LEARNING TO DRAW, LEARNING TO SEE
When I was ten, I started writing. When I was twelve, I knew I had to illustrate my own work. I had a complete vision and I knew that illustration had become expressive and fantastical rather than representational and realistic. So I started drawing with the intent to make my own illustrations. The man's face on the left was probably drawn when i was seventeen or eighteen. The one on the right was done over thirty years later. I did not get instruction that helped me until I was forty. When I tried to draw realistically in school, I was graded down. Abstraction was "in." Illustrators were considered to be designers, or artists whose work was colorful and fun. I missed the Golden Age of illustration by only eighty years!
One of my worst and best qualities is that I am one of the most pig-headed people on the planet. No matter what happens to me, I keep trying again and again. I believed everything everyone said about my art being crappy. I didn't know what to do, but I was determined. Intense doesn't even come close to my feelings about my work. If you are an artist who loves to have fun with art, don't sweat it. Living with myself is sometimes a bit crazy. I get up at 4 am every morning to work before I go to my day job. When I was 21 I worked 90 hours a week and still drew during my lunch hour in the middle of the night. I driven and a bit insane. Again, these two profiles we drawn thirty years apart, one at fourteen, the other at forty-four.
For years, I like most other artists I know, I had the vision and not the skills. These two pictures were done only twenty years apart. I could only go so far on my own, for art books were also impossible to find. Luckily, some of the better ones have been reprinted. Although I am still frustrated at the thirty years I lost not having good instruction, when I see these pictures side by side I am relieved that, even late, I found the path I wanted. I made a number of people angry not being happy with my skills and demanding something better. As I said, I'm a bit intense.
With a little bit of instruction, I was able to piece together problems that I was still having. The one above is called "chasing shadows" or working from photos and not knowing what you are doing. This is a very common problem with illustrators. Now, if you just got excited looking at this photo, these pages are for you!
Now I'm not an illustrator. I do my own books. I don't even make my living doing drawings. I live simply and am very poor, but I have time to do my work. You cannot imagine how wonderful it is to be able to do my work. Maybe you can, if you, too, have a vision and need to get it out of you. But I'm not an artist or an illustrator. The musician, Ravel, made a living as a conductor. On his deathbed he kept crying because he could hear all the symphonies he had not had time to compose. Those of us who create, are like that. We cannot spend our lives performing when we must compose, for that is unique to us, not the drawing skill, but the vision. I have chosen to follow my visions, but it's very hard work, extremely satisfying, but hard.
I always wanted to do fantastical work, so I had to learn to draw realistically to ground the time and place of the world. When world building, one can wing it, relying on the mind to have enough inside to make the world seem true, or do the work. I chose the latter. The result was that I discovered by accident how to rescue Western Spirituality as well. Now that was amazing!
These pages will show how to build characters. I hope to solve your problems with continuity and lighting in easy to follow instruction.
I also demonstrate how lighting and chasing shadows can undermine your ability to see a face that everyone knows and reproduce it for a bookcover. I show you how to use photos as a reference, not to copy them. I also talk about lighting.
I'll also show how to pick out and understand basic structures in a face to indicate personality, what it means in a story, and why you can't ignore it. I'll show the paradigm for the West and the different ways in which peoples differ.
And I have articles on basic stuff that you won't find in many books, like this classical Italian technique. There are now some fabulous books out there, but there are still books with a lot of bad instruction and there are holes in the information.
I do hope you feel free to explore. I don't have much time to teach, but I feel for those people, who like me, are floundering around trying to find instruction. I don't resent the thirty years I lost because I discovered other stuff on the way and I would have ended up doing art for a living, using all that energy for others' work. But I want you to have a choice. Hopefully, I can help.
© 2019, A.R. Stone