roller derby 15 + the tate britain

Three months in to the day and hello, halftime! For some reason my reference photo for today only had two girls, so that’s a bit of a break, I guess.

I think I did well with the poses here, but . . . ahahaha proportions.

And the last of my London drawing– an installation at the Tate Britain, Harrier and Jaguar, consisting of a Harrier fighter jet hung upside down in the museum lobby and a Jaguar fighter lying on the lobby floor, belly-up. The Jaguar was kind of overwhelming, because it was huge and all up in your face, and thus very difficult to draw coherently; the Harrier, however, I loved drawing an awful lot.

Plus I bought a postcard of the Harrier, so for once I actually have a photograph to go with my drawings! It was really well integrated into the architecture of the building– my friend Susie, when I showed her this photo, found it outright creepy– and neither my drawing nor the postcard really conveys how lovely the light was.


roller derby 14 + the british museum

On day 13 I was going to start doodling in faces, but I forgot! Remembered today, though.

Crouching and kneeling figures are hard, for me at least; they aren’t moving much, but you have to get the outlines of the calf and thigh just right so they contact each other even though the lines defining each are at an angle. Luckily, the first picture was at such an angle that that wasn’t much of an issue; what was an issue was the hair, which I have not yet had to draw since I’ve been doing that, since most of these girls were wearing helmets. I think I did all right on her pose– not so much on her hair.

All I can say about the second picture is: someday, someday, I will consistently remember to leave room for people’s heads. And about the third: wow, that girl’s arm is huge.

Today’s London sketches, such as they are, are from the British Museum. I was having a completely terrible day when I did these– as terrible as a day involving the British Museum could be– so I made these few sad efforts and then gave up for a few days. The only one I’m really pleased with is the burial mask from Sutton Hoo; the others are just tragic in comparison to what I posted yesterday.

roller derby 13 + camden market

Getting better again! I stopped worrying about shading today, and lucked in on some not very dramatic poses, and I don’t think these three turned out all that badly at all. Thank God.

And today’s London drawings are– not from Camden Market, exactly, but inspired by the endless stalls of pseudo-vintage dresses. You know how when you play Tetris all afternoon you close your eyes at night and keep playing Tetris in your head? I was seeing weird dresses behind my eyelids for days. So I drew a few of my favorites.

roller derby 12 + the V&A

Shockingly, I am not dead! I am not even a little bit dead, just slacking terribly, and seeing as I start school September 7 it’s time I got over that right quick.

There’s no way I’m going to get to Alon Bement this summer, sadly, and probably not during the semester either– his lessons are each pretty time-consuming. But I will damn well do 30 sets of derby girls. I am determined.

I am so mad I fell so far out of the habit of this. So mad. Because whatever shred of improvement I made during the first ten days is just, bip, gone. I’m drawing girls who look like they have one shoulder again, for God’s sake. Self. 😡

However, I do find it kind of neat– and have for a while– how, when I really look at just the outline of a figure as a flat silhouette, the limbs curve in all kinds of weird ways that look like they should be horrendously painful. And then I add more lines and shade a bit, and with derby girls I can cheat and add in a knee or elbow pad to place the joint, and bam, it looks just like an arm! Like, look at that first girl’s left arm (her left). That’s two smooth curves, tapering together a bit, with a chunk shaded together in the middle. You wouldn’t think that’s how an arm works! But apparently it does.

The third girl’s left leg would be an example of this too, except that she may actually be the single worst drawing of the 36-and-change I have posted to this blog so far. I usually start drawing with the curve of the shoulders and arms, or along the side and down over one hip, but with her I wanted to try starting from the legs, and, well. You hit a point some days where absolutely nothing is going right and you just desperately keep doing things in the hopes of eventually redeeming yourself but you really no longer care. I hit that point in my day today about half an hour after I got out of bed, and in this drawing sometime during her right leg. You get a good night’s sleep and move on.

ANYWAY. Much more awesomely, my sketching from my visit to the Victoria & Albert! I was going to explore more, but then I found the Fashion gallery and drew four pages of dresses, and no one was surprised. I was in there so long that I actually got visibly better at drawing drapery.

roller derby 11 + an airplane

After a few weeks I am back on the roller derby drawing hog! Such as it is. My “thirty-day” challenge to myself is now on its 70th calendar day and only 11th day of actually accomplishing something :/ But at least I’m still chugging along!

As you can see, however, the break has done my results few favors.

. . . I said I wasn’t going to be uselessly self-deprecating, so I just don’t even want to talk about the first one. Dear God. The second is better, at least. It started out really well; I guess I should’ve left it half-done.

I have no idea in retrospect why I chose to use the third photograph; the girl is such an awful tangle of limbs (just look at that excuse for a diagram) that I really can’t figure out what her legs are doing, which isn’t terribly helpful to me. But I chose all my references ahead of time, so I plugged bravely ahead. (That is the theme of this post, I guess; Plugging Bravely Ahead In The Face Of One’s Own Incompetence.

Strangely, though, I like that one best.

And here: the first day of my London trip. It barely even counts, because thanks to the magic of time zones we took off at 8AM and reached the hotel at 9PM. So really all there was to draw was airplane, and as it turns out airplanes are deeply annoying things to draw. (There will be more and better airplanes later, thanks to an installation I liked at the Tate.)

roller derby 10

A third of the way done, and I am now six posts for six days!

One pretty straightforward pose, today, and two really dynamic ones today, where by “dynamic” in the last case I mean “this girl was photographed mid-faceplant.” I wish I could post the photos I work from here– I think it would be really useful– but I’m not sure if there would be copyright issues, so I prefer not to.

Anyway: first picture adequate. Second girl’s left hip was obscured in the photo, so I did my best, but there is really no excuse for her left leg at all; it seems to have gone really wrong at the knee and below, and I can’t find a difference between my drawing and the photo to account for it. I was really pleased with the third girl, and . . .then I drew her head. I’m still pretty pleased with the rest of her, though– she actually looks like she’s falling over!

roller derby 9

Five for five!

I tried something a bit different here– tried to use longer, cleaner strokes to simplify the look of the drawing. I don’t think it did me or the first girl much good, but the second came out about average. I think I was starting to get the hang of it by the third, though.

roller derby 8

I am on a roll.

I haven’t been as satisfied with my work the last couple of days since I stopped doing diagrams. Maybe, even if they themselves look terrible, they were doing me some good that I didn’t realize? I’ll try them again tomorrow and see if it makes a difference. In the meantime: first and third girls’ arms look tiny instead of foreshortened; the second girl’s pose was a nice simple relief which is how I . . . somehow ran out of room for her head.

I don’t think I’m getting careless, but I’m beginning to worry about the prospect of getting bored with a theme before the month is out, which would lead to carelessness and be counterproductive. Just a thought, at the moment; don’t know if anything will come of it or if I should do something to head it off.

roller derby 7

Three posts in three days! God save us.

Not a fantastic effort today, I’m afraid. You can see an arm erased out behind the first girl, where I realized that wasn’t her right arm but the left arm of the player right behind her; I assume this girl’s arm was squished between them, because I couldn’t see it. The second girl has tiny little legs and a hunched shoulder, and judging by the third girl I don’t actually know why I was good at shoulders yesterday, I just was.

So . . . this is what I get for doing my drawing right before bed, pretty much, but I am not discouraged! I know what I did wrong and I have faith I can fix it, and I knuckled down and got my stuff done even if it wasn’t the best ever. So there.

roller derby 6

CHECK ME OUT TWO POSTS IN TWO DAYS. What is the world coming to, I ask you.

Check out the shoulders on these girls! And I mean shoulders, because there are two of them on each person. Crazy talk. Especially since, the way the third girl was positioned behind the second, I had no actual way to tell what was going on with her right arm, so I made an educated-ish guess that it was behind her anyway. She still looks a little odd, but way better than a couple of days ago.


It occurs to me, looking at this post now, that it looks like that first girl is wearing nothing whatsoever below the waist. This isn’t the case at all; it’s just that for consistency’s sake I’ve been shading in black shorts/leggings/pads and leaving everything else white except for cast shadows, and she was in fact wearing metallic red leggings. In retrospect I should have just drawn on a pair of hot pants or something.

I am a fifth of the way through the month (after two and a half weeks ahaha . . . ha) so I am changing up a bit and giving up the diagrams for now, because they mostly feel like busywork and end up looking like horribly deformed constellations. They might be a useful thing to know for drawing from imagination, and I might come back to practicing them another time, but I don’t think they do me much good when drawing a pose from sight; all they do is double the time I spend making what feels like the same amount of progress.

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