Process of Drawing Cowboys- Ken

1I thought I would take this opportunity to share my process of drawing, using my latest piece as an example. I really enjoy drawing: it’s taking smudges and marks and making them all fit together into something recognizeable. The thing that I get excited about is how you can start with a blank sheet of paper and end with a distinguishable figure. I have enjoyed doing custom work a lot lately, because it means something to someone. It isn’t just another picture; it is a memory that someone cherishes. Yes, that does add a little more pressure to “get it right,” but in the end it adds a level of satisfaction, knowing that this drawing is important to them.
I start by making an outline, then I practice for two to three days before I actually start on “the real” drawing. I practice on an area that I’m not so confident in or that I need to make sure looks distinguishable–a part that is especially important to the drawing. If it is a person, hopefully it will look like them, so I need to study and pinpoint some of their definiunnamedng features. In this instance I practiced on the face several times. These practices are like several of my others– the first attempt looks like a bunch of blobs and each practice gets more detailed as I go. I also practiced the hands. Hands can be tricky. I practiced on the cow, specifically looking at the eye and nose; I also wanted to make sure I could make it look white. I wanted to make it obvious that it was a Charolais cow contrasted with a sorrel horse. So after I had considered these things and practiced for three days, I began to draw. When I paint I go from dark to light and cover as much of the canvas as I can, with whatever color I am working with at that time. Even though my drawing should probably be viewed more as painting with a pencil, I approach drawing in a different way. I go from left to right as I am right handed and don’t want to smear my drawing. People have different tricks for doing this, like putting their hand on a piece of paper or something like that. I have found it is easier for me not to have to worry about that; I just go from left to right, top to bottom. In some areas I work from light to dark. In other areas, like where something is obviously black, I will make it black 3and block out some areas, creating landmarks. Then I go back to light to dark again. Specifically for the really light areas on this cow– I used my blending stump and added a really light, soft color, then went over it again with the blending stump until I had reached the desired darkness. If I needed it a touch darker and still wanted a softer, gradual change in color, I used a really soft pencil and made a dark spot on a scratch paper, then dipped my blending stump in the spot and applied another layer on the cow. If I wanted a harsher line I used a hard pencil, colored the area and used my blender to go back over it. Sometimes I get carried away in the breadth of the dark area. At that point I can reduce it by using my eraser pencil. In this project, once a line is made, it stays. The only thing an eraser can do Is change the value a little. Because of this it is really important to leave all the white spaces2 white because you will never be able to get them back again. Some people use a white pencil or something to fix those areas, but I don’t want to worry about it; I think it adds a different consistency that I don’t care for. Additionally,  when erasing or drawing, blending, whatever, I try and use a circular or at least somewhat rhythmic motion. I don’t want to have a lot of pencil lines and eraser marks in my work. The other thing I try and add is a lot of contrast. I tend to make my darks darker than they really are and my lights a little lighter, because I love contrast. My favorite drawings are side lit, where one side of the image is in shadow and one side in light. The darker the value I want to make the softer the pencil, the lighter the area the harder the pencil. If I am adding detail in a small area I prefer a hard pencil, because it doesn’t crumble and get dust everywhere. To clean the edges of the piece once I am finished, I use a kneed-able eraser. It picks up dust and smudges the best. After I pass over the smudges I kneed the eraser, otherwise the eraser can pick up all that dust and get too full, leaving marks on the paper that I am trying to clean! I use carbon pencils and/or charcoal pencils, depending on what is available. I prefer carbon pencils.        unnamed              I hope everyone who is interested in trying drawing will feel a little more confident to go out and try it. This drawing was especially fun for me to do because I love the movement in it: I like the dust, the horse’s tail, the rope and the reins all flying up in the excitement. I also enjoyed this drawing because it is of one of our dear friends and I hope this wonderful family knows how much we are thinking of them and how much we love them. This drawing went to the Ken Hughes benefit ranch rodeo and silent auction. Thank you everyone that put money on it and helped our friends out.