Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to the Drawing Board, or Rather Class

Had a fantastic week in drawing class.
Everyone made good progress at creating their own art.
Betty, who struggled with the idea of negative space last week, got it. She did not know it, of course. That is the way it happens. The week before, I had her doing a negative space exercise which really threw her. It usually does when you try to do this. This is normal! We have a short stool at the Renaissance Art gallery, just the right size to put on the table and drive drawing students crazy. Now driving them crazy is not the aim of this exercise, just one of the added bonuses! The aim is to get the student to notice the spaces in a work of art. These can be just as important as the objects and effects the overall success of any piece. But to deliberately work in negative space will make the best student go cross-eyed!
Betty, like most students got very frustrated! Normal. But it is vitally important that the beginning student becomes aware of this. Many of us stumbled on this ourselves but it is much easier to master if you have someone to clue you in. Betty did the exercise, and did rather well, although she did not think so herself. We are not always the best judges of our own progress.

Well, this week we worked on drawing accurately and judging distances. Most people tend to think of judging distances only with distant objects, like cows in a field. But judging distances also means within an object from your point of view. Such as the distances between legs, uprights and braces in say, The stool sitting a few feet away on the floor of your drawing studio.
accurate drawings require accurate observations
Well Betty undertook to draw that *&^** stool again. This time she was trying to draw the stool, not the spaces around it. Did rather well, but suddenly, she said. "Ah! I am drawing those spaces!" This is how she was getting the placement of the legs, rungs, braces etc. correctly, using the size and shape of the negative spaces to double check herself! Erecka! Breakthrough!
Mary Anne is working on a portrait of her grandson. One of the consequences of doing a successful portrait of one of your grandchildren is that you must do them all! These portraits are being done in colored pencil. Colored pencil takes time and commitment. (some say doing any art in color pencils means you should be committed!)
Mary Anne conquers solvents
Getting a really saturated portrait mean a lot of hard work. Keeping the details from smearing calls for a delicate hand. And using solvents to blend the many layers necessary for a really good, saturated colored pencil painting takes nerves of steel. So this week I helped Mary Anne in working with colored pencil and solvent.
Word of caution to those of you working in colored pencil. Don't buy the cheap stuff! Only use mineral spirits/paint thinner you get from a quality art supply house. Do not use stuff from the hardware store. It is false economy. And use a light hand. We use rather cheap acrylic fine paint brushes for this. The solvents are hard on the brushes and destroy brushes. Watercolor brushes are too soft for this. You want something that is a little stiffer. Mary Anne also learned to use a larger stump to blend her background.
Speaking of backgrounds. These should not simply be afterthoughts. While you do not want a lot of detail, this does not mean you should not give them a lot of attention. In many ways the background can set the overall tone of the painting. If dark and moody, or with a lot of clutter, etc. your overall impression of the painting is set by the background. Think about it. A lot!
Julia's colored pencil painting
One person who has gotten the hang of fully saturated colored pencil is Julia. She worked a scene form how to train your dragon 2. She found out just how much work a good background takes. Julia work hours on this painting.

 Julia has moved on to working on her original story, in her case a fairy tale, complete with pen & ink illustrations.

Other students are working on their own original graphic novels. Interesting story lines. They are at the creating characters stage. working out just who these people are  and the universe in which they live.

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