An Appeal

I accidentally deleted an email sent to me, I believe, from Augsburg. The sender was inquiring about a spherical perspective similar to the one shown above that I drew of Athens, Ohio, in 1976. The daughter, an art student, might be following this blog, and if so, I hope she will ask the sender to resend the email l so that I can respond properly. Thank you!

A Home-Bound Sketch: Part II

Continuing the series of drawings that shows the development of my sketch of a Nikon FE2 manual SLR. In the view above, the nobs and dials atop the camera body have been extended vertically from their positions in the previous sketch, and the neckstrap has been added.

The 55mm f2.8 micro-Nikkor lens is projected outward from the camera body, using the previously drawn central axis as a guide for the circular forms.

Finally, shading is added to indicate the dark mottled surfaces of the camera body as well as the curved forms of the knobs, dials, and lens barrel. The final touches included adding the Nikon logos on the prism housing and lens cap, and the etched FE2 on the camera body itself.

Note: This drawing was done using the Procreate app on an iPad with the Apple pencil stylus. This enabled me to capture stages of the drawing as jpeg images.

A Home-Bound Sketch

Looking for something to draw during the current stay-at-home situation, an old manual SLR caught my eye. Here is a sequence of views showing the process by which I captured the Nikon FE2, a beautifully crafted machine. First, as shown above, I blocked out the main body of the camera. I placed the body to the right to allow for the later inclusion of the neckstrap.

Next, I developed the angled, faceted corners and the off-center position of the viewfinder and lens housing.

I then blocked out the viewfinder prism and lens housing along with a very important line, perpendicular to the body, that indicates the central axis of the lens. This would help guide the later development of the cylindrical forms of the lens.

The next step was to indicate the circular positions and sizes of the shutter speed dial, shutter release button, film winder, film rewind dial, and the eyelets for the neckstrap.

Next week, I will show the final stages of development.

Drawing on Location Sharpens Visual Acuity

Visiting Swansons Nursery’s annual Reindeer Festival last week, I drew a few vignettes of the featured stars, Dasher and Blitzen. These incomplete views had to be done quickly because of the reindeers’ constant moving about. This exercise reminded me of how drawing from observation sharpens our visual acuity and helps us notice often subtle traits or characteristics. For example, I had always assumed that deer antlers grew symmetrically, but these reindeer had antlers that were not symmetrical at all. In doing some research, I came upon what biologists call fluctuating asymmetry in deer antlers, which can be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental stresses. In addition, these reindeer had a multipronged tine extending over their foreheads on one antler but not the other. This extra blade was supposedly used as a snowscraper!

DeConstructing the Viaduct: Part II

It was somewhat difficult to capture these giant machines as they were moving and munching away at the elevated concrete structure. What I should have been more careful of was establishing the position of the machines’ armatures in such a way that it was clear what was machine and what was concrete structure. The way the forms overlap in the above view makes this distinction a little too ambiguous.

Positive and Negative

Still waiting for the opportunity to draw the upper level of the Alaskan Way Viaduct being broken through. In the meantime, here is a drawing done in 1990 of a shrine in Jiyugaoka, a small town west of Tokyo. The composition consists of an interplay of positive and negative shapes and spaces, which interlock to form a unified image. In one instance, we can discern the edge of a tree trunk on the left and the outline of a torii on the right. At the next moment, we can focus on the details of the shrine itself as seen between the white spaces in the foreground.

Composing Possibilities

The Chinatown gateway in the last post is a good subject to use in illustrating how placing the focus or principal subject of a drawing on a page affects drawing composition. I tend to see that certain subjects, such as the gateway, have a directional aspect to them. They face a certain way and project visual energy in that direction. So in placing such subjects, I use white space to absorb that energy.

Here are two other possibilities for placing the gateway on a page.

Of course, if the gateway is not the only drawing on a page, then other elements can be used to rebalance the drawing composition.

Planes of Focus

Looking out at a scene, whether it be an interior space or a public square, we can usually discern three zones of depth—what is near to us in the foreground, what is in the middle ground, and what lies beyond, in the background. As we scan what lies before us, both at what is near and what is farther away, our eyes are capable of focusing and refocusing extremely fast, making it seem that everything is in focus all of the time.

But to convey a sense of space and depth—spatial depth—on the page, an effective graphic means is to treat each zone of depth differently. So we might, as in the first example above, treat the background with more emphasis and merely outline or suggest what lies in the foreground and middle ground, which we use to frame the view.

Or we can focus on what is in the foreground and blur or merely hint at what lies beyond, as in the view of Asakusa Temple in Tokyo above.

Or we can emphasize the middle ground and outline the foreground and fade out the background, as in the above view of New York City.

Beginning a Drawing

A question often asked is how to begin a drawing on location. Once we have selected a point of view and mentally composed the picture, one way to begin is to select a vertical plane in the scene, which can be the facade of a building or a wall of an interior space, and drawing this plane before delineating the horizon line—our eye level—relative to that plane.

It is important to properly size and locate this vertical plane relative to the page or sheet of paper to ensure that the entirety of the intended image will fit. If the initial plane is drawn too large, we may have to crop some of the intended image or worse, we might be tempted to alter the proportions of the scene to fit the page. Also, if the vertical plane is placed too far to the left or right, or too high or low on the page, the resulting composition may be distorted.

The initial vertical plane need not be a physical one. It can also be a virtual one, such as the cross section of a church nave or the width of a street.

More to come…