But instead of giving you our reasons, we turned it over to our awesome Etchr Pro-Ambassadors to see what they love about getting mobile with their art making.
When you’re art-making from life, you're drawing from something physically there, not copying from someone else’s edited photo or aping another artist whose style you admire.
You learn way more from referencing the real world, just like you learn way more from doing your own homework instead of copying the smart kid’s homework.
Drawing from life helps you to develop a greater understanding of form and volume, because you’re able to freely move around your subject and see how the light falls on the various surfaces, how shadows and bounce light delicately interact, how perspective works, and breathes life into otherwise dry abstract art theory.
It’s easier to find the answers to visual problems when you paint from life...all the information is right there, no filters apart from your own, so it feels purer.
You’re ultimately the decision maker about everything when you draw from the source, you decide which details recede and which come to the fore. And of course, you’re going to fail sometimes, but that’s how you learn, that’s how you develop taste and style.
While it’s possible to draw in a vacuum, it’s that much harder. If you always skip the step of seeking inspiration at its source, it’s more likely you'll fall into the trap of being someone who creates either derivative work or creates art with a lacklustre foundation.
Finally, let’s not forget…you get sun in your face. You are inescapably a part of it all, and there’s something invigorating about it, feeling the wind flowing through your hair, the smells of the place you set up, the sounds of life. Not looking through a virtual window.
From-life sketching helps you to build your mental database that you pull from when you are going to create...if I draw a tree, even poorly, I've still successfully made visual notes. Then I'll go to work and draw a tree creature that is much more believable because it’s informed by the rules that govern reality.
Getting out in the real world and drawing from life is a staple in my artistic journey, both personally and professionally.
The world is so wonderfully diverse and provides me with unlimited subject matter to study and sketch. Drawing from life affords me the ability to observe things in real space, which is key to helping me understand how they relate to the surrounding environment, interact with light, understand scale, texture and to observe from many angles.
Drawing from images is great - it’s very convenient and there are no time pressures, but being able to view something in real world 3d space helps me understand the actual structure and how to break it down into primitive shapes.
One of my favorite things to sketch is people and while I think it’s great fun (and important) to draw super dynamic ass kicking poses from my mind, it’s equally as important and fun to capture real world poses, interactions and expressions.
This ultimately helps me to draw more believable characters regardless of how mundane or fantastic the pose is.
Sketching is like breathing to an artist and being able to do it out in the wild is essential to our growth and overall development. Art is Life!
And what a great way to really immerse yourself in observing the places you are visiting…not just with a quick forgettable photo amongst the thousands of other photos on your camera, but by poring over every detail and facet of what is in front of you so you can truly relive it later on.
Observation is a mirror.
When you create purely fictional images, everything is a variable. From subject matter to mood to style to technique.
It’s hard to see yourself it the process as well as the final image because it’s so hard to separate pure interpretation from imagination.
When the subject is nonfictional, every mark you make (with brush, pen, pencil etc.) is pure interpretation. And that makes it much easier to see yourself reflected in the art...to see how you see things...to see how you think. Because only your stylistic and technical interpretations are fictional.
Throughout the process, as the piece develops and when the piece is “finished,” you can see yourself more clearly...without the amorphous, unpredictable subjectivity of fiction to confuse you.
Obviously, there will always be a bit of fiction in your “nonfiction” work. Of course, your stylistic and technical interpretations are not objectively true.
But that’s the point.
You’re working with one fictional factor (your style and technique) and one nonfictional (the subject) factor.
When you add a third fictional factor in subject matter, a fourth with mood and so on, the mirror gets very distorted.
Both fictional and nonfictional images are valuable. But it’s the nonfictional images that help us see and understand ourselves, which then gives us clarity and confidence in our fictional processes.
I can’t tell you how important bringing a sketchbook with me is! I try to have one with me wherever I go as you never quite know when you’re going to be struck with inspiration; see something you want to sketch; or just get bored and want to pass the time.
Sketching and painting is something I do outside a lot. Most recently I went to Wales to do some watercolour painting…which was actually next to impossible with the wind and rain but super fun if you like that kind of thing! It really makes you feel alive with the wind flapping the pages everywhere and the rain threatening to destroy your work!
Everywhere I go, I’ll find pockets of time here and there to sketch.
When my commute was an hour and a half on the train I would do the voyeuristic thing and draw people in the carriage with me. Because of the situation of being stuck on a train, they tended to make pretty cool models!
You know, I’d never really given it much thought as to why this appeals to me, but I suppose I enjoy letting my surroundings wash over me - a little bit of subconscious inspiration from the constantly changing models and environments and lights.
The other thing is that you don’t have to force your mind into a more interesting place like say when you’re designing a character or something from scratch - some of that work is already done for you. You can just walk around until you find something that appeals to you.
In a way, I find drawing a bit like meditation – it helps me both relax and focus at the same time and it’s really not about creating perfect renderings…it’s more about just using a different part of your brain for a while so you can see things a bit differently. I find this even helps my work, giving me different art solutions for problems sitting at the back of my mind.
At work I work on production VFX, but I still draw a ton in-between things. I draw while on my lunch break; I doodle while waiting for renders or sometimes during phone calls. To be honest, I often find these chance moments to be more inspiring than a 2 hour life drawing session. You can really just sketch anywhere!
So there it is! Take it from these pros...getting away from the drawing desk can be hugely beneficial for many reasons:
- More accurate recognition of colors and how they compare to each other
- Simplifying the drawing / painting process
- Improving the ability to paint accurately in a shorter time frame
- Studying firsthand how light behaves in diverse situations
- Disconnect from digital distractions like social media
- Get back out into nature / different environment to feel more inspired
- Improve your personal style and develop taste
- Increase your mental catalogue
- Provides a great deal of introspection
We found that unless you were going to a location with an existing sturdy drawing surface like a table or bench, it’s awkward and uncomfortable to draw for extended periods of time.
And this is where we felt we could bring value into the world - we specifically build products to make it easier to create on the go.
If you're after inspiration like this, special offers and more then get on our Mailing List.
Take care of yourselves and each other and keep creating <3