Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Drawing – leaving a mark behind on a piece of paper?

Drawing is about making marks but, more fundamentally, before true creativity can develop (in any artistic medium) you need to make sense of the form of things.  In my view, this begins with understanding what you are looking at. I believe that to do this there is no better approach than learning to draw.

There are five basic steps to seeing your object and creating a drawing.

  • The Perception of Edges.
  • The Perception of Spaces.
  • The Perception of Relationships.
  • The Perception of Light & Shadow.
  • The Perception of the Whole or Gestalt.

In order to convert this theory into a drawing, I suggest that you start with the mantra

Look, draw, look look draw, review and repeat.

Mapping out the 2d interpretation of the 3d set up in front of you is much simpler if you repeat this mantra and try very hard to look at the object more than at your paper.

This is Ray doing a textbook look and draw in one of our drawing sessions.

However, before you start drawing, take some time out and doodle for 10 minutes. Draw patterns or remind yourself about the qualities of your drawing implements by creating patterns. I believe this is fundamental to drawing well. It gives your brain time to focus and also to stop the negative process of labelling and telling you you know what it (say an apple) looks like…….

See! you are doing it now …. you had a fleeting picture of an apple in your head. You know what an apple looks like don’t you!!!!….but is it actually the particular apple you are using as a still life object?

No! and to draw this particular apple you need to understand:-

  • The apples’ relationship to the objects and the space around it…
  • Where one edge meets another – be that the edge of your drawing or the other objects in the picture area.
  • The shape of the spaces which join the body of the apple to other things around it
  • Where the light falls and the shadows that this creates

And also –

  • the composition of the image as a whole. (Gestalt)

To start your drawing

  • Mark up where objects meet, and, if using a viewfinder, mark up where they intersect the edge the paper/viewfinder
  • Mark out the negative shapes to help describe the silhouettes of individual components.
  • Work over the whole image drawing the composition as a whole.
  • Start with a harder lighter pencil and use it lightly
  • At this point, you are not directly drawing an apple. Particularly not the apple n your head. You are mapping our a series of shapes.

Don’t be too precious about what you are doing.

Remember:-

  • At the end of the day, it is just a piece of paper with pencil marks on.
  • If you are worrying that someone is going to be judgemental – then don’t ask for their opinion
  • Don’t kid yourself – if it is not right – it simply isn’t right.

But take heart because:

  • Seeing that you are getting it wrong shows that you are getting it right.

 

Moving away from the object and starting to draw:-

As you progress you will break each part of your drawing down into smaller and smaller areas of interest.

  • You will note how one area is lighter than another.
  • These areas of different tome will also make shapes of their own
  • These will relate to one another.
  • In a very short time, you will notice you are no longer drawing an apple but that you are drawing a series of shapes.

change from drawing an apple to a state where you become aware that some areas are lighter than others. Measure the range of lightness or darkness and how they relate to each other.

Critical review:

An honest assment of your imagery is crucial. Reviewing your work is not being self-critical it is not a comment on your skill. It is a chance to ask yourself if (and be completely honest here) the image is showing you what you can see in front of you.

If it isn’t then look at the drawing and the object you are drawing and ask yourself why.

Why isn’t it going well?

If you can’t get it right then ask yourself why –

what are you doing in your head that means your hand can’t translate what your eye is seeing.

Ask yourself – Am I looking at what is in front of me of using a preconceived idea of what this object looks like.

Remember – your brain always thinks it knows best but you want to use the information you see with your eye not what your brain thinks this object should look like.

Don’t worry if your image is looking wrong – be prepared to refigure large parts of your drawing.

To be fair you can buy yourself a good rubber!!! However – never use a rubber because its wrong – use a rubber because you can see how to improve your drawing, use the mistakes you can see to help you judge how to redraw.

Be prepared to accept that you may well have to loose parts of the drawing (that have taken you a long time) but accept that it is better to be proactive and concentrate on training your hand eye co-ordination than it is to kid yourself into believing you are picture perfect (even though when you look at your drawing you know it isnt – we re all very good at this little brain trick!)

  • The more honest you are with yourself the quicker your hand and eye will co-ordinate
  • The more you practice the more quickly this will happen
  • The more open you are with yourself the better your drawing will be.
  • When your hand and eye can co-ordinate efficiently – then you will begin to draw what you can see.

Look, draw, look, look, draw – review – repeat.

and remember

The reason to come to drawing lessons is to learn to be self-reflective, not self-critical.

n.b. As a teacher of a creative skill please note that I am striving to be constructive. I am here to teach you how to draw what you can see in front of you!  When I offer feedback it is not a criticism of you. I am not passing judgement on your ability merely offering constructive advice on how your eye could inform your hand more effectively.

Painting with acrylics, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Painting – bright backgrounds and creating luminescence

Setting a challenge for yourself when you are learning to paint can be quite daunting. You look at a pear (in this instance) and you want to get out the yellow and the brown paint and paint a yellow and brown pear with maybe a touch of green. All quite normal, but as many of you will know if you want to play it safe the one thing I’ll do is set you a challenge to push yourself.

To make painting the pears more of a challenge I set them on to two very bright file folders (one is a light cyan and the other a pinky magenta) but painting he whole background in these two startling colours the challenge became to paint reasonably believable pears over the top and allow semi translucent paint layers to only partially obscure the under painting.

So not only was the re a challenge in eh compositional layout of the two pears on a stark background but also the play of colours between the two parts of the painting.

It certainly did prove a challenge and took everyone out of their comfort zones. But what happened during the process was truly satisfying.  This technical exercise took two sessions (four hours) and I admired the tenacity of the KA who certainly struggled as the painting came and went. She struggled with the form of the pear the strange affect of the pink and blue through her pear colours and the wetness of her paint for much of the two lessons.

However, there was a turning point. She stuck with it and turned her painting round. For the last hour of the session she worked back into all parts of the pear and the fore/background. Took risks with the colours she used, and took proactive decisions on the tonal properties of her painting. She even scratched into the paint to reveal underlayers of colour and I almost did a jig round the room when I heard her comment “Wow! That has made the painting luminous.” Well done KA.

I am not sure whether to record that she did later add that she wasn’t sure that if left to her own devices that she wouldn’t get out the yellow and brown paint! ……Just give me time, I thought ,and yellow and brown will have a whole new meaning for you 🙂 (See left hand photo)

Well Done KA – I am very proud of you. Keep at it.

Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Painting in new ways to increase your vocabulary

When you are learning about how to use paint, how to create a palette that suits you and as a way to shake up your approach I like introduce alternative approaches through images made by a range of artists. Often in styles which are very different to the participants normal approaches.

There were only two of us today so poor K had my undivided attention. However, I think my scrutiny really helped her work through her issues with this entirely new approach. One she had never used acrylics and two acrylics work in a totally different way to watercolour (her normal approach to colour)

I really took my hat off to her determination to work with the image she had picked from a number I had found on Pinterest. All of them were very different, some in oil, some in acrylic, some mixed media and one or two watercolour. Sadly, as is the wont of Pinterest many of the images where not credited so, sadly, we can’t credit the artists we used.

Very different images to work with. My chosen three pears and K’s one. We looked carefully for clues as to how the artist had worked. K’s worked in loose layers the overpainting used on slightly wet paint and creating its own third colour in much of the image.  The palette is strong and not a natural choice for her. So a really big gold star. I love how she has developed the image and worked with the acrylic paint, finding positives in how it works and what it can achieve.

I enjoyed this new approach too. I particularly liked the simple colourful imagery. I worked a little faster than K and (with a little overrun!) managed to first try the image I had chosen and then using the pears from earlier created my own composition in the same style.

Really enjoyed the process and will see how I can develop this style to suit my subject matter.

Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Drawing -finding new lines with new approaches

Today was about underpinning some of the lessons we have used over the past few months and to try and bring them together and, hopefully, work towards a cohesive drawing.

Everyone worked really well, and to be honest, every one struggled a little with the concept of not drawing a contour line to work within as the drawing progressed.

The first few exercises used the principals of 1,2,4 and 8 minutes to build fist rough shapes, overall shape, tonal values and negative and positive shapes. As we worked through this part some exterior lines where erased or subsumed by a darker area.

The final drawings were done over the next hour. I didn’t take progress pictures particularly, which is a great shame as over the hour the drawings found themselves, lost themselves and re-emerged the better for careful consideration of how one value worked against another and where shadows or reflections changed the tonal reading.

we used a stylised flower repeat pattern to warm up before starting to draw…..much more fun than boxes !!!

Painting with waterclour, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Painting: Underpainting to bring unity

This week we picked a picture of the sweetest of chiff chaff’s sitting on reed stalks.

We used an under-drawing as a guide to paint over, over which we laid a thin, translucent, layer of mauve. As we built up the wash layers this purple was brought into the shadows and brought a cohesive feel to the image.

Whilst the colour on this bird has become rather too brown and heavy -creating more of a reed warbler than a chiff chaff (LOL) the use of deep shadow amongst the stalks has been well seen and the form of the bird is well described.

Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,, West Darmoor Art Courses News

Drawing shapes – re-seeing form as a series of shapes

Quite a task for a Monday morning!  We all hold a visual memory of an object in our head. We know what something looks like. If I asked you to draw an apple for instance, you would know that it is a solid distorted sphere with a hard often shiny skin. You might even add a stem for good measure.

The likelihood however is that when presented with an apple as a study piece you will see that an apple is less round than you thought. It may be wider, longer or bumpier. Certainly, the inner shapes in terms of surface pattern and light fall will be more interesting and detailed than in your drawing from memory.

I took todays exercise from Bert Dodson’s book Keys To Drawing available very reasonably priced on @worldofbooks.

The intention of today’s session was to help us see the form of an object through the shapes on it.  This called for an object which would trigger the “I know what that is” response. We spent 45 minutes on three drawings of a plastic toy soldier!

The first step is to draw an outline of the edges of the object as a single line before beginning to identify negative spaces, larger areas of shade before refining the drawing down into more tonal areas. The soldiers had to be dropped from shoulder height to set the placement. (no cheating allowed! This meant that, inevitably, the figure was placed in a non-familiar way so it would be more difficult to use automatic responses when drawing.

Repeatedly the comment was that it was very difficult “indeed” to look at the shadow shapes without labelling them as a leg, or shirt, or hat. As we progressed through the morning it became apparent through the confidence shown in the progressive drawings that everyone was beginning, more easily, to identify larger and larger areas of pattern within the figure and divorce these areas from the need to label particular forms. As an aside I noticed that the description of the outside shapes of the small plastic soldiers became more accurate with each rendering.

As a reward for sticking at it we finished the morning with a simple clothes peg. A simple and easy way to realise shapes in the shadows and lighter areas rather than through contour drawing.

Drawing Tips, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art Courses,

Drawing – using tone instead of line and changing the emphasis of your own drawings marks

I set a real challenge today for the drawing class. The idea was to use our tone/value aid to really concentrate on lost and found edges.

This required, not only really looking very hard at the daffodils, our chosen object for today, but also making decisions on which parts of the flower head qualified as what value of light and dark on the scale.

To help a little participants took a black and white photograph of their chosen blooms to use as reference as the photographs could easily emphasise the dark and light areas when set to monochrome or noir and then darkened a little.

The drawings and decisions for shading were taken from eyeballed (al la Hockney phrase) and the photos used as an aid and by  working across the drawing to ensure that the right values where being put down proved really quite hard to get a handle on. (I guessed this from the many “this is very hard” comments!!!!!!) however as the second hour progressed I could see a definite understanding of how to work the drawings, but also how a new understanding was creating a new shorthand from each of the artists drawings.

I have to concede that it was a hard thing to grasp especially when, to date, we have tended towards line drawing (outline drawing) before adding and tone or mark making to the drawings.

Today was no exception but as the drawing progressed it became apparent that at least some of the outline would have to be removed as the value of the colour tone being laid down was lighter than the outside line. Similarly with the lost lines in the shadows or in very light areas changed the emphasis from the outside line to the form and shape of the inside of the object being drawn.

One helpful tip today has been adopted to reassure that their drawings were not “messy”. Many of the attendees where perplexed and rather discombobulated by the marks they were making. I explained that the flowers where looking messy because the image was showing the lines as very prominent on the white paper.  So the outside of the images were softened with dark shading to enclose their pencil marks. We had worked into drawings already as a warm up this morning using old drawings.  It had been a revelation to everyone how much it changed their drawings and how they needed to work back into the drawings to create more contrast.

This simple approach really bought out the lights and made them believable. Very satisfying.