Drawing Tips to Improve Your Art

Headshot Artistically, I’m not in what you’d call a rut. If I had the time to sit in my studio and make art, I would—make art that is. But that doesn’t mean I’m not looking for a new direction. I am constantly battling the fine line between having a recognizable artistic style and, well, boring myself. Sure, I want people to see a piece of my art and say, “Ah, that looks like a Jenn Mason original.” However, I don’t want people to necessarily know what I’m going to do next. Which is why I was so happy to get a sneak peek at Gwen Hedley’s new book, Drawn to Stitch.

Gwen offers a ton of fascinating techniques and processes for altering paper and fabric but what really sang to me (very loudly), was her chapter: Interpreting Line Quality: Drawing and Stitching. The format in this chapter was to list the design references, the observations made, the drawing approaches, and the stitch techniques used. I decided to give myself an assignment on a recent weekend getaway to Portland, Maine and this is what I came up with:

dark-wood-pic   dark-wood-posterize   dark-wood-sketch
Design Reference   Digital Observations   Drawing Approach

First I took photos. I was trying to look places I wouldn’t normally look for inspiration, and for me, that meant down. A couple of these photos are hardwood floors, one is a cement shot and the last is a photo of the shadow of our bikes on our bike rack—I was enjoying the beautiful weather and the way the bike silhouette changed as we drove by gravel driveways, wildflowers and long grasses.

light-wood-pic   light-wood-posterize   light-wood-sketch
Design Reference   Digital Observations   Drawing Approach

After I took the photos, I messed around with them on the computer using photo editing software. You don’t need anything expensive to do this. Just play with Brightness and Contrast and see what happens. I also turned the photos to black and white images and then played with a posterization option in my software. These were my digital observations. My goal was to distort the image enough that I only captured it’s essence. This is similar to the technique of looking at a piece of work upside down to check your composition.

Numbers-pic   Numbers-posterize   Numbers-sketch
Design Reference   Digital Observations   Drawing Approach

My next step was to start sketching. Unlike Gwen, my art isn’t likely to become a stitched work of fiber art, but these sketches could lead to backgrounds, image transfers, stencils or maybe even a pattern for some new punch-needle embroidery that I’m hoping to play with later this summer. Who knows. What I do know is that I’ve been able to add to my list of tricks by investigating one artist’s methods of discovery.

bike-pic   bike-posterize   bike-sketch
Design Reference   Digital Observations   Drawing Approach

I would love to hear about your process of reference, observation and artwork completion. Feel free to leave us your thoughts here in the comments section of the blog. And if you’d like to learn more from Gwen and her process, order your copy of Drawn to Stitch!

Cheers,

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