Last week saw the launch of the National Portrait Gallery’s new major exhibition, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. This exhibition focuses on John Singer Sargent’s more personal and experimental paintings. Portraits of prominent actors, writers and musicians of the day. Many of whom were his close friends, including sculptor Auguste Rodin, artists Claude Monet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson.
This major exhibition of over seventy portraits spans Sargent’s time in London, Paris, Boston and New York as well as his travels in the Italian and English countryside. Important loans from galleries and private collections in Europe and America make this an unmissable opportunity to discover the artist’s most daring, personal and distinctive portraits.
As an extra treat, throughout the exhibition’s run, it will be accompanied by a range of events including lectures and life drawing.
Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends is on now and will be concluding on the 25th of May. This is without doubt a must-see exhibition. I highly recommend, if you can, that you make time to go see it.
When 3DTotal offered the Illustrator’s Lounge an opportunity to review their Sketch Workshop series I jumped at the chance. I first heard about it through their exceedingly successful Kickstarter campaign. My intrigued was peaked, how would they tackle explaining some rather complex and layered subject matters to a novice?
Expecting to receive one or two of the workbooks, when I opened the parcel to find the entire Sketch Workshop bundle, there was a genuine gasp of joy. It included the leather-style folder, all five workbooks, and a set of drawl-inducing drawing tools, including five Koh-I-Noor graphite pencils. It is a very attractive set, which I sat staring at for a while, before it suddenly dawned on me that I may need some help if I planned on doing a review of this set any justice.
I decided to recruit the help of my 8-year-old cousin, (appropriately named) Arty. Definitely younger than the demographic that these workbooks are aimed for, but I was interested to see how accessible the tutorials are. I know that Arty already has an interest in illustration and has an attention span that could rival mine. So I knew it would not be too laborious to ask him to sit down for an hour or so and work through some of the pages with me.
I thought that Robot & Spaceships and Creatures workbooks would be best, as I know that Arty has a love of cars, and as you can’t really draw “creatures” wrong, can you? When I arrived workbooks in hand and told Arty that today we will be drawing together, he got really excited. When I pulled out the stationary he got even more excited, which is an indication of a future artist if there ever was one.
Given the choice of the two workbooks, Arty decided to go for Creatures. So I opened it up to a tutorial which looked the simplest. I showed him the page and explained what we would be drawing, then I read all the instructions to him, to which he responded “Wow, that’s hard”. I laughed and then tried to simplify the instructions a bit for him. He chose his pencils and got started.
Interestingly I had already given the Anatomy workbook a go a few days earlier, and my initial reaction was very similar to Arty’s. I am a competent illustrator and there was not anything in the Anatomy workbook that I would particularly struggle drawing, but yet I found some of the tutorials intimidating. A combination of a beautifully rendered sketch accompanied with instructions that neglected to explain the basics just threw me off. All workbooks have multiple tutors, so this scenario is not case for all tasks, but it is a common theme across the workbooks.
An example that came up when drawing with Arty was that he did not understanding the 3D aspect of the jaw and stuck to drawing the front row of teeth. I sketched a cylinder to help explain how he should think of a jaw and he quickly understood adapted his drawing to show back teeth. After an hour of drawing, Arty had filled a couple pages of A4 paper with a few pretty impressive creature teeth and dinosaur eyes. That was sadly as far as his attention span went. He then proceeded to shape the putty rubber into a rocket and throw it around the room. However, working alongside Arty’s helped me better gauge whom these workbooks are best suited to.
It is sadly a tad advanced for an 8-year-old (specifically Arty). I felt the tutorials were a bit too specific for my own needs, but I will probably give Robots & Spaceships and Cityscapes another go, as I have always found this area of technical drawing difficult. So ruling out the novice and the seasoned illustrator (ahem) I would say that these books best suit intermediate artist, those who have a good grasps of the basics, understand construction well, and have just starting to push their art into a direction.
Which brings me to the strength of the Sketch Workshop. It does a great job of encouraging the artist to really think. If you are drawing a creature, is it dangerous? If so where will their jaw hinge? If it is a robot, what fuel does it use? After you have really thought about the physicality of the drawing you are asked to consider lighting, so that you can render your drawing as realistic as possible too. These are definitely areas which can get left behind when learning to draw, so there is obvious merit in their approach.
All in all, if I had the Sketch Workshop when I was in Secondary School it would likely be one of my most prized possessions. It is beautifully presented and impossible not to get excited about. I will surely be wrapping the bundle up and gifting it to Arty for Christmas, and just like a Christmas jumper, hope he grows into it.
Try Sketch Workshops for FREE!
3DTotal is currently giving away a free sample chapter of the Robots & Spaceships Sketch Workshop on their site. Check it out here.
Sketch Workshop Bundle 3DTotal Publishing Includes:
The Sketch Workshop leather-style folder
5 Workbooks (Anatomy, Characters, Creatures, Robots & Spaceships, Cityscapes)
A set of drawing tools (graphite pencils, sketching pens, a putty rubber and dual pencil sharpener)
In Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy, 50 talented traditional and digital artists have been chosen to share their sketchbook works. Ranging from Hollywood film concept designers to talented students, each artist is handpicked from a vibrant international online art community. From doodles and sketches of creative creatures to fully rendered drawings of invented worlds, this book explores how 50 artists develop their ideas to create incredible images.
The Book Review:
A follow up to Sketching from the Imagination, Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy is a chunky square size paperback that showcases a plethora of illustrators. Many of whom I was being introduced to for the first time. Like many artist, I love flicking through other people’s sketchbooks. There is an element of freedom and expression in an artist sketchbook that rarely translate into their commercial work which make them so captivating.
Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy has around 6 pages per illustrator and cherry picks drawings from each of their sketchbooks. In this regard it does not quite feel like thumbing through their personal sketchbook pages, warts and all. It is more flaunting how beautiful and creative a sketch can be. Each illustrator has a short description about themselves and their work. They also talk about their inspirations, techniques and materials. I particularly enjoyed reading the variety of materials the illustrators use, which it should satisfy any of us with a stationery fetish. Interestingly, and perhaps slightly fruitless, a large amount of the features claim to use only a HB pencil.
As mentioned in the editor’s note, there are 50 feature illustrators, all unique in style. There were a few illustrators whom I feel are of particular note, such as Wylie Beckert, George Guo, Paul Sullivan, and Sean Andrew Murray.As well as Adonna Khare and Jim Pavelec who show off some marvellous fully rendered work that can quite easily be the finished article.
Overall Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy is enjoyable to flick through introducing a host of artist whose styles should satisfies all tastes. I found it especially useful reading the insight from the individual illustrators. The vital upshot that comes from reading the book is it raising the bar of your own sketchbook, with many of the illustrators setting a rather high benchmark to follow.
With this post The Lounge has reached a rather large milestone, 1000 posts. Thinking about that got me a little nervous. I started to question what illustrator would best mark this milestone. One of my favourite illustrators? One of the greats of yesteryear? One of the ground-breaking new talent? Since this blog is all about inspiration, I asked myself, “who has inspired me most?” Well, that was an easy question to answer. Without a doubt that would be my cousin, and fellow Lounge author, Mr Kyri Kyprianou.
I wont be able to get around the fact that this will be a slightly personal post, but I will try to keep it on track. Kyri is roughly two years older than me, and being older has two years more experience and drawing time than I. Two years that as a child I tried, in vain, to catch up on. We would often draw together, spending whole weekends doing nothing but that, only taking a break to go buy some penny sweets. Kyri always seemed to figure out things way quicker than I could. Whilst I jumped styles with each drawing, Kyri nailed a pretty unique style early on. His work, without a doubt was my yard stick.
Kyri studied animation at the Kent Institute of Art & Design. After three years of disciplined working habits his pencils tightened up considerably. He was using shapes more and his illustrations demonstrated an economy of style. At this point I knew there was no chance of me catching up to his level. But of course that didn’t deter me, it only made me aim higher.
After university Kyri went on to intern at a small London animation studio, called C.H.A.S.E., where he learnt the art of pitching. Not long after we both joined forces, along with Mr Tarkan Paphiti, to create the Illustrator’s Lounge. Effectively a group of illustrators united under one banner. In that time Kyri produced character designs for online video games, web animations, and spear-headed the Paper Project. Kyri has always comfortably jumped between mediums, and though he was a bit of a technophobe at first, rapidly mastered the tools of photoshop and illustrator.
Currently Kyri works as a graphic designer and illustrator for a web development company, where he has picked up new disciplines, such as branding and typography. In his spare time he is also working on a children’s animation pitch along with comic book writer David Berner.
Having an artist to work with, bounce ideas off, and critique your drawings is invaluable. It can often be difficult working and developing your skills in solitude, so I knew how lucky I was to have access to such a great talent. His work has been, and remains, my greatest inspiration.
I’d Love to Draw is a collection of work by the innovative American artist Andrew Loomis, previously unseen by anyone outside the Loomis family and available in print for the first time ever. Having been held in the Loomis family archive for decades after the artist’s death, I’d Love to Draw has been restored by a group of devoted experts, including the globally renowned comic book artist and Loomis devotee Alex Ross.
Andrew Loomis started this book with the ambitious intention of bridging the gap between those who “can’t draw” and hobbyist. Before he passed away, he completed much of the writing, annotations, and sketches. Though some of the sketches are quite rough, they more than convey their point. Alex Ross plays co-author, and adds extra annotation where needed. I initially though his part would be quite small, writing a forward and maybe some extra thoughts, but Mr Ross actually has annotations throughout which are very helpful.
An important thing to remember is that this book is aimed at the absolute novice and so Mr Loomis pays careful attention to limit the art terminology, and breaks down processes to their simplest. Mr Loomis’ main focus is to change how a beginner thinks about drawing. He States that an amateur will focus on the contours of an object and attempt to draw them. This is of course very difficult even for seasoned illustrators. He goes into great depth to explain the importance of construction lines, and breaking down an object to its most basic shapes. Mr Loomis proceeds comfortably to reinforce this idea with a few examples of complex objects with their basic shape counterpart. The book is filled with some great tidbits, like this gem:
“We can only fake things we know thoroughly—otherwise we just put down the evidence of what we do not know.”
After addressing preconceptions and hopefully easing some of any initial fear, Mr Loomis proceeds to explain some of the most central areas of illustration including perspective, light, faces and figures. He spotlights cartooning and exaggeration, in attempt to convey the fun of drawing. Which actually did just that. I found it a really welcome section after the more technical information. The book concludes with different techniques of sketching: tonal, accent, scribble, block and more. This was definitely my favourite section as it pretty much doubles as a showcase of how inspiring and adept Andrew Loomis’ sketches are.
In all, I’d Love to Draw, is a worthy addition to the Loomis book collection and it is wonderful to see more of his work in print. I should stress that it won’t suit everyone. For those who already have a foot in illustration and draw regularly, this book may be a tad repetitious. Essentially it is a more accessible version of Successful Drawing. However, what it does do well and what it set out to do, to relieve the fear of having a go.
I will admit I have not sat to draw much lately, but as soon as I put this book down I picked my pencil up. Something about the “Getting the fun out of it” section really motivated me.
Published by Titan Books, I’d Love To Draw is out now, retailing at £29.99. I would recommend it mainly for beginners, those interested in illustration (and willing to give it a go), and definitely the Loomis enthusiast.