Adding Some Action To Your Art – A Ramble (With An Art Preview too)

2016 Artwork Adding action to your art  Article sketch

A while back, I had began to make the painting/drawing that will be posted here on Sunday. I’d had the idea to make a Sherlock Holmes-themed picture and I was eager to get started.

However, after I’d started making the original ink drawing, something just didn’t feel quite right. So, after a few failed attempts at making changes to the picture, I abandoned it:

 It was going to be a "Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper" picture, but it didn't really seem dramatic enough.

It was going to be a “Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper” picture, but it didn’t really seem dramatic enough.

The problem was that I’d come up with a really dramatic idea for a painting, but it just didn’t look dramatic. The reason for this was, of course, that Sherlock Holmes was just standing there and not really doing anything more than smoking his pipe and looking over his shoulder. The painting was missing one crucial component – action.

So, I started a totally new painting. Originally, this was going to be a “serious” painting/drawing based on a scene from “The Adventure Of Black Peter” from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Return Of Sherlock Holmes”, but I eventually turned it into a parody cartoon because of the hilarious expression on Holmes’ face in my final digitally-edited painting.

"Holmes And Watson Parody" By C. A. Brown

“Holmes And Watson Parody” By C. A. Brown

The main difference between this picture, of course, is that there’s more action in this picture. Watson is reclining on a chair and reading a magazine and Holmes is hunched over and holding a large harpoon. Even though the events of this picture are far less dramatic than those in my abandoned picture, this picture looks a lot more interesting for the simple reason that there are a lot more things happening in it.

One of the problems that I’ve had with my art for quite a while is that it sometimes looks kind of “static”. Although it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be back in 2013-2013 where virtually every one of my drawings was just a picture of someone standing still on one side of the picture, I still sometimes don’t really add enough action to my artwork and I’m sure that I’m not the only artist who has this problem.

The fact is that, relatively speaking, it’s fairly easy to draw someone standing still. Actions, on the other hand, require a lot more planning in order to draw well. Although I’ve learnt a few basic techniques that have helped (like drawing stick figure-like “skeletons” in order to plan out what people will look like in different poses and to get the proportions vaguely close to right), I’m still sometimes reluctant to draw people in more than a few stock poses for the foolish reason that there’s a high risk of failure.

But, at the same time, this is how all artists learn. I mean, the only reason I know how to draw people doing anything other than standing still is through practice and failure. Learning anything new usually requires quite a bit of failure.

Of course, there are are lots of ways to reduce the risk of failure when working out how to draw people in new poses – you can look at reference pictures, make planning sketches, draw stick figures first and all of that. But, still, the risk of failure is there and – although it’s an essential learning tool- it’s not always something that I’m willing to risk.

Still, if you want to add more action to your artwork, then be prepared to fail a few times before you get it right. But, when it goes right, it’s totally worth it.


Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

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