Communicating Complex Emotion in a Drawing

Today, even though I don’t have as much time as I would like to work on art I’m struggling with communicating complex emotion in simple materials, charcoal and graphite.

On the morning walk I was thinking about the Indiana Jones drawing and the emotions I wanted to communicate in the drawing. I came up with this list.

  • Realization
  • Astonishment
  • Amazement
  • Awe
  • Love
  • Commitment
  • Surprise
  • Bewilderment
  • Revelation

This is a moment in the characters life where he is risking his life but more importantly he realizes in an instant that his father loves him more than the holy grail and artifact he has devoted his entire life to finding.

How do I communicate that in a drawing? What does a amazed line look like? What does an bewildered value look like? Is it even possible?

I was looking at my last two drawings: Harry Potter and Sherlock. And realized that there are some properties of the charcoal that communicate the emotion well.

Harry potter drawing finished

The Harry Potter drawing has a lot of rough texture that fits well with a scene before someones death and after a fight for his life. Plus the deep darkness in the drawing works well.

Sherlock drawing in charcoal

In contrast with Harry Potter, Sherlock is much smoother which fits well with his egotistical attitude and affluent life.

If I can contrast these two drawings and at least move certain aspects of the material closer to their motive, maybe not reaching it entirely, I can get closer to communicating complex emotion in Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones drawing

Previous Indiana Jones Drawing Posts

Daily Composition

This is one of my most favorite exercises in The Natural Way to Draw. Here is the description of the exercise directly out of the book.

This is a memory drawing, to be done in scribbled gesture style, but instead of drawing a single figure or object you are to show the human being in relation to his environment. Working in pencil, make a small drawing (about five by seven inches in size) of something you have seen during the past twenty-four hours. Put down as fast and easily as possible, and in any order, the various things you remember about a specific place and what was going on there. No more than fifteen minutes should be spent on one drawing. Make no corrections or alterations later, but go on to a new one the next day. Do not feel that the compositions should be complicated or, because they indicate more complete pictures, that they ought to be story-telling in a dramatic sense. Do not try to make something difficult out of them.

Kimon Nicolaides

I’m definitely not following the exercise exactly. I’m spending much more time on them and I’m using more than just a pencil.

The best thing about this exercise is it’s influence on me to practice presence in any situation. To actually observe each moment of my life and take it all it. Remember it, well.

Today’s composition is of an amazing moon I saw on my morning walk. It was setting behind the peninsula across the bay and was so orange and brilliant that it was like a blazing fireball. I tried to capture some of that.

Daily composition of the moon

The photo I took with my phone is super low quality but I love it’s mood.

What went well?

Beside my lack of time all day I was calm and collected through the entire day and working hard on my protocols.

What needs work?

Scheduling longer breaks throughout the day. It would be more accurate to what actually happens.

What did I learn and/or how can I do better?

I can communicate all kinds of emotions is super simple materials. All it take is time, careful thought and lost of effort.

Session Details