Thursday, September 12, 2013

Drawing Tips

By Michael T. Pizzolato
Associate Editor and Art Director

Draw every day. Practice makes perfect in anything. If you don’t have a lot of time, draw something, even if it’s on a sheet of loose-leaf paper that will find its way to the waste can. Draw and sketch a face, a horse a cow, a cartoon, anything. Just get your pencil busy and get in practice.

Study anatomy. You don’t need a medical knowledge of anatomy, but learn what muscles look like underneath the skin. Learn some bone and muscle basics. Protruding muscles are where you’ll place small definition lines on the skin that will help the drawing look authentic. Muscles underneath shape the outer edges of the anatomy as well. Faces are also anatomy, so learn where all the parts-eyes, ears, nose, etc.-go when you draw them in.

Let 3-D construction lines guide your work. If you draw a horse, for example, make a 3-barrel for the chest and sketch around that. The same goes for the horse’s legs-make 3-D cylinders and draw them in as well. Also, make use of references. If you’re drawing a horse or a person, you need to know what one looks like in detail, so this means having an image of one on your table as you draw. After a while, you will reach a point where little or no reference is needed. The same holds true for the human body, where torsos, legs and faces are made with a series of blocks and planes that after you learn them, will require less and less reference over time.

Understand one-point and two point perspective. There are many books and web sites out there on this often difficult and confusing topic. You can grasp 3-point perspective later, but one and two-point perspective are the most important. One point is like you’re looking down a long hallway to where the ceiling and floor of the hallway come to a single point. For two-point, think of a small box rotated to where the edge is facing the viewer. Now tilt the box upward or downward. Let’s say a downward tilt for our purposes where you see over the top of the box. If you follow the parallel box edges, the top of that box actually forms two long hallways, one ending on a point far over to the right and the other far over to the left side of the drawing. Those two points are on a straight line above the box called the horizon line (or ground line). Here is a link that may clarify things a bit better: Two Point Perspective

And when you create the lightly drawn perspective lines (to be erased later), this is the space where your drawing of people, horses, cows, etc., will go.
Use drawing manuals, online resources and even art classes to help you get better. There are many excellent books out there on how to draw as well as many online resources. More importantly, if the local university’s adult education department is offering a drawing course, take it.  They are usually fairly inexpensive and fun. There‘s no substitute for face-to-face training and learning.

Dance to your own music.  Make no apologies for your work and fear no one’s opinion. The special thing about your art is that no one else in the world can replicate it. It is a unique and special creation from your own God-given talent. Your artwork will speak to some people and not so much to others. You can always weigh whether or not criticism is valid and worthy of your making a change, but don’t let that stop you from making more art. The best advice I can give any artist is to make art every day without fail.

Check out some of artwork featured at The Western Online.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Favorite Western Writer

By Matthew Pizzolato

My absolute favorite writer in any genre is by far Louis L'Amour. I've written many times about why I admire both him and his writing.  I own everything he published and have read all of his book numerous times.  He was an influence not only on my writing but on my life as well.

I found this video of a 60 Minutes interview done with him that I'd never seen before and felt compelled to share it.

What writer has influenced you the most?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Increase Your Publication Chances

The best way to put the odds in your favor when submitting to any publication is to read the Submissions Guidelines for that magazine.  It's amazing how many people fail to do that.  Sometimes guidelines can seem tedious, but they are always there for a reason.

For example, The Western Online only publishes Western fiction, articles or artwork.  Yet we constantly get fiction submissions that aren't even Western stories.

The next step is to make sure your writing is good.  The best way to do that is to follow the advice of the great Elmore Leonard.  Numbers three and four are especially important as they are by far the most noticeable.