Photo journalists seem to like finding subjects with strong cast shadows — you can find lots of these in your local newspapers from time to time. Select a few of these and make corresponding formats (margins) in your sketchbook. Then draw only the shadows as your subject matter. Can you tell what time of day it is by observing the length of the shadows? From which direction is the light source? This is a good way to concentrate on shape only to the exclusion of anything else.
Category Archives: WHAT TO DRAW IN YOUR SKETCHBOOK
ASSIGNMENTS I HAVE MADE FOR MY DRAWING STUDENTS AND WHICH I DREW IN MY OWN SKETCHBOOKS
Here are some more ideas from my list — ideas for compositions that I haven’t tried. They are mostly ideas for drawing subjects. The majority of these ideas came from the book by Bert Dodson: KEYS TO DRAWING WITH IMAGINATION. This is a great book to have in your collection. I got it from North Light books, and I recommend it highly. These are all things I wanted to try at some point or another, and I think I will pretty soon. I’ll share when I do, but please let me know if you try some of them!
1. Draw a sequence of views from outdoors to indoors or reverse. Eliminate unessential detail. Select views that make a strong transition from wide open space to middle ground to closeup space.
2. Photograph an object from multiple perspectives in black and white. Vary the scale and perspective. Make a collage in an interesting composition. Translate this into a drawing and extend random distortions. Put the collage away before finishing the drawing.
3. Observe a rocky subject and make several sketches. Pay attention to the type of stroke used. Now, redraw to achieve a more dramatic result. Try upside down, mirror images, a bigger tool, changing the metaphor such as cracked open nuts, or pebbles.
4. Use a tree trunk or its branches as a subject. Emphasize the character of the stroke in several sketches. Then do a spin -off that further emphasizes and strengthens the pattern.
5. Take one of your previous drawings and redraw it in rhythmic lines. Don’t use outlines. let curving parallels describe form by bending around them. Lines should converge near the edges and widen in central areas to create a 3D effect.
I have lots more suggestions for sketchbook drawings, but alas, I never drew them. Hopefully, you will take some of these suggestions and try them yourself in your sketchbooks. If you do, and want to send me some images, I will be happy to post these on my blog.
Idea No. 1: Make a list of five objects. Make a list of five locations or environments. Combine one from each list into a drawing, such as: a fish in a forest, an alligator on the kitchen table, a lamp in a cloudy sky. Make it outrageous!
Idea No. 2: Draw a still life of reflective and transparent objects — use three different surface qualities. Use a viewfinder to isolate an area of the still life with a wide range of values and elements. Turn this area into a larger drawing either abstract or representational.
Idea No. 3: Tell a story in 4-5 consecutive views on separate sheets of your sketchbook. Use the medium of your choice.
Idea No. 4: Make a drawing depicting an emotion without a figure. How can you do this through space, life, and perspective? For example: space = bedroom, elevator; light = a single bare bulb or candle; perspective = looking upward or downward.
Idea No. 5: An alphabetical landscape: use a short but profound word like WAR and draw a wide, horizontal rectangle on a sketchbook page. Put capital letters in this field. Break up the space in a dynamic way and use negative space to provide the environment. Use perspective and color on the letters.
More to come later…
FIND A SCARY HALLOWEEN MASK AND DRAW IT IN YOUR MOST GHOULISH MANNER. MAKE SURE THERE ARE LOTS OF SHADOWS AND DARKNESS IN YOUR DESIGN. MANIPULATE AND DISTORT THE IMAGES TO MAKE THEM EVEN SCARIER. THESE MEXICAN MASKS I PHOTOGRAPHED IN MEXICO, BUT THE GHOST MASK I FOUND ON MY SOFTWARE. I HAVEN’T DRAWN ANY OF THESE AS YET, BUT I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO DO IT!
LOOK OUT A WINDOW IN YOUR HOUSE/APARTMENT. USING THE WINDOW FRAME AS YOUR FORMAT, MAKE ANOTHER FORMAT IN YOUR SKETCHBOOK CORRESPONDING TO THE SHAPE OF THE WINDOW. THINK OF THE PANE OF GLASS AS THE PICTURE PLANE AND DRAW WHAT YOU SEE FROM THAT VIEWPOINT. THIS DRAWING WAS DONE FROM ONE OF THE WINDOWS IN MY UPSTAIRS STUDIO.
The next time you visit an art museum, be sure to take your sketchbook and a pencil/pen with you. Look for exotic, foreign subjects: African, Hindu, Asian – any artifacts that are not part of your culture. Be observant of line, space, rhythm, and exterior decoration and examine the object from as many angles as you can. Then draw the object showing value and detail – spend at least 15 minutes on this drawing.
Find a photograph or newspaper/magazine picture with strong contrasts. Tape a piece of tracing paper over the photo and trace only the shapes you see. Merge all the dark areas into one shape, and all the light areas into another. Fill in the shapes so that you have only two values: black and white. Use line if you want to delineate features. This type of design becomes more unified and connected. You also introduce ambiguity. How many shapes do you see in the result? Count connected shapes as one.
Using your knowledge of two-point perspective, draw a short stairway leading nowhere. You can use your imagination to project a destination for the stairway; one of my students made the stairway go into a fantastic tree house! Leave all the converging lines and vanishing points visible. Notice how I knew how far apart to make each step– there will be a lesson on this later in another blog.
This exercise is akin to making a sculpture with the substraction method. You take away rather than add to the drawing. The exercise is also known as “shadow drawing.” It’s a great way to see and compare values.
Choose a photo that is at least 5 x 7″ or 6 x 8″ — one with lots of light and dark contrast. Tape it upside down on one side of your spiral-bound sketchbook. You will do the drawing upside down so that you’re aware of shapes and values rather than the object itself.
Draw a format the exact same size on the facing page of your sketchbook. Using vine or compressed charcoal, make an overall light value covering the entire area within your format. Use a tissue in a circular motion to smooth out the charcoal so that the same value is all inside the format.
Now, using your kneaded eraser, erase out all the lightest lights as seen on your photo. Use the edges of the format to gauge the distances between shapes and shadows. Once you have removed all the light areas, use charcoal pencil to darken all the subsequent values until the drawing is complete. Turn the photo and your drawing right side up to see how well you did in mapping the values. You might be pleasantly surprised!