Week 5

Our model today was Susan Mesches. I didn't do a demonstration today but during the critique I mentioned something I did in the morning class that I think is worth repeating here.

In the morning class I messed up several student drawings by scrubbing them thoroughly with a dry paper towel (with their permission). This is something I regularly do with my beginning drawing class and it is also part of my own drawing process. Three reasons I gave you for this being a helpful practice are:

  1. It spreads some value into the negative space (background) of your drawing so when you start adding highlights they will actually be highlights because the area around them will be at least slightly darker.
  2. At the beginning of a drawing when you are trying to establish correct proportions and contour lines you will tend to draw several lines close together or makes excess marks. Scrubbing your drawing will blend those repeated lines together and the average of all those lines will often be more accurate than any one line by itself. It is easier to see what you are doing when you get rid of some of that visual noise. 
  3. I personally feel the act of scrubbing a drawing helps keep me from getting too attached to any one part of the drawing. This is especially important at the beginning of a drawing. This will make it easier to see and correct problems. It will also keep you from getting too detailed too soon because the scrubbing will get rid of most of the details. 

It was a great summer session! I saw improvement and felt like the drawings we put on the wall today were the best yet. Thanks to all of you for working hard! I hope to see you in the Fall. 



The last 11 images in this image gallery were taken with a different camera which I think had a filter on because the color is really off. I apologize for the inaccuracy. My mistake. 

Week 4

Our model today was Peggy Moore. Last week someone requested that I do a demonstration using chalk pastel so for the demonstration today I walked you through some basics. A couple things worth repeating here:

  1. Drawing on toned paper makes it easier to quickly establish highlights because the paper itself isn't the lightest value. With white paper your highlights won't really be convincing until you cover every bit of paper that is not a highlight with a darker value.  
  2. Start your drawing by putting down a thin layer of a mid-value warm neutral (brown). Having some chalk on the paper to start with will make it easier to blend subsequent layers of color. Brown is a good middle ground for skin tones that won't get in your way as you develop the drawing. 
  3. Periodically, especially at the start of a drawing, I will take a dry paper towel and wipe down the whole drawing. This helps get rid of the noise that can build up as I am figuring out proportions and adjusting contour lines. It also has the psychological effect of keeping me from getting too attached to things at the start of the drawing. Finally it is a good way to start building up more chalk on the paper which you need to get smooth blending and a good range of mid-tones. 

Great drawing today! Remember next week is our last class for the summer.





Week 3

Today our model was David Abercrombie. We did one long pose for the whole class. In my demonstration I showed you a relatively new paper made by Arches (see link below) which is 100% cotton and made specifically for use as a surface for oil painting. This is unusual because traditionally painting on unprimed paper is a bad idea for many reasons. It also works well for acrylic but there are other papers that are also nice and a lot cheaper that work well with acrylic. I will list some of them below as well. 

First I demonstrated drawing with charcoal then adding acrylic medium to essentially turn the charcoal into paint. There is a really nice ghostly quality to the black lines when you work this way. You get a nice combination of line and brush strokes. Then I continued to paint into this drawing with white acrylic paint to bring out some highlights. There are many variations on this you could use - more acrylic colors, semi-transparent and opaque layers etc. You could also use chalk pastel instead of or in addition to charcoal. 

Next I talked about "drawing" with paint. By that I am suggesting a different way to think about drawing. Drawing with a brush and paint gives you a wider range of line thickness to the point that I was able to draw the whole torso with a single stroke with a large brush. This allows you to approach the various parts of the body as masses or shapes rather than seeing them as contour lines. This isn't better or worse really - just different. It can help you see relationships between parts of the body more clearly or at least in a different way. 

After blocking in the figure as interlocking shapes using a dark value, I used a smaller brush to add general areas of highlight. Once I have these basic proportions and values blocked in I am ready to refine the drawing with more detail. 





Week 2

Today our models were Patty Arquette, Valentino, Max and Oliver Twist. For a short demonstration I did this drawing and drew lines around the major highlight and shadow areas.  Many artists do this as a way to establish the over-all highlight and shadows before getting to more detail. In addition to keeping track of the big picture it has the added benefit of giving you more shapes and points of reference to use as you make the drawing. After drawing lines around the major highlight and shadows I filled in those areas with a fairly even covering of white and black charcoal. Only then did I start adding more specific highlight and shadows on smaller areas.  

In the first few minutes of the video below you can see a much more thorough demonstration of what I was talking about. He talks in terms of primary, secondary and tertiary forms while I tend to think of it in terms of "global" highlights and shadows vs. "local" highlights and shadows. The point is the same - you've got to establish (and maintain) the big picture before you get to the details. 

Next week our model will be David Abercrombie and we will have one long pose for the entire class. This will be a great time to bring your paints. 




Week 1

Today was our first day of class. Our model was Fiona Garrett.

For a demo today I went over some of the basic drawing materials we will be using in this class. One of the things I find people often don't know is the difference between vine and compressed charcoal.

Vine charcoal is made from an actual vine (you can also buy willow). The pieces of vine are heated in an oxygen free environment until they turn to charcoal. So when you use vine charcoal you are rubbing vine dust onto the paper.  There is not adhesive mixed with the vine dust. This makes it easy to wipe off but difficult to get really dark values. It can also be difficult to achieve a range of mid tones because when you try to blend or soften a mark or gradation the dust comes off. 

Compressed charcoal is made from black charcoal dust mixed with an adhesive. The mixture is extruded into either blocks or pencils. The adhesive in the mixture helps the charcoal stick to the paper so it doesn't wipe off as easily and you can achieve darker values and a wider range of mid tone. 

I also demonstrated gesture drawing and then how to develop a drawing by identifying the relationships between major anatomical landmarks. See the video below for a review.