Category Archives: IDEAS
Subjects, concepts, experiments in composition that I have either tried, or read about and thought interesting
I will be teaching a basic drawing class at the Maumelle Center on the Lake beginning September 12 – October 31 from 9:30 to 11:30 am. Cost is $45. per person plus materials. Signup at the Center will begin sometime around August 27. If interested, let me know. The description and materials list follows:
Basic Drawing Techniques:
For students with little or no drawing experience or training. Students will work from life and from photos to translate 3-D objects to a flat picture plane. Basic techniques include line drawing, the use of value, positive and negative shapes, measurement and proportion for accuracy, enlargement from photos, and perspective. Sketchbook assignments are designed to increase students’ skill and understanding.
LIST OF MATERIALS FOR DRAWING CLASS
- 9 x 12” spiral sketchbook suitable for pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, watercolor
- Medium and small paper stumps for blending
- Graphite pencils: 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B
- Erasers: kneaded and white plastic
- White charcoal or pastel pencil
- Compressed charcoal in different grades or charcoal pencils
- Drafting or artists’ tape
- Drawing board or foamboard big enough to hold 18 x 24” paper with clips
- Permanent India Ink Pens – (Rotring Art Pen, Pentel Techina, Micron, or Staedtler .03, 06 nibs)
- Pencil sharpener or sandpaper block, or X-Acto knife for sharpening
- Workable fixative
- Paper towels, tissues, soft cloths, or chamois
- Ruler and large t-square
- 2-3 sheets of 18 x 24” drawing paper
- 1-2 sheets of large Canson Mi-Tientes pastel paper in medium greens or blues
- Erasing shield
- Electric eraser
- Dusting brush – optional
- Viewfinder/red glass – optional
- Black marker – optional
Drawing a building with pen and ink only was the next assignment. A review of perspective was given to those present (see former blogs on Linear Perspective). Students selected from black and white 8 x 10″ photos of different types of buildings as their subjects and worked in class and at home to complete. I don’t have images of these because some didn’t get finished. Drawings were started however. References for pen and ink drawing were books of Claudia Nice: Creating Textures in Pen and Ink with Watercolor and Drawing in Pen and Ink. Gary Simmons book: The Technical Pen was also used.
My example is below:
We ran out of time on this because I wanted to spend the next two sessions on scratchboard drawing. My reference was The New Scratchboard by Charles Ewing which includes many experiments. Scratchboard materials were explained and examples shown. Scratchboards consist of white clayboard covered with black India ink, so it is really the reverse of pen and ink drawing on white paper. The black has to be scratched out to form the values. Colored inks and acrylic colors can also be used to augment the drawing. The materials included 3 5 x7″ scratchboards, fiberglass tools, scratching nibs with holders, steel wool, needle tools, sandpaper and steel wool. The assigned subject matter was animals — this was because of the ability to portray exciting texture on the scratchboard. Ink washes and details made with pen and ink are also possible. This was a new medium for most of my students, and they did some great work as shown below:
The first item of business when all my students arrive is to place the homework or what was done in the sketchbook during the week on one of the tables so that all can see and comment. Remember that the homework assignment this time was to draw still life objects as the negative shapes and fill in the background with designs as the positive shapes. So these are some of the drawings they did:
The fourth lesson was about doing a portrait using an ink wash for the values and pen and ink strokes to complete. The white of the paper was to be saved either by using frisket, or a white marker. Using 8 x 10″ black and white photos, the students used the grid method to reproduce the portraits in their sketchbooks. Then they mixed 4 different values from light to dark of the ink wash and began mapping in the forms and shadows. If unable to complete the portrait in class, students were to complete it at home and bring it in the next class period. Because of several absences, not all the students were able to complete this assignment.
The objective for this lesson was to use ink washes in various tones to shorten the drawing time, even out the values, and pulling the elements together into a cohesive artwork. Pen and ink stokes were to be used mainly for details and texture. Students were to use 8 x 10″ black and white photos for their subject.
All first made a good drawing of the subject on sketchbook paper either free-handed or using a grid. Four small cups were set out with a little water in one, a little more in the second, more water in the 3rd, and the most in the 4th. We put a drop of India ink in each cup, thereby making 4 different values, plus the white of the paper and undiluted ink for the darkest tone.
We worked light to dark with a round watercolor brush, and made sure to let each value dry before adding another. Layering of values could also be used. When all the values were laid in, students used their pens to complete the painting. These really turned out great!
The homework assignment was to draw a still life composition with bottles, vases, etc. but instead of developing the positive shapes, students were to break up the negative shapes with patterns in pen and ink, thereby making the still life objects the negative instead of the positive. Here’s my example of this assignment:
The second class on pen and ink drawing got serious about making strokes to indicate value, shape, and texture with several sizes of pen and ink nibs. Some students used Rapidograph refillable pens while others used disposable Hybrid Technical pens in .3 and .6 sizes. I first gave them papers with four bottle images that I had drawn. They were to practice using hatching, cross-hatching, stipple, squiggle, or contour line to value the outlined bottles. Here’s the image I used for this exercise:
After completion of this exercise, each student selected either an object brought from home or one of those supplied to draw in an 8 x 10″ size. We reviewed the steps to drawing from life:
- Draw the large shapes first
- Map out the secondary shapes (including shadows, highlights, reflections)
- Look for connecting shapes
- Use the negative shapes
Really good drawings were made of these objects using a variety of strokes:
Here is my example:
They were to finish their drawings at home and bring an 8 x 10″ photo to work from next week. We will be using ink washes as well as pen strokes to complete these drawings from a photo.
I just completed teaching an eight week class on pen and ink drawing (from 1:30 – 3:30 pm) at the Maumelle Center on the Lake. I had eight students in varying degrees of drawing expertise, but they all did marvelous work and seemed to enjoy using pen and ink. My final two classes centered on scratchboard drawing – the reverse of drawing black and white, since the 5 x 7″ clayboards were covered with black ink and the lights had to be scratched out with different tools. For this and the next six posts, I will explain what we did and show various examples of my students as well as mine. For your information, I will list the artist books that I used for inspiration at the end of the last post.
Session 1. Materials were discussed along with right and wrong usage: Art Outfitters in downtown Little Rock had been kind enough to fashion kits that included all of the materials required for the course. I emphasized the importance of the sketchbook in practicing drawing daily. Sometimes, homework assignments were given to encourage more drawing practice. When pen and ink is used, every stroke is a commitment, since there can be no erasures!
In this first 2 1/2 hour class, we concentrated on loose pen and ink drawing using twigs and ink in bottles. We went outside and chose from any of the trees on the campus for our subject matter. They were to start with the trunks and build upwards, suggesting the leaves in clumps and light and dark values to define. This was a fairly quick way of drawing, akin to contour drawing. Here are two examples from the class:
Students came back inside and were told to select a single object or their hand to draw in their sketchbook using a black marker and only two values: black and the white of the paper. This was to be a quick study of loose instead of tight drawing technique. A review of gesture drawing, sighting, and measurement was given. Here’s an example:
For homework, I passed out sheets of different kinds of strokes used in tight rendering of pen and ink drawings. Students were to duplicate these strokes in their sketchbook to practice before coming for the second lesson, which would be to draw an object from life using appropriate pen strokes and their drawing pens. They were encouraged to bring objects from home that meant something to them or their families. Below is an image of the page with stroke examples they were given.
I’m not sure I really have one! I’ve always loved to make marks on paper. My Mom told me that my first word was “Me, Me” which meant, “Give me a pencil!” I never had real art lessons as a youth because no art classes were offered in Arkansas schools at that time. My first real training came at the Kansas City Art Institute, where I felt so far behind because the other students came from cities and states that offered art classes. This was back in the 50’s.
At any rate, I persisted, and took all the art classes I could in college and afterwards, becoming a certified art teacher myself, ending up with a doctorate in secondary art education. I’m probably a better art teacher than I am an artist! However, nothing keeps me from drawing and painting. How do I get my ideas? From nature, mainly. I see something that interests me — a plant, bright flowers, a bare tree, a group of trees, the shapes of the landscape, and I take photos. I use my sketchbook to plan out a composition that pleases me. Lines and shapes, contrasts of light and dark, patterns and intense colors get me going! Sometimes I get ideas from what I read in newspapers and books or what I see other artists doing. But I don’t copy — my training at KCAI will not let me do that!
As far as media go, I do just about everything but oil painting (takes too long to dry, and I don’t like the smell). My subject matter includes landscape and still life, with some animal portraits. I can do people and portraits, but not too fond of that. Lately, I’ve been doing some pet portraits in scratchboard on commissions. When I work in color, I like to use pastel, watercolor, or acrylic, but when I draw, I like the technique of pen and ink and/or scratchboard. There is something about scratching out or making lines that fills my soul with enjoyment. It’s so meditative. A lot of my work incorporates both drawing and painting in the same image.
It might be useful to know that I always have 3-4 artworks in process at the same time. I have so many ideas, that I start several at the same time. I’m the same way about reading books — I always start another book before finishing the first — especially one of fiction and one of non-fiction. I love reading history and detective novels. I think I’m ADD, but then, aren’t all artists?
Here is one image from my “Bare Tree” series. Notice how the background colors can be seen through the pen and ink drawing of the branches. Also, note the breakup of the background into rectangular shapes and tones. I do this a lot in my artworks. If you want to see more of my artwork, go to my web site: http://www.staffordart.com – I just finished updating it. Thanks for reading! Send me comments, please.
Finished! I changed the color of the seats on the foremost boat to reflect the blueish lavender in the sea and added some red inside the small boat to repeat the color of the background boat. This was a lot of fun!
So far, so good! The beach area is finished, I hope. I tried to soften the edges between the beach front and the sea. All that’s left are the two other boats. I’m trying to decide if the image is predominately warm or cool — seems to me it’s warmer. I will need to make some adjustments on the temperature, then. Hopefully, my next blog will show the completed drawing. Thanks for viewing and commenting.
Some more work on the boats on the coast of Spain: I finished the lower boat on the left and started to work on the right foreground boat. I have started to work on the beach where the boats are moored. There’s several more hours of work to do before I finish, and I look forward to working on it. I have used blending, burnishing, and dissolving with turpenoid on the left side of the beach as well as on the overturned boat.
I will be teaching a colored pencil class January and February 2018 at the Maumelle Center on the Lake in Maumelle. Hope you can join us.