Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Practice All The Time

Many of my studio-mates are natural cartoonists in the sense that cartooning was the first drawing language that they fell in love with and subsequently made concerted efforts to master. I was always more interested in 'realistic' or observed drawing for the same bravado-laced reasons that many aspiring young (typically male) artists often have. I assumed that because cartooning involved fewer lines and a distortion of visual norms that it was easy; I have learned just how difficult it actually is to capture the heart of a gesture, expression or setting with the perfect line. I have, after being inspired by the brilliant work of my many cartooning fluent studio-mates and comic art heroes, set about the task of revisiting the fundamentals of both construction and cartooning.

One way that I practice is to focus on an area I have trouble with like hands, mouths, placement of features on a face, torsos, feet etc. I go through issues of comics drawn by artists I like and copy their solution as closely as possible. In this case I took an issue of avengers and mimicked as many Stuart Immonen mouths as I could for about 2 hours. I learned a ton. I don't use that sort of thing when I'm making my own drawings because that would be plagiarism; it is totally fine to do it as a practice exercise in the same sense as learning a great Eric Clapton solo when you're trying to master blues guitar. It is worth trying to step into the shoes of your hero and get things from their perspective.

Michael Hampton's book on structural drawing has become a favorite of mine and I'm going through it bit by bit and trying out all the systems that he has developed. I highly recommend it to any of you that are experiencing a similar internal or external prompting to reexamine your stylistic leanings and tendencies. I plan to fill this sketch book with practice drawings and get as good as those artists I admire so much while simultaneously avoiding clear imitation in my final work. I'm only a little way into the process and it has already been a huge boon to me.

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