When I was in college I heard a specific adjective used again and again to describe my work: Mushy. Webster’s definition: “Soft and pulpy”. In other words, I used six or seven sketchy lines when one was enough, I oversimplified my contours, my values were messy, etc. I was thinking on my paper instead of in my head. Since then, I’ve been on a quest to “sharpen” my drawing skills.
One of the biggest inspirations in accomplishing my goal has been the work of Ray Harris-Ching, New Zealand bird artist. Here are a few of his sketches:
He is a master at capturing minute detail without sacrificing the overall values of the form. I struggle to capture these basic values (highlight, halftone, core-shadow, etc.) when they’re hidden beneath a web of feather patterns. So I practice. Yesterday I sketched a curlew, beginning with the contours:
Already my drawing looks over-simplified when compared to the sketches of Ray Harris-Ching! To finish I drew in the intricate feather pattern, shaded the form, and darkened any details that fell into shadow (in that order). Here’s my final sketch:
And now here's a side-by-side of mine (turned black and white) and one of Raymond Ching's so you can compare the level of detail:
His ability to capture minute shifts in contours and value contrast wins against mine hands down. You can only draw as well as you can see, so I'll keep working on seeing that hyper-detail. Until next time!