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.

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.

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

Drawing: Working with Negative Space

Working with negative spaces really helps you look and see what it is you are drawing without being drawn into the labeling battle with your brain.

negative space takes the labeling away

As usual it is easier to understand a new concept if you look at how someone else has done it before. We worked, initially from an example (google negative space drawing)

we used a simple tree outline and a directors chair. One of us was having a lot of difficulty with the concept of only drawing the spaces where the chair was not and not drawing the chair ,so we turned her example upside down and that really helped her labeling brain stop labeling!

I like to follow an exercise with drawing from life so that people can put the two things together and use the new skill transferabley. This is an important aspect of the way I teach.

We used the ivy above and, to make it as easy as possible, I drew a rectangle on the display paper so that everyone could judge where the ivy left the space and thus, judge, relative to the edge and the leaf shape, what shapes the negative shapes where. I hope that makes sense 🙂


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

Drawing – what you see not what you think is there

It can be so easy to draw what you think is there and for some it happens over and over. Our eyes are definitely seeing the object in front of us but our brain, helpfully, is constantly labelling and offering advice based on what it already knows.

One of my favourite objects to put up for Drawing is a chair. Something which should, in theory, be relatively simple to draw. After all it’s got straight lines and planes and is a relatively simple construction.

The trouble is that our brains know all about chairs! So we must come up with strategies to view the chair as an object. Look at the space between the lines, the angles and placement at which lines intersect. We have to see the chair in terms of light and shade, what is around it and which parts of it we can ACTUALLY see.

One way to do this is to start with a series of very quick observational sketches. We often do four in a row starting with one minute, two minutes, four minutes and twelve minutes. This gives us time to put aside preconceived ideas and begin to really look at what is in front of us.

These quick sketches can be followed by a twenty minute drawing and then finally forty five minutes or an hour. You will be very surprised how quickly the hour disappears and how much there is to see in a simple chair.

So get off your chair and draw it. Have fun.