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connecting tissue

by Henk ter Heide on Sunday April 18, 2010

in Personal

I started this color hatching sketch. It was meant as a kind of top view of a road through the forest. But as I was drawing it soon became clear that something was very wrong with this drawing.
I just couldn’t figure out why I was doing this. Drawing something of which I know it’s wrong.
But cycling to the fitness center to do my weekly workout it dawned on me.

When I tell people that I have a photographic memory, they often think that means that I never forget any thing. But that’s not the case. Never forgetting any thing is called a Eidetic memory. I do forget things.
I call it a photographic memory because the pictures in my mind have a photographic quality to them.

But as I am finding out. They are not complete.
It’s like I have these photographic plates in my mind that have to be exposed to an object to get a clear memory. But if I don’t look long enough to some detail of that object I don’t have a picture of it in my mind.

It’s like studying for an exam.
While you’re reading the book you feel like you know it by heart.
But on your exam you find that you have forgotten a few details. Usually the details aren’t very important. But sometimes they are the connecting tissue you need to make your argument.

In the same way I have a lot of pictures of tree trunks in my mind. Which isn’t strange. While cycling I get to see a lot of tree trunks.
I have several pictures of leaves and flowers in my mind. But I have hardly any pictures the point of the tree where the branches grow. That’s not the most interesting part of a tree. So I assume that I don’t look at it very much.

You know the feeling of needing a word that you can’t quit remember but you have it on the tip of your tongue? People suggest words but although you still can’t remember the word you need, you know that the suggestion is wrong.
I have something like that while doing a sketch like this.
I know it’s wrong, but I don’t know what I should change to correct it.

color hatching sketch
color hatching sketch



by Henk ter Heide on Sunday February 28, 2010

in Personal

I just saw a video by Seth Godin about shipping.
He mentions something I never realized.
I always thought that being an artist is about making beautiful and interesting drawings. But not according to Seth.
Seth Godin says that any business is about shipping.

And of course he is right.
In the Christmas holiday I started a very complicated drawing that probably will be very beautiful if I ever get it finished.
But like with most complicated drawings that I do. It takes a lot of time to complete and the middle part isn’t very interesting to do.
I haven’t done much drawing the last few months, so I’m still only about one third the way of completing the drawing.

Thinking about this shipping idea I realized that there is a better way to drawing. It would work much better if I draw a lot of these easy, quick drawings. And when I feel like it I’ll intermix them with working on the more complex drawings.

Lines 6



by Henk ter Heide on Monday May 18, 2009

in Drawing

This is the first picture in the book by Jack Hamm. Although this is a very bad copy of the picture it’s actually the best face I’ve ever done. Because I now have kind of an idea as to how mouths and hair are supposed to look when you draw them.

The only thing is that it’s not much fun to copy a drawing by some one else.
I think the next thing I’m going to do is print out a bunch of famous faces and try to draw them.

Looking at the drawing I see that I still have a problem with getting the left and the right side of the face symmetrical. At least in part this problem has to do with the fact that I cover the right side of the drawing with my hand while drawing the left side.
Maybe I should start with the left side…

Posted on Flickr by Henk ter Heide


Eye practice

by Henk ter Heide on Sunday May 17, 2009

in Drawing

After discovering yesterday that I had problems with the shape of one of the eyes I had no choice but to practice it.
I found that I was wrong. It’s not easier to draw the eye from the outside corner to the inside corner. It’s easier to draw it left to right and learn to control the pencil enough to get the shape you need.
It does mean that I cover the guiding dots with my hand. But I found that if I imagine the shape I want it works quite nice.

In three sessions during the day I filled two sheets with eye shapes. I was planning on doing a little more but the eye shapes are reasonable regular right now. And this practice run is rather boring.

Eye practice 1

Eye practice 2


Eye problems

by Henk ter Heide on Friday May 15, 2009

in Drawing

I realized that I had forgotten to draw the front view of the ear.
Since it would be a waste of paper to only draw one ear and then move on to drawing the whole face. I thought it would be nice to search the web for a photo of eyes and a nose. So I could do one last drawing of the parts of the face before moving on to the complete face.

But I ran into a problem drawing the right eye.

When I draw eyes I draw a curving line from the outside of the face to the inside. And use two dots to guide myself.
With the left eye (right for the on looker) that means drawing a line away from my hand. So I can see the dot I have to aim at to get the right shape.
But with the right eye (left for the on looker) I draw in the direction of my hand. Which means my hand is covering the dot. So I can’t see what I’m doing.

Of course this isn’t the first time I’ve run into this problem. It’s just that I always thought that I would solve it before it would become a nuisance. Clearly I didn’t.

A well. I can’t think of a solution right now, but I’m sure that I’ll find one if I put my mind to it.



Sketching and shading

by Henk ter Heide on Thursday May 14, 2009

in Technique

I tried my hand at drawing an ear. Jack Hamm’s book helped me to get some feel about the general shape an ear should have (img040). Then I search for a photo of an ear and tried to draw that.

I found that I have the tendency to use to dark lines while sketching. The problem with that is that lines have two purposes. Not only do they mark the edge of the subject, the ear in this case. They’re also used to show ridges by representing shades. When you use to dark lines to mark edges it looks like there is a ridge where there should be none.

Yesterday I said that I figured out how shading worked. Today I tried it again.
It’s kind of a trick.
I find that I have two modes of looking at a drawing. In the one mode the drawing is flat and darker and lighter areas are just that. Darker and lighter areas.
In the other mode the drawing becomes 3 dimensional and just by looking at the ridges it becomes obvious where shades will be cast and which areas should be darker and which should be lighter.

The trick is to switch from one mode to the other when your drawing needs it. A few days ago I did that by accident and it felt like an epiphany. I didn’t even know it was possible.
Today I couldn’t get it to work so I had to do it the old fashion way: Work on something else for a few hours and when you return to your drawing you’ve switched.
Then you can see what you actually drew. You can think about what you should do with your next drawing but you can’t actually work on the drawing.



Posted on Flickr by Henk ter Heide


Left eye

by Henk ter Heide on Thursday May 14, 2009

in Drawing

I sketched some left eyes. Wasn’t very difficult.
I found that the shape of eyes is a little different then I thought. I always understood that eyes were almond shaped. Which is true but apparently the outside corner is a little higher then the inside corner.

Could be. Although it seems to me that the last eye is tilted a bit to much. Seems a bit Chinese. But presumably you can see it better when you draw a face around the eye.




by Henk ter Heide on Wednesday May 13, 2009

in Drawing

After my last post Tammy commented: “Nobody nose noses like you noses ‘em!”
I very much like that kind of playing with words. So you’ll understand that this drawing isn’t about mice but about mouths.

The challenge with this drawing are the curving lines that have to meet each other at a specific distance and the shading. But it turned out that both are very much easier then I thought.
To draw curing lines you have to sketch them very lightly. Using a black pencil from a color pencil set instead of the grey HB pencil that is usually advised for this type of drawing, makes that a lot easier. With a black pencil a number of hues between white and black becomes much greater. Which means that you can sketch with a very light stroke and later cover it with the actual drawing.

The shading also turned out to be much easier then I expect. Only thing is that I don’t jet know how to describe the process. I’ll come back on that one.

While doing these sketches I had a feeling I’ve never had before.
For years people have been telling me how talented they though me to be. To which my reaction has always been “you should only know how many hours I have spend drawing, to know that it’s not talent but sweat”. But while doing this sketch I actually felt that people might be right and that I indeed have some talent.

Feeling talented is actually both a funny and a frightening feeling. Frightening because it has some consequence I didn’t know how to deal with right away.
So I didn’t post this sketch the day before last, as I should have. But took some time to think about the consequences.
More about them in my next posting…

3 mouses



by Henk ter Heide on Saturday May 9, 2009

in Technique

As I wrote in my last post “the difficult part of drawing a nose is getting a curved line at a specific distance of an other curved line”. I thought I should device some practice to get better at it and here it is.
What can I say. On the one hand it’s a boring exercise of course, but on the other it does become easier with practice.

I find that my hands starts to shake a little bit when I try this kind of practice. Which is something I have had before. But I never dared to go on practicing so I actually don’t know if this is something that will pass with practice.
In a few days I must try this again and see what happens.




by Henk ter Heide on Thursday May 7, 2009

in Drawing

I’ve started with the book “Drawing the head & figure” by Jack Hamm, which is considered the best book the learn to draw the human figure.
As instruction manuals go it’s quite an odd book. As you would expect it starts out with some instructions on how to draw the shape of the human head, but that are the only instructions you get. The rest of the book is filled with a collection of drawings of body parts. It’s left to the readers own inventiveness to figure out how to draw them.

I didn’t start at the beginning of the book. Since I have been having a lot of trouble drawing noses that seemed as good a place to start as any.
I found that the nose is indeed very difficult to draw.
At first I tried to copy the noses as good as I could, but that didn’t seem to work very well. After doing a few noses I tried drawing the general idea. That worked as poorly as the first Idea.

Only while doing the 11th nose I figured out what the problem is. Until now if I wanted two lines at a specific distance from each other I would start the second line at the point where it was nearest to the first.
But when drawing a nose that isn’t possible. You have to aim a curving line in such a way that the two lines will be at a specific distance half way through the curve. It’s very difficult to judge where you have to start your line and you need a very steady hand to pull it of.

I’ll have to see if I can find some exercise to practice this.