We love being a fly on the wall while artists draw, which is why we take our camera with us when we travel. We’ve done that lately with artists like Ken Lashley and Jay Shuster, but today we want to share our trip to Shanghai to visit Weber Zhang, a master of figures, architecture, and organic gracefulness.
If there is an idea or project that isn’t developed quickly, you may find yourself dealing with completely different ideas or projects the following day.
Awakening of Insects
We asked him to create something beautiful for us using SketchBook. We knew that anything he made would turn out lovely, which you will undoubtedly agree with if you’ve ever seen any of his work. He took a seasonal approach and took as his inspiration the current day on the Chinese Lunar Calendar: Jingzhe, the Awakening of the Insects. This celebration of Spring is a time when thunderstorms wake up hibernating insects.
We love his get-right-to-it attitude. “If there is an idea or project that isn’t developed quickly, you may find yourself dealing with completely different ideas or projects the following day,” said Zhang. So true. If you wait on an idea, your powers of imagination might subside and turn your idea of a Phoenix-like insect rebirth into a plain old drawing of a butterfly. He gathered together some images that appealed to him, including a profile of a beautiful woman wearing a headdress and some cherry blossoms in full bloom on slender limbs. He grew that inspiration into a stunningly illustrated drawing of a forest fairy being shadowed by her sprite friend riding a caterpillar.
Where Color Meets Light
Zhang sometimes start on paper and scans in his work to SketchBook to focus on brush work and coloring. It’s easy to see from looking at his work that he is skilled at not just line drawing but at color and texture. As he says, “When working with color, we should always be aware of the behavior of light.” That is one thing about digital drawing that people sometimes don’t consider. If you completely embrace digital, you are literally drawing on a screen, which is by nature a projection of light. Covering that white light — that blank canvas of negative space brighter than any paper — offers up new ways to draw. It lets you experiment freely with color and texture. The end result is full of color and light.
Watch the Video
Join us at his beautiful and cozy studio in Shanghai as he introduces us to his drawing process: