It is so hard to get past the meaningfulness of things so we can see in visual terms. Can you tell whether this is a tree, petrified wood, or a rock? Is it alive, a dead snag, a piece of plastic? What if I told you it was a living tree? What difference does it make?
If you think it is a tree, it is probably because you have been informed (incorrectly) by the trees and brush in the background. This picture is from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas where I live. It is, indeed, a red rock. When it comes to content, context is everything.
When it comes to drawing and the visualization process, I think it is better to not know. If I'm all worried about whether I can make this rock look like a rock instead of a tree, I am going to be distracted from seeing the light and form. I try to keep it very abstract. I am a shape wrangler. My questions have to do with how the shapes overlap, butt together, or transition into each other. That is pretty much all I need to know.
What is this? Be careful... Don't say it. See it as something else - like you have never seen it before. You have no idea what it is. Place your thumb over its head. For me, once I remove the head, it makes it so much easier to draw. Why? It helps me to forget and lose the meaning and impact of the narrative story and symbolism. I feel the shift immediately. With the head covered, place your other thumb over the tail. Now it becomes very abstract. Is it easier to draw the shape?
My name is Chris Hammond and I think of myself as a visual learner who enjoys kayak touring, travel, photography, and graphic art projects. I like these things sort of all mixed together like a tossed salad.
Specific places and moments inspire me. I grew up on the river and the
sound, smell, and feeling of it still flows through me. There is a mystical
presence to these places. I really feel a kind of spiritual connection when I'm touring. I just never can get enough of it. So I'm still doing it.
I use a specially equipped kayak as a work space to sketch mostly waterway landscapes and aquascapes beneath the water. I apply some digital techniques back in the studio to enlarge and refine my sketchbook pages. The final result is often a large digital print or some other type of colorful graphic art product.
Although my inspiration is taken from direct observation of nature out in the field, my work is very layered, drawn from imagination, past experiences (childhood memories), and I suppose my sort of subconscious dream life. As I work through my projects, I am usually surprised to see what content emerges and takes shape. I like it that way. I try not to force it or over control it. When the process is working well, it becomes a meditation and I have the feeling some little self truth is coming to the surface of the page. So I would say my interest in this is the fun, curiosity, and surprise of it. I never know what the drawing will reveal next. So for me, it is just a great self discovery process.
I think maybe what I'm doing is worth sharing and I have a list of projects to finish. Generally, I want to publish and exhibit in a variety of forms including books, video, and social media gallery venues. Specifically, I have these projects in mind: I want to write a book called, Personal Publishing: Lessons From Nature. I want to create a travel blog called, The Artist's Kayak. I want to create a series of short YouTube videos called, Creative Tour & Sketch. But most pressing, I want to finish a set of slides, say 20 images, it is an aquascape portfolio called, Drawing Beneath My Kayak. The backbone of the set is in place. I have the terrible problem of one of the drawings being my favorite (by a long shot). I call this one, Entrance. I find myself thinking why can't they all be that good? Did I just get lucky?
Anyway, I'm looking for help to bring the entire portfolio up to the same level of quality as Entrance.
These are going to be the hard ones. It is easy to be distracted by the content - so much worry over this being a living creature (or dead). It breaks out of the discipline and attention to this being about the light, energy, and interesting shapes. It loses its way in terms of developing the relationship between form and content.
I have the terrible problem of one of the drawings being my
favorite (by a long shot). I call this one, Entrance. I find myself thinking why can't they all be that good? Did I just get lucky?
1. This is a completely fictional image but it feels so specific and accurate to me. I believe I have been here before. The light is logical enough for me. The space and how things overlap are clear. It is not ambiguous. There is a sense of motion and energy but it is not overdone. There is a lot of shapes but they seem easy to group and follow so I don't mind. In fact, it could be said that there are only two shapes: The dark shape on the left, and the light shape on the right. If anything I would rework the lower left quad - the vertical highlight floats up and needs to be knocked down so it wraps to the shape below and transitions into the darkness.
Here is the original, just a small doodle in my sketchbook.
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