Art, reviews and thoughts from a young artist in Plymouth, UK.

Posts tagged ‘Sketchbooks’

100 Ways To (be) Home Ed

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About Me

I am Kitty and I am a young artist in Plymouth.  I am also home educated and I am writing this post about myself and about what it is like to be a home educated young person for the #100waystohomeed bloghop.  The last post was at Never The Same Two Days Running and the next post will be by @thepndmonster.

I have never been to school but most of my friends do go to school and we have lots in common.  We like a lot of the same things, like going into town, chatting to each other, and watching Netflix together.  We also study some of the same subjects, like English and Art.  We all have to work and study and do housework at home, the main difference in our lives is that in school my friends have to do specific subjects according to a set timetable, whereas I have a choice of what I want to study and my timetable is quite flexible.  So for example while they go to school every Monday to Friday (in term time) from early morning to late afternoon, some days I don’t do a lot of study and instead I play games or go to events and exhibitions or maybe just hang out with other home ed friends.  However, on busy days I might work from the morning until late evening, I often have work to do at weekends, and for me school holidays are usually even busier than term time!

Another thing I have in common with young people who go to school is that we all have goals in our lives, like going to college or university, having a career we enjoy, and growing up to be happy and satisfied adults.  My own goals are to study Graphics, Illustration and Game Arts at Plymouth College of Art, to sell my artwork and meet lots of other artists and illustrators, and to find work in concept and character design in the video games industry.  Just like young people in schools, I have to work hard so that I can achieve my goals, but instead of focussing on GCSE exams in lots of different subjects, as a home educated person I can focus my time on building the skills I enjoy and I know I will definitely need.

I don’t tend to study different subjects every day, but I do have things that I do most days.  On a typical day, for example, I start with working on my art skills.  Starting with drawing helps me warm up to the day and to relax.  Usually I will do a 30 minute character sketch in pencil from my imagination or following a prompt (I like using artprompts.org), or I work on a previous sketch, inking it or colouring it.  After that, I work hard on my English Language study, because I have an assessment coming up at the Art college.  This is quite hard because although I think I have okay English skills (I read and write a lot!) I am not used to working towards an exam or having to answer those sorts of questions.

I spend quite a bit of the rest of my day doing art things, for example I work on projects to learn new techniques like printing, linocutting and costume making.  I do a lot of sketching in my sketchbooks (I have several which I use for different purposes), and I follow online courses and books full of tutorials.  The online courses I am following at the moment include one on drawing backgrounds, one on pixel art, and another on figure drawing and human anatomy.  The art books I work from and study include Keys To Drawing, Making Comics, and Urban Watercolor Sketching.  I think I probably spend a few hours most days either doing art or reading about art, and I follow other artists and illustrators on Twitter and Instagram to see what they are doing and to participate in online projects like #inktober and #dailysketch.  Studying art includes studying history, culture, anatomy, technical skills with different materials and software, psychology, and all sorts of other subjects.

I also try and keep track of current events and read articles especially anything to do with art and games, and especially local things like what the college is doing, or exhibitions and events that are happening.  I like to take part in things that are happening in Plymouth and its important to me to support local artists and to be part of the community.  I write about some of the events and places which I go to on this blog but I go to so much more than I have time to write about!  In the past few weeks I’ve been to a contemporary music concert, a performance by a folk band, an Open Day at the arts college, an exhibition of ‘upcycled’ skateboards, an exhibition about the Titanic, the Eden Project, a vintage toys exhibition, an exhibition about plastic dumped at sea, and more.  Today is Sunday and later I am going to a research performance where the audience will influence the soundtrack.  Going to all these different events expands my view on the world and what is possible as an artist.

Most days I also read fiction, at the moment mostly I am reading comics and manga but I do enjoy novels as well, especially funny ones.  I listen to music (all sorts, from game soundtracks to Britpop to Japanese pop and metal) and I practice playing my guitar.  I chat to my friends and if I can’t see them in person we talk online using Skype and Whatsapp.  At the end of the day I try to always write a bit in my journal and sometimes I read or draw in bed, or watch a film.  My About Me illustration at the top of this post gives more details about the things I enjoy.

As well as all this, every week I go to kickboxing twice (I have earned my Junior Black Belt!), I have either a guitar or a drum lesson, and I go to a local coding/tech club for young people.  I also go every week to a home ed activity group and a home ed social group, I’m a member of the National Art & Design Saturday Club and I go to two Youth Clubs.  I’m quite busy most days!  I don’t see myself just as a student but I also think of myself as a working artist and blogger and I hope to help the organisations and adults I meet to take young artists and writers seriously and see how we are part of the community too.  Although I do work hard at art and writing this part of my life can be really difficult as I am quite shy in person and often I am the only (or one of a small number) of young people at an event.  I can struggle with what to say as I worry about saying something that will be embarrassing    whereas when I am blogging or tweeting I have time to think and edit before I say something.  I take a sketchbook everywhere I go and that helps because if I’m nervous I can draw and that comforts me.

I could write so much more about the things I do as a home educated young person.  For example I also am learning to make games using Scratch, I am learning about electronics and coding using my Shrimp and Raspberry Pi, and I am trying to start a band!  I participate in game jams and create and publish video games with my brother.  I go to comics and science fiction conventions and I like to do cosplay.  I play with my little sister and sometimes we draw together, and I am used to spending time with kids of all different ages in our home ed groups.  My life is so full, but I do make time to relax and see my friends.

I hope that reading this has helped give an insight on what it is like to be home educated.  In some ways of course it is different to going to school but that doesn’t mean that we don’t study or have social lives.  We all have goals and worries just like any other young people, and we all have interests and are passionate about them.  If any other home ed young people are reading, please add me on Twitter or Instagram, and if you are a young artist in Devon or Cornwall add me too and maybe we can meet up sometime!

THANK YOU FOR READING!  Please remember to check out the other blogs on this bloghop and learn more about how different families do home education.

Keys to Drawing Chapter 2

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Practicing copying and emulating master artists (Matisse and Rembrandt)

Chapter 2 of Keys to Drawing (link to my post on Chapter 1) is about the Artist’s Handwriting, which is the personal style an artist draws in.

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.

Practicing copying and emulating master artists (Kollwitz)

Practicing copying and emulating master artists (Kollwitz)

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. 20160713_151143

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
  • Copy
  • Emulate
  • Experiment with media and techniques
  • Use your eraser and your bare hand as drawing tools

Keys to Drawing Chapter 1

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Keys to Drawing and my sketchbooks for the projects

Late last year I began to work on my observational skills using the book Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson.  He says in the introduction that “drawing is primarily a process of seeing”, and each chapter has several projects with ‘keys’ to practice that are basically guidelines or rules to help improve drawing. The first chapter is about the drawing process and an important thing I learned was to have a rhythm in my head to ‘look, hold, and draw’.  Here are some of the drawings I made during this chapter:

The Keys covered in Chapter 1 are:

  • “Use practical dialogue” – talk to yourself about the lines and shapes you see, e.g. ‘the line is this long’, ‘this shape touches that one’ etc.
  • “Use triggering words” – repeat words to yourself that make you think about the subject e.g. ‘soft, soft’ or ‘sharp’.
  • “Draw blind” – practice drawing while looking at the subject instead of the paper for short bursts of time.
  • “Restate” – when you feel out forms by making more accurate lines alongside first attempts instead of erasing.
  • “Choose seeing over knowing” – ignore your mental image of what you think something should look like and instead draw EXACTLY what you see.
  • “Individualise” – be curious about everything you draw as if you have never seen it before, appreciate that each subject is unique.
  • “Simplify shapes” – draw in ‘the language of shapes’, not things.  Squint to simplify shapes.
  • “Look for shapes” – Bert Dodson gives four rules to identify shapes:
    • draw large shapes first, then small ones.
    • look for ‘enrichment shapes’ like highlights, shadows, textures..
    • tie shapes together (merge or connect shapes).
    • draw ‘trapped shapes’ (negative spaces).
  • “Focus” – concentrate on interesting areas and feel free to leave some areas unfinished.

Before I started, I hadn’t done much observational work, but this first chapter really helped me to get going.  The writing is very relaxed and easy to understand, and Bert Dodson has a kind approach.  Each project built my skills a little bit more and they were mostly enjoyable.

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