Bert Dodson suggests there are two handwritings: A loose, fast and sketchy one and a slow, careful and precise one. The first, loose handwriting captures the spirit of the subject, and the second focused handwriting creates areas of sharper detail.
The next part of the chapter is an analysis of the drawings of several master artists, the ones I found most interesting were Matisse, Rembrandt, and Kollwitz. Dodson talks about the different handwritings of these artists and encourages you to try their techniques. The projects here are to closely copy these sketches “to experience the hand of the master” and then to emulate “the stroke and character” of the artist in your own original drawings of a similar subject. Dodson says that copying and emulating master artists is a “key to learning” to draw.
The next section involves practicing some “free handwriting” exercises including gesture drawing using a distant grip (holding the pencil loosely) and connected line drawing (keeping your pencil moving without lifting the entire time following the curves and lines of the subject). There is also the “five-minute burn”, when you draw exactly what you see in front of you for five minutes without stopping. I found connected line drawing useful to simplify a subject to it’s basic form. The five-minute burn is much more complicated because you’re trying to capture as much information as possible.
The chapter moves on to practice a close grip on the pencil and “control handwriting”. The projects here were to build tonal bars using pressure strokes and hatching strokes and to match the tones of a black and white photograph. There is then a project where you alternate between free and control handwriting within the same drawing.
The rest of the chapter is an introduction to using different types of media and also using erasing and rubbing (with tissue, fingers or paper stumps) in order to pick out lights, create sharp edges, reduce tone and soften details.
This chapter was more difficult than the first but I really enjoyed learning about the different artists and testing out different media. I particularly liked using pen and ink and I use it quite a lot now. I feel my skills really improved from working through this chapter.
The Keys covered in Chapter 2 are:
- Separate your ‘two handwritings’
- Free your hand
- Control your hand
- Experiment with media and techniques
- Use your eraser and your bare hand as drawing tools