I like to do critiques here every Friday to share my learning experiences with you.Â I learn as much from giving the critiques as I do from getting them.Â I hope that you learn something as well.
Jeff Knecht of Jeff’s Blog and I have led parallel lives in that we both gave up the pursuit of art for the pursuit of career and family.Â Both of us even ride bikes except that I ride the motorized kind because if I rode the pedal kind like his, I would collapse in a heap at the side of the road gasping for air like a goldfish on the counter top.Â Both of us have found our way back into the art world via the Everyday Matters group on Yahoo.Â A few weeks ago, I asked Jeff if he would be interested in an online critique session and he replied with a resounding YES!Â We had such a good time doing that, and it was such a success, that we decided to do it again.Â So, without further ado, I give you this week’s Friday Critique with our very special guest Jeff Knecht!
Blade21292: Woot!Â Man, that was a fast two weeks!
Blade21292: How’ve you been?
Jeff_Knecht: not as productive as I would have liked
Blade21292: You and me both, buddy.Â I had HUGE plans for this past week and this three day weekend.Â NADA!
Jeff_Knecht: been spending my time working on some digital photography and a little bit (ok, a lot) of programming
Blade21292: Now see, that’s creative to. For work or pleasure?
Jeff_Knecht: pleasure…Â it was a hobby that turned into a career, and then stayed a hobby too
Jeff_Knecht: the fact that I get paid to do what I love is a just a giant joke to me
Jeff_Knecht: I’d be doing it for free anyway ;)
Blade21292: That’s how I felt when I was in sales.Â Meet someone new, take ’em to lunch and maybe golf… checks are direct deposit.Â ;)
Blade21292: What have you been programming?
Jeff_Knecht: just working on a reminder system for myself
Jeff_Knecht: I’m not happy with what any other program I’ve used will do for me, so why not make something customized to my own needs
Jeff_Knecht: plus I’ve been wanting to try out some ideas with respect to user interfaces… this is a decent vehicle for that
Jeff_Knecht: anyway, it’s a huge time-suck.Â 6 hours can just disappear
Blade21292: That’s right, my friend, it’s all about what works for you.Â I keep a hot glue gun handy at home and work just because I am constantly customizing something.Â Beyond HTML though, I’ve never really dipped into programming.
Blade21292: And yeah, I know all about the time suck
Jeff_Knecht: I just got done reading your post about mowing the lawn…Â good stuff
Blade21292: I have been in trouble all weekend for not doing the yard work and such and I really did just now finish mowing it.
Jeff_Knecht: it’s nice to have a hobby that helps justify procrastination :D
Blade21292: Thank you very much, btw.
Blade21292: If my hobby were model trains, I doubt I would get as much support from my ART TEACHER wife.Â ;)
Blade21292: I love doing those quick little sketches like that.Â Like a chinese ink brush or zen drawing.Â I love the way they look and I love trying to do them
Blade21292: I’ve got a little giraffe that I did at the zoo today in that style
Jeff_Knecht: I saw one you posted a while back – a zebra and giraffe… wonderful little guys
Jeff_Knecht: They reminded me of the animal sketches picasso did, where he tried to capture the essence of the animal in as few lines as possible
Jeff_Knecht: you should do more.Â those are some of my favs that you’ve posted
Blade21292: Yeah, but picasso could really draw too.Â I have to get there before I can pass off the stylized work.
Blade21292: Just like the first time I heard the guys from Metallica on acoustic instruments, I was astounded when I saw the realism works of picasso and warhol etc.
Jeff_Knecht: Ha ha… you sound like me
Jeff_Knecht: If nothing else, when you hear/see an artist do something that you normally attribute to “classical” artists, it helps you really appreciate that their style is a choice and not just the only way they knew how to do it
Jeff_Knecht: Either way, they elicited a response in me…
Blade21292: The biggest advantage of those drawings are that you can capture a lot quickly.Â I desperately need to get faster at people and animals and this is a really fun way to do it.Â I use a brush pen that I learned about from Russ Stutler at http://sketching.cc
Blade21292: So, carbon pencils eh?
Jeff_Knecht: yeah… carbon pencils…
Jeff_Knecht: I was having a hard time getting darks that I was happy with.Â These babies are (almost) black as night
Blade21292: how do yo handle gray tones with ’em?
Jeff_Knecht: but as far as the grays…Â I didn’t use the carbon pencils for most of the grays.Â only the dark stuff
Blade21292: Have you tried them for the midtones?
Jeff_Knecht: if I were to use them for midtones, I’d have to create a
Jeff_Knecht: “carbon farm” and then use a tortillon to pick up the color and move it in very carefully
Jeff_Knecht: carbon doesn’t really erase, so if you go too dark, you’re stuck
Blade21292: That’s the problem for me with brush and ink is getting midtones. Can you not pick it up with a kneaded eraser?Â I’ve never tried these, as you can probably tell.
Jeff_Knecht: no – the kneaded eraser is just about useless
Jeff_Knecht: The nice thing is that the carbon and the pencil blend pretty well together
Blade21292: At least with ink, you can water it down
Blade21292: I will have to try this!
Jeff_Knecht: six bucks for a 4-pack: B, 2B, 4B, 6B
Blade21292: You know, when I get to go to figure drawing group I have been using china markers.Â Same thing, if you’re wrong or want mid tones, well that’s just too bad.
Jeff_Knecht: That kind of drawing suits me pretty well – I rarely erase anyway (I attribute this to inertia — I just don’t want to stop, put down the pencil, pick up the eraser, clear the bad line, start again)
Jeff_Knecht: If I erase at all, it is usually at the beginning of a drawing, where I can just delete the whole thing and start again
Blade21292: I read that on your blog.Â That’s one of the reasons I decided to do it that way.
Blade21292: LOL delete it! It’s easy to tell where your mind has been.
Jeff_Knecht: something about flying without a net, though, gives me a little rush
Jeff_Knecht: lol.Â woops…Â when worlds collide, huh?
Blade21292: Happens all the time around here too.
Blade21292: So, do you have anything in particular you want to look at this week?
Blade21292: I’d go for the candle, but you’ve already critiqued it pretty well
Jeff_Knecht: there’s even less to choose from than last time.Â But I’m actually pretty happy with the charcoal sketch of the harbor (though, it’s probably a bit TOO gestural to do a decent critique) and the candle.
Blade21292: I like the chapel and the bell
Blade21292: For the candle, I think you pretty much nailed it in your self critique.Â I love the detail of the stones and the contrasts in the glass bottom.Â You’ve really used the darks to bring out the depth of this drawing and give it some dimensional attitude.Â The carbon pencils seem to work will for you here. You are right when you say that your elipses are off a little.Â Also, on the shading technique, in some places it’s blended well and in others it’s more of a hatching.Â The hatching works to provide texture for the river stones.Â It contradicts with the texture at the bottom of the glass though.Â The top is smooth because of the blending, so what texture is at the bottom?Â The distortion of the candle through the rounded glass is great!Â Was that on purpose?Â ;)Â Also, did the wick not come through under the curvature?Â I really like these close cropped still lifes and I can go on and on about them.Â I’ll stop here except to say that this a good example of composition and contrast.Â I think we ALL need to work on our elipses.
Jeff_Knecht: Ha!Â Thanks for pointing that out… I adn’t realized that I had cross-hatch the sand and not blended it properly.Â Now that I look at it again, it really stands out
Jeff_Knecht: and yeah, the ellipse… I don’t know what happened there.Â All was OK with the top of the vase until I went in with the blending stump, and I managed to hose it all up.
Jeff_Knecht: By the way, some of the crosshatching on the rocks was not on purpose… as well as the carbon pencil blends, I couldn’t get these to smooth out properly in some cases.Â In other cases, I was hesitant to blend too much for fear of causing them to go too dark.Â Just something to keep in mind when you try them yourself
Blade21292: Well, the hatching on the rocks works with the blending to give them that smooth striped appearance that river rocks often have.
For Blade’s critique on The Harbor, visit Jeff’s Blog
Jeff_Knecht: with respect to the bell, I think you’ve captured the shape exceptionally well — one look, and this is instantly recognizable.Â The reflectivity of the bell is lost in some fairly soft transitions between light and dark.Â Reflective objects have almost no transition between light and dark, and the contrast is usually pretty stark, so I would push the darks a little more and leave more whites.Â I don’t get a sense of different materials between the bell and the ribbon (?) that is leading off to the left side.Â Again, more contrast in the reflective surafaces would help distinguish.Â Also, I know you don’t typically blend with a stump/tortillon, but you might consider using one in one texture and not the other to help differentiate.Â The bell “turns” pretty well — you did a good job of presenting a 3-dimensional object.
Blade21292: I have always shied away from drawing shiny things because they intimidate me.Â My style has always been to capture the essence of the podlings and then flesh it out later at my leisure.Â I haven’t been able to do that with shiny things because the contrasting reflections are what make them appear shiny.Â The journey is what it’s all about though, so I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and drawing more and more reflective surfaces.
Jeff_Knecht: I hear ya.Â Shiny things are really hard to get right, because not only do you have to draw the thing itself, but you have to capture all the things it reflects
Jeff_Knecht: But one thing I like about reflective surfaces is that that it forces you to really LOOK at what you’re drawing.Â You can’t just draw what you think a glass, ball, bell, or whatever looks like — most of the time, you’re not dawing the ball at all; you’re drawing the stuff reflected by the ball.Â And since that stuff is distorted in a very particular way, you are forced to concentrate on what you SEE — not what you THINK you see.
Blade21292: Exactly, I have a student now that I just took through the lesson of drawing what’s really there.
For Jeff’s critique of the chapel, visit Jeff’s Blog
At this point, I accidentally closed the window of chat.Â Jeff still had his open but basically all that was not already here was he and I saying our goodbyes and agreeing to meet again in a couple of weeks.Â I can’t stress enough how great it is to get to work with Jeff.Â I learn so much from his critiques and he is just an all around interesting guy to chat with.
Open invitation to critique Fridays.
If you would like to participate in Fridayâ€™s critiques, please contact me and I will be more than happy to set it up.