Another guest post by artist Brenda Wood...
In a few more lessons I hope you’ll all be willing to admit that you can still draw (AND teach your child!). And I say “still” because you always could, but at some point, for some reason, maybe you were just embarrassed, and became reluctant to try. Perhaps you heard a well meaning person say, "Well it isn’t exactly a Rembrandt,” to describe your copy work. Oh, see there’s that “copy” word again! Take heart! Most, if not all of the artists we consider “the Great Masters,” spent time as copyists, attempting to duplicate line for line, texture for texture, the style and methods of those who went before! They were often apprenticed for that very ability to do so, in time even finishing work where the “master” had only drawn the cartoon (outline).
Therefore, to draw well, we must invest the time and effort to see well! We must obviously take in, and retain some level of detail in order to create a resemblance. And the more the better! Michelangelo literally autopsied dead bodies, determined to understand the human form, what lies under the skin, what connects our parts and pieces, and makes us capable of moving in the ways we do.
There is a quote from Pablo Picasso which states, "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” And I’ll paraphrase here a bit: First learn from those who have sought out knowledge and understanding ahead of you, and proven some things that always work, like, don’t squish your Play-Doh together, and rinse out your brush between colors unless you actually want some shade of brown!
But, let’s move on to the drawing part. Here’s a step by step exercise for drawing your very own caterpillar, with a couple of simple expressions thrown in for good measure. Note that as you add the backward “C” shapes, they should lie about mid-line along whatever squiggle you’ve started with. Similarly, if you’re doing stripes, the lines should conform to (follow the curve of) the surface of each body segment. The segments should get slightly smaller toward the end.
And after you get the gist of that, experiment with moving the white dot (reflected light) on the eyeball. It will change the direction your caterpillar appears to be looking. Slant the eyebrows (which yes, we all know caterpillars don’t have !) at a different angle. The effect of the tiniest variation may surprise you. So you see, it really is all about breaking things down into bite-sized pieces, and handy as well, if you ever need to know “how to eat an elephant!"