Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Sketchbook Compilation

As the days of winter break draw to a close, so does my experience with the winter sketchbook. This was an amazing experience, one that would say with certainty that it has changed my life. The approach I had with my sketchbook wasn't to make the most detailed drawings of all time but to simply have my sketchbook with me wherever I went. I found that in doing so, the sketchbook became something of a documentation of my own life's experiences, a visual journal of the places I have been during this break. And looking through this sketchbook, I can say that I remember every single moment for all of the drawings I've done. Contrary to my sketchbook from my illustration class, I felt very stress-free and consistent with this one in terms of content. Granted, there are drawings that I don't like here, but every bad drawing is a learning experience, no?

This is a compilation of as much of the sketchbook I could scan. Some pages haven't been scanned due to time limitations, but I grabbed almost everything before I had to turn it in.

Anyhow, enjoy! I'll have some short notes on a few of them.

First page. On the way to SF!

Academy of science stuff. That dried piranha specimen looked stressed out as all the kids fondled it and stuck their fingers in all kinds of crevices. Poor thing. The jellyfish was originally a pen drawing that I didn't really like. Several weeks later I decided to go back and revisit it. It was my first time painting in color with gouache, and for a first time I'm pretty happy with how it came out.

Example of a page I didn't like too much. I ended up starting a drawing that had to be stopped a couple minutes later due to the bus arriving. After that, I learned that sometimes it is better to wait for the next opportunity to draw if there really is little time to actually sit down and observe.

Ah yes, the jigsaw dolphin.

This seems to be most people's favorite painting in my sketchbook. It was definitely a lot of fun to do, and I do think it is the strongest painting (ironically also the first one I did). After this painting, however, my painting process got a lot faster; instead of spending some 5-6 hours like I did with this one, my later painting studies were reduced to 2-3 hours.

I definitely did a lot more paintings during the beginning of the sketchbook. I am very much a tonal/color person so I really do like playing with such. However, I eventually realized that only doing still life studies would not only hamper on my ability to produce more pages, but would also limit the experiences of being able to go outside and draw. So you will notice a shift to more in-the-moment sketches, especially once I start going to the zoo.

I probably should have rescanned the page as there was a drawing beneath it, but I think this is definitely my personal favorite out of all of my paintings. I'm very happy with how the red strings and ribbon came out, and having the red sweep out of the image frame was something that I thought was cool.

Yeah, the line for Les Miserables was insanely long. This drawing doesn't do it justice. Great movie, by the way.

This one is an example of a case where, while I don't like the end product too much, there are aspects of it that I like because of what I learned from it. While the lighting is a little bit wonky in areas here, I really like what I was able to do with color movement here.

This is the point where I started shifting my focus towards sketching outside. Most of my sketches beforehand were done with ball-point pen. The main advantage of that was that it allowed me to work more "lightly" so I would have more wiggle-room for error. I had one rule for myself with this sketchbook: no pencils. I really wanted to nail down confidence and precision, thus the luxury of an eraser had to be given up. The lighter ball-point pens were a good beginner's way to sort of wean me off of erasers while allowing room for error, but you will notice a change in that as the sketchbook progresses.

Remind me to never use gel pens for drawing ever again. Also, this is my friend Charles. He is not actually a rocket scientist but an aerospace major at USC. During our coffee meeting at the new Suju's in Fremont, he taught me the basics of laminar/turbulent flow, and I now know why golf balls have little holes in them. I think I now understand the dynamic between John Clapp and Alejandro Garcia. It's really cool to have a friend who closely studies the physics of things.

Model tortoise drawing. Was a lot of fun to do.


Happy Hollows! Also, to quote an adorable kid there, "THAT IS NOT A KITTY!" Shows that this kid is more mature than I am, haha. One of the joys of drawing in public areas like zoos and museums is the kids and/or their parents occasionally giving you their attention. I used to be someone who hated being around little children, but I think the sketchbook has changed that part of me.

Meercats. Hence the title.


That was my favorite tree in the whole zoo.

Secret agent capybara!

While I was doing the drawing on the top left, an elderly lady said words that could never be more true: "The good ones always get off before you finish." She subsequently suggested I try painting with cold coffee as I would with watercolor. I've found that public transportation is one of my favorite places to draw people, especially on the seats right after the ones reserved for the elderly, physically handicapped, or pregnant women. The front of the bus is always a good source of finding people with such interesting faces, ones with personality that have come through age or experience. It definitely beats drawing young people all the time.

These two pages also mark the beginning of my snow trip to Mammoth Lakes, which was definitely the most fun I've had in a very, very long time. During this time, my drawings began taking more of a fun approach. I found myself drawing to my own moods, and since I was having fun, I think my drawings became more playful as a result.

Rachel's favorite drink, a crazy game of Taboo, a DVD player that was in a terrible angle to receive the signal from the remote, and yes that post-it note on Brandon's head says "John Clapp." We were playing a game of "guess the word on your forehead," and Brittany wrote that as a response to Brandon saying he "didn't know any people." We thought it was pretty appropriate for him, haha.

I wasn't nearly wearing enough layers while I was doing the drawing on the left. By the time I was done, I think I was feeling pretty numb. 

 The left page was my very last documentation of the snow trip. We were watching Iron Giant then, and everyone was sort of on "cool-down" mode. I was a little bit sad to leave that place.

The study on the left was of some plants that Clayton clipped from outside. One was from some shrub, and the other was from a germanium flower, which if I may add are the SMELLIEST flowers in all existence. As much as I hate the smell however, it did make for a pretty fun study. During that time Clayton and I got into some pretty deep discussion. Again I made the discovery that my drawings reflected the mood I was in. Because I was thinking a lot, I started looking for all the details in the beauty of those plants, thus creating more of a thoughtful drawing.

I bet you can tell who that is just by looking at the clothes he is wearing, hahahahaha!

Various drawings in San Jose. Also wanted to work with gouache more, so I took the plants from a couple nights ago and did a simple set-up. 

I just want to say real quick that the skewed label is NOT a mistake I made in my drawing but is the actual arrangement of the label itself. Guess someone got lazy and just slapped it on. Painting a glass container with a liquid inside it is a difficult feat as the shapes will change even when you change your angle slightly. But man, it really was fun to do.

Also, the university is cutting down a lot of its trees. What a travesty.

Some more successful sketches and one that I'll admit is really bad. I switched to a Daiso fountain pen. I found myself really liking it as it is sort of between Uniball and crow quill pens in terms of handling. An interesting note: the location on the right is the same place I did my first drawing for John's class.

More public transportation drawings. The guy on the top right is Andrew. We had a pretty cool discussion after I did the drawing. Turns out, his roommate is an art major so he is pretty used to being drawn.

Also the guy on the bottom right reminded me of Gandalf. Couldn't resist, haha.

This is the only page from my Oakland Zoo trip that I am including for now. That zoo gives the animals a lot of space, so the inhabitants there are notably happier than most other zoos. However, these animals NEVER  STAY STILL (except for the crocodile), so if you're a beginner to animal drawing like me, it can be pretty difficult.

This is the final page of my sketchbook. I spent the last day before the sketchbook was due in my home town. My mom and I visited Lake Elizabeth before I left for San Jose again, where I did one final study of a tree-filled island in the lake reserved for wild birds. If only I had my paints on me at the time...the colors were remarkable. I feel satisfied with the drawing however; using the fountain pen has really helped improve my precision, and it is just one step closer for me to progress back to using true pen and ink.

Anyhow, that is about it for my sketchbook! I might upload the missing pages one I get my sketchbook back, but that won't be for a while. I will say that in the end, this was quite an experience, and it feels weird not to have that sketchbook with me at this time. This is definitely something I want to keep up for as long as I can.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter Sketchbook Painting #7

More gouache shenanigans. This time of a drawing I did at the zoo yesterday.

I've got to get better brushes ASAP. And also learn to limit my color choices a bit more.

Winter Sketchbook Painting #6

Been taking a bit of a break from painting until today. I felt that I wasn't putting out enough drawings in my sketchbook, so I ended up filling up about 8 pages of sketches during a trip to the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.

However, I have been wanting to test out my gouache set. I didn't have a proper brush at the time, but I decided to experiment anyways on an older drawing I did that frankly didn't feel finished without color. And the result? Well, I wouldn't call this finished, but I will say that I've surprisingly fell in love with gouache. It is really the most flexible medium I've ever worked with.

Anyhow, I'm going to make a few tweaks to this later, but I'd say this will probably be the start of a switch to gouache for a while.