Here's my first week of Inktober drawings with themes and descriptions. So far I've found this to be a really good exercise for coming up with ideas. Let's see if I can make it further than I did on the 22 day push up challenge!
Day 1 - 'swift' - Jonathan Swift 'Gulliver's Travels' reference
Day 2 - 'division' - Thought an eye dividing like a call might look quite cool
Day 3 - 'poison' - Reference to Bell Biv DeVoe's music video for 'Poison'
Day 4 - 'underwater' - Worked from some old sketches I found
Day 5 - 'long' - Struggled to not draw anything with a Freudian interpretation here.
Day 6 - 'sword' - Cheated and pulled out a sketch I did way back when consuming some mind altering substances. I have no idea what the story is here.
Day 7 - 'shy' - Reference to Shyguy from Super Mario
It's not to late to join in. Check out inktober.com
Like a good artist I kept my sketchbook with me while teaching in China. I didn't get as many done as I wanted to but here's a few that aren't so terrible.
In realistic drawing we seek to give the viewer the illusion of a three dimensional composition through light and dark. This illusion is also called chiaroscuro. The first step in this process is being able to see light and dark accurately. This is the first of two exercises I recommend to gain a basic understanding of light.
This exercise can be done in paint or charcoal. You’ll need:
Fabriano Ingres paper or thick textured drawing paper
- or –
A canvas board
Black or burnt umber paint
Brushes and palette
Turpanoid or white spirit
I recommend drawing from objects which are white or monochromatic. This means you won’t have the additional challenge of reducing colour information to black and white.
Here’s the style of composition I recommend beginning with. Start with a black background and white objects. Use a single, direct light source and block out any additional light sources in the room with boards or a box. There’s nothing incorrect about multiple light sources, but they can add confusion to this exercise. Having a studio is always helpful, but as you can see it's possible to do at home.
Try using a simple drawing system like the enveloping or ‘Encajar’ system that was popularised in Europe during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This example is from Charles Bargue’s lessons for students attempting to gain entry to the Ecole de Beaux Arts de Paris.
Here’s an example I’ve set up. I start by drawing a box that contains all objects in the composition. Check the proportion of the height against the width. Then draw lines cutting out the negative space and marking mid points of composition. Remember to look at the whole composition rather than drawing object by object.
Here’s another two examples. Next, draw the lines of the shadow shapes. For this exercise we will be drawing solely in two tones so ignore the fourth stage. It will be covered in Part 2. In order to reduce all of the nuanced tones to black or white, squint when you look at your subject. This will simplify the tones and push middle tones to either dark or light.
Be careful when approaching the reflected lights. Reflected lights are almost always still a dark. If you make them too light, it will flatten the image and you will lose the illusion of chiaroscuro.
Finally colour in the dark areas using the side of a one inch piece of willow charcoal. At this point we are only drawing shapes of light and dark. So if you have an area of shadow on an object next to a dark background, there is no need to colour up to the edges of the object. Draw over your lines since the whole area is in shadow. The below example shows the direction your charcoal should move.
Throughout your drawing, correct any proportional errors you find. Every time you put down new information is a chance to asses what’s already on the page. Don’t be discouraged if you see a number of errors once you colour in the darks. This is normal and is one of the best moments to correct your drawing.
Spend 20-30 minutes per drawing and repeat the process over and over again with different compositions. Seeing light and dark is learned through repetition. Think of this exercise the same way a musician practices scales or boxer punches focus mitts.
When you feel ready try more complex objects and backgrounds like the composition above. Don’t be intimidated by any subject. Everything can be reduced to light and dark.
I run classes on site and online, for more information please contact me.
This week was my last at London Fine Art Studios before my move to Huang Hai University in Zhumadian, China.
My Foundation 1 students did their first 3 hour charcoal drawing. It was a big step for them and will take a few more attempts before they are confident in rendering a drawing.
My Foundation 2 students continued their first 12 hour drawing. They struggled with it as I expected. I mainly gave them the task so they could experience the frustration and emotional rollercoaster of attempting to finish a drawing. Preparing yourself for the psychological difficulty of finishing a drawing is as important as understanding technique.
In my Anatomy class we finished drawing skeletal anatomy and caught several students who had been absent. At the end of class I passed the flame – or in this case, human skeleton – to Michael Gallone who will be running the show from now on.
I’ve been looking to upgrade from my Wacom Bamboo I bought as a student for a long time now. I finally settled on the Microsoft Surface Pro so I could get the added benefits of having a portable device. I bought a used, refurbished Surface Pro 3 i5 with 4GB RAM since I’m a cheap bastard. Here’s my thoughts...
So far the Surface Pro can handle all the files I’ve worked on with ease. I haven’t worked on anything bigger than 5mb yet, but there has been no lag in any of my brush strokes. The pressure sensitivity is great and I was able to turn off the annoying pen cursor.
The 12 inch screen size is surprisingly more than enough. With the amount of customisation that Photoshop has I’m able to always have enough room to work by zooming in and out. I was surprised to find out just how little space my hand needed for drawing.
The battery life is solid. I’ve been drawing for up to four hours before having to recharge. I would expect this if I was just browsing the internet, but not for working on Photoshop.
The only real downside I’ve seen so far is the limit to customisation of the pen. Microsoft has a very limited set of built in options for the buttons on the pen. I had to download Event Ghost in order to change the pen to the settings I was after.
Overall at the price I paid I’m happy with my purchase, but I don’t think I be able to justify a brand new model. The below sketches are from life and done on the Surface Pro.
Over the last few weeks I’ve continued taking my Foundation 1 students through the basics of drawing and proportions (see the below demonstrations). On week for we moved on to shading and modelling. The first attempt is always a shock for students, so I’m sure I’ll have to go through a demonstration again next week.
My Foundation 2 students started a 12 hour drawing. This will be their longest drawing yet, and at the moment they are very unsure about how they could draw something for 12 hours. I have a feeling next week will be mostly about learning how to push through the drudgery of polishing a drawing.
I did something slightly different with my Anatomy students this term. When we begin our 8 week project, we start by measuring the points where bone comes to skin. I find that most students struggle with this, so we spent a day going over how to measure. Following this we started our 8 week project and have begun working on skeletal anatomy.
Winter Term is in full swing at London Fine Art Studios. I got a new batch of Foundation and Gesture and Anatomy students.
This week I took my Foundation class through the basics of line...
...and the encajar system.
I’ve got a new exercise planned for my Gesture and Anatomy students next week. Let’s see how they handle it.
Today was my last class of the term at London Fine Art Studios. I gave my foundation students free choice of their still life compositions. A few of them really pulled it together for their last class. I was very impressed with a couple of my students.
My anatomy students finished their big anatomy project a week earlier, so I had them begin experimenting with gesture drawing. They didn’t understand the concepts straight away, so I gave them an exercise where they could only draw the figure using geometric forms. They did much better following the exercise but need a lot more experience.
My Foundation students continued studying colour. After their long three hour paintings last week, I had them attempt four 30 minute paintings. See my above examples. There was a huge improvement in the energy of the classroom. My students stepped up to the challenge and the development from their first to last painting was obvious.
Here’s the incredible work from my student Sophie Williams. Throughout the term I have been greatly impressed by her ability to learn quickly and willingness to take risks. This painting is a great example of her understanding of painting with mass, material handling and colour.
My Anatomy class finished their long project today. I think more than anything they learned just how much there is to learn. Many of my students want to do another term dissecting the figure.