# Monthly Archives: September 2013

## AN IMAGINARY STAIRWAY

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.

## MAKE A REDUCTION DRAWING

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!

## DISTORTION WITH A GRID

THIS IS TAKEN FROM BERT DODSON’S BOOK: KEYS TO DRAWING WITH IMAGINATION.

IT’S A FUN WAY TO USE PERSPECTIVE AND GRIDDING TO MAKE A DISTORTED IMAGE OF A PERSON. YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE TWO GRIDS, BOTH LABELED THE SAME WAY. FIND A PHOTOGRAPH 8 1/2 X 11″ OF A PERSON’S FACE OR BODY. MAKE A 1″ SQUARE GRID ON TRACING PAPER THE SAME SIZE AND TAPE IT ONTO THE PHOTO. LABEL THE HORIZONTAL BASE LINE WITH NUMBERS FROM 1-7, AND THE VERTICAL AXIS WITH LETTERS.

NOW, MAKE ANOTHER GRID EITHER ON TRACING PAPER OR DIRECTLY ON YOUR SKETCHBOOK PAGE, BUT IT THIS CASE, FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS: 1. DRAW A HORIZONTAL BASELINE AND MARK OFF EQUAL DISTANCES ALONG THIS LINE. NUMBER LIKE IN THE 1″ GRID.2. PUT A VANISHING POINT AT THE TOP CENTER OF THE PAGE. 3. NOW DRAW LINES FROM THE NUMBERED SECTIONS AT THE BOTTOM TO THE VANISHING POINT AT THE TOP. 4. DRAW ANOTHER HORIZONTAL LINE 1″ ABOVE THE BASELINE. 5. NOW, DRAW A DIAGONAL LINE FROM THE BOTTOM LEFT CORNER THROUGH THE TOP RIGHT INTERSECTION AND CONTINUE THIS LINE ACROSS THE PAGE. 6. WHERE THE LINES INTERSECT, THAT IS WHERE YOU PLACE THE NEXT HORIZONTALS. NOW YOU HAVE YOUR DISTORTION GRID MADE. 7. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO NOW IS DRAW WHAT YOU SEE IN THE PHOTO GRID IN EACH SECTION OF THE DISTORTION GRID.

LET ME KNOW IF IT WORKS, AND IF YOU NEED ADDITIONAL INFORMATION. I REALLY DO RECOMMEND DODSON’S TWO DRAWING BOOKS: KEYS TO DRAWING, AND KEYS TO DRAWING WITH IMAGINATION.

## PAPER BAG DRAWING

THIS IS A GREAT EXERCISE FOR LEARNING TO MAP SHAPES AND ISOLATE SHADOWS. MAPPING MEANS THAT YOU MAKE A DEFINITE SHAPE TO EVERY SHADOW, EVEN IF THE SHADOWS SEEM INDISTINCT. THIS MAKES A MAP WITH EDGES TO FORM THE BASIS OF YOUR LIGHT/SHADOW PATTERNS. CRUSH A PAPER BAG LOOSELY AND LAY IT ON ITS SIDE. PUT A STRONG LIGHT SOURCE ON THE BAG. USING CHARCOAL OR GRAPHITE, DRAW THE OUTLINE OF THE BAG AND THEN STUDY THE PATTERNS YOU SEE. MAP OUT THE SHADOWS INCLUDING THE CAST SHADOW.

FILL IN THE VALUES AS YOU SEE THEM. LOOK TO SEE WHERE THE LIGHT VALUES, THE MIDDLE VALUES, THE DARKEST VALUES, AND THE REFLECTED LIGHT ARE. THERE WILL BE MANY CHANGES OF DIRECTIONS IN THE FOLDS, SO FIT YOUR STROKES TO THE DIRECTION OF EACH SHAPE. FOR SOFT EDGES, SHADE BEYOND THE BOUNDARY LINES. FOR HARD EDGES, SHADE RIGHT UP TO THE BOUNDARIES. YOU MIGHT HAVE TO SQUINT YOUR EYES OR TAKE YOUR GLASSES OFF!

## THE COLOR WHEEL TREE

HERE’S ANOTHER OF DAVID PAUL COOK’S FUN AND INFORMATIVE SKETCHBOOK IDEAS: INSTEAD OF MAKING A COLOR WHEEL TO UNDERSTAND COLOR THEORY, DRAW A SHORT TREE WITH SPREAD OUT BRANCHES. MAKE THIS LARGE ENOUGH TO FILL YOU YOUR SKETCHBOOK PAGE. THEN, USING WATERCOLOR, MARKERS, OR COLORED PENCILS, PROGRESS FROM YELLOW ON THE LEFT TO YELLOW-ORANGE TO ORANGE TO ORANGE-RED TO RED TO RED-VIOLET TO VIOLET TO BLUE-VIOLET TO BLUE TO BLUE-GREEN TO GREEN TO YELLOW-GREEN AND FINALLY TO YELLOW AGAIN. THAT WAY YOU GET ALL TWELVE COLORS INTO A MORE INTERESTING SHAPE!

## CHANGE THE VALUE SCHEMES IN THE SAME LANDSCAPE

Here’s another of Dave Cook’s exercises — adapted from Sterling Edwards

Creating Luminous Watercolor Landscapes.

Divide your sketchbook page into four equal sections. Draw the same landscape (barn, silo, and fence posts) in all four sections. In the first drawing, silhouette the largest object using black or some other dark color. Leave the rest of the landscape untouched paper. In the second drawing, leave the sky untouched paper, but use black and gray, plus lines to express the scene. In the third drawing, paint the sky a mid-tone, then use black and untouched paper for the rest. Add lines if you want. In the fourth drawing, paint the sky the darkest tone. Use untouched paper and a mid-tone in expressing the rest. Use lines if you wish to add clarity. (c) David Paul Cook 7/2013.

## SAME IMAGE; DIFFERENT APPROACHES

This idea comes from a sketchbook workshop I took from David Paul Cook. It is his own creation. He had us draw the same image in our sketchbook the same size 4 times, choosing from eight different ways to draw the subject: 1. Use contour lines or outlines, 2. Draw the negative spaces around the objects, 3. Use thicker lines in the foreground and thinner lines in the distance, 4. Wavy lines, no outlines, 5. straight lines, no outlines, 6. shaded with hatching and cross-hatching, 7. positive in black and white only, 8. reverse – negative in black and white.

I chose to do a landscape with two cows in the middle ground in these 4 ways: 1. Straight lines, no outlines; 2. Negative shapes only; 3. Black and white positive; and 4. Scribble lines. This was a fun exercise and taught me some other ways of drawing.

## REDUCE TO THREE VALUES

Cut out a newspaper photo and tape it down on one side of your open sketchbook. Draw a format the exact same size on the other side of your sketchbook. Concentrate only on the shapes you see and draw each one. Use only three values: black, grey, and the white of the paper to fill in the shapes. This means that you will have to pull like values together to reduce to only three values. When I do a value study in plein air, I usually use only 4 values to simplify the composition. This exercise is a way to start seeing patterns of light and dark and learning to tie shapes together. Let me know if you try this suggestion and what you think of it!