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1. Use your sketchbook to ask What if?
A great exercise, especially if you?re just starting out, is to look through your sketchbooks and ask what would happen if you added objects behind or in front of the picture you?ve sketched/painted. I added the tree in the foreground of this sketch to add interest.
2. Don?t overlook the city.
A city is challenging because as a subject it?s so complex. Figures become important. Diverse figures indicate the variety of people in a crowd; solitary figures suggest the loneliness of a place. Figures can also indicate the scale?the size of the people in relation to the buildings.
3. Use your sketches as reference files.
Our sketchbooks are more than a diary of the places we?ve been. I?m also drawing so I can have references handy when I work on more developed pictures. I made a painting from this sketch.
4. Try sketching while traveling in a car.
My favorite time to sketch is while traveling in a car. As my wife drives, we pass a house. The outer shape is quickly noted. We drive on?there?s a group of trees. I place those trees behind the house. Look at that?a differently shaped building. I place it so that the first one overlaps the second. There, a telephone pole; a car, etc. As object is added to object, I try to get them in an interesting overlap. Working directly in watercolor may be impossible during a car ride, but when I get home, I take out my sketchbook and lay in the colors and tones as I remember them. If it doesn?t work, I can change it or do the sketch over. After all, the beauty of the sketch is ?it?s only a sketch!?
Bill Silvers of Clermont, Florida, has more than 20 years of experience as an illustrator and has worked on films for Walt Disney Feature Animation for the past seven years. He started painting wildlife in 1996 when he began studying with artist John Seerey-Lester. Each year since 2001 he?s had paintings included in the Top 100 or Top 200 of the Arts for the Parks Competition, in which he won the 2001 Founders Favorite award.