at least two colors in that line, though, that I may use with an open mind:  these are the Cadmium Hues, because they’re not as toxic as the real thing (and therefore have an upshot compared to the professional cadmium [CP] paints they’re replacing).  I’m not sure if it’s worth it to get into why cadmium salts are bad; I’ve written about it plenty of times, before.

But the Cotman (student) line contains less-expensive, less-toxic, less-highly-pigmented versions of paints which are otherwise available in more-expensive, more-toxic, more-highly-pigmented (professional) versions.  😛  My basic problem is that I may be spoiled on the real thing and hence not want to use the student-grade paints, if I can help it (though I think Grumbacher Academy is a decent line, from what I found in the stash from 2009 — I haven’t tried these fully yet, though, so take that with a grain of salt).

My major issue is trying to find a way to carry watercolors with me which doesn’t have me taking out the giant Mijello Silver Nano 40 palette (as my paints may not adhere to the wells, leaving me with 20 reliable wells), which has many small wells for many colors, an ample amount of mixing space, and which is compact enough to carry with, say, a B5 pad of paper.  I’m really at this point not sure I’m going to find the perfect palette anywhere, unless I spring for the metal palettes filled with half-pan containers, which I’ve seen reviewed, but which I’ve never used.

Then again, maybe all I need to do is break-in the Nano; the surface does change a bit after it has been used to some degree.


Painting is relatively new to me; drawing is an old friend, though; so for me it’s much less intimidating to draw.  Right now, black-and-white is also relatively super easy as an entry point, as that’s what I’ve been doing for most of my drawing career.

Maybe I can try and move into the Progresso woodless colored pencils, and attempt to bridge out from there into Conté and pastel, and then into paint as the desire rebuilds itself.  (I keep doing this long enough, and it will; not even kidding.)

You know, I didn’t even think of it, but I can do some color thumbnail sketches for paintings in those dry media…


2 thoughts on “Breaking back into Drawing

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