Yesterday I watched Neil Boyle's composition DVD and he showed how he used photographs, mineral spirits and tracing paper to make design and composition decisions. I really didn't understand why the mineral spirits (applied between the photo and the tracing paper) would help..but I thought I'd try it, as an experiment. Boyle would do several tracing/drawings and slide them around for placement (his paintings were often "bussle-ing" with activity). I could understand the value of sliding several drawings around for ideas, it was reminiscent of how we graphic designers decided on placement(s) years ago before computers. I just used one simple photo, however, just to see how this tracing/mineral spirit thing worked.
Verdict= I think the mineral spirit/tracing/black pen drawing was helpful....but my choice of photo has very obvious black shapes..(and honestly, I can clearly see them without this tracing business). Just the same, it's apparent that what Boyle was doing was merging and linking large shapes to solidify the design prior to painting it.
After I did the Neil Boyle type tracing drawing I did my own drawing which I think was also helpful (and better because it incorporates some subtle things that the tracing does not include). Bottom line, It is it important to be able to use strategies to make better paintings..whatever that may be, and also have the ability to draw. Neil Boyle certainly is a shining example of someone who took advantage of all the tools available...including his own draftsmanship, to get the best result. Boyle stated during his talk that illustration and fine art were "one and the same". I agree with him. (Tomorrow I'll paint a study from my roughs).
From top to bottom
1. fashion photo from the 1950's
2. tracing paper
3. mineral spirits meets photo
4. tracing paper on top of mineral spirits & photo
5. pen drawing on tracing paper
6. freehand drawing from reference (I'll
pay more attention to the hand in tomorrow's painting)