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.
Well, I’m going to teach an art class again — thought I was finished with that, but guess it’s in my “blood.” Beginning September 15 (Thursday) from 1:30 – 3:30, I will be teaching a class on how to compose a work of art at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center in Maumelle. This is a seven week class, and will include examples, critiques, information, exercises, and perhaps occasional homework. Students will use their own materials, as well as materials provided by the instructor. I’ve had many years of experience teaching this subject, both in high school art classes, children’s classes, and adult classes. A lot of the lessons will be based on the blogs I’ve shared on this site. Cost is $45, and there is a maximum of eight students so call MSWC as soon as possible, if you want to register (501- 851-4344). I’m looking forward to seeing you and sharing my understanding of composition and design principles.
I Always Come Back to Landscapes in Pastel
I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to do non-objective paintings, and they always turn out to be landscapes! I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to paint with acrylic or watercolor, and I always go back to using soft pastels! I guess I should just be myself, and stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.
My favorite subject is the landscape — could be Arkansas’s rivers, mountains, lakes, farm lands and fields, houses, bridges, roads, rocks, forests, majestic trees or their roots; it makes no difference. It’s what I love. At one time, I did a lot of plein air painting, but I haven’t done that in a while. Instead, I take my camera with me as I walk the paths of my home town or travel from town to town; take vacation trips to places like Charleston, Martha’s Vinyard, or Portland, Maine. I must have a zillion photos of landscapes that I want to experience in pastel.
Yes, soft pastel! It’s always been the easiest medium for me. I like to hold the stick broadside in my hands and be able to swipe across the sanded paper, or use the point of the stick to make drawing lines on top. The colors are there for me to use – I don’t have to mix them to get the right color. They are intense, dull, gray, brilliant, sizzling, and/or calming. I can layer on top of a watercolor or ink underpainting, or I can start with a hard pastel underpainting and dissolve it with water or turpenoid. I can use local color, complementary colors, or really intense colors for the underpainting and then layer other pastels on top. Sometimes, the painting just paints itself! What fun!
Here are a few photos of my latest pastel landscapes. I tried to show the mood of late afternoon/twilight landscapes — the time of day when everything is shutting down and the hectic, busy times are over. Time to go home and rest. I call this style “Romantic Realism” because of the emotional content. These paintings are part of an exhibit named “Where the Sky Kisses the Earth” that will be at the Searcy Art Gallery August 5-September 21. The opening reception is August 6, Saturday from 1-3 pm. I will be there; I hope to see you there as well!
This watercolor painting titled “With Strings Attached” recently won the Bronze Award at the Arkansas League of Artists Spring Members’ Show at the Cox Creative Center in downtown Little Rock. It is on 300 # cold-press Arches watercolor paper and framed to 29 x 37.” I don’t usually paint in watercolor, and this was not an easy piece for me to create. I saw the aprons hanging in a studio at the Arkansas Arts Center, and thought they would make a pleasing composition with some alterations on my part. I tried to create visual interest and movement by varying the colors, patterns,, and sizes of the aprons and shirts. It was quite a challenge! This same piece won the Wiggins award at the MSW Annual Competition at the Arkansas Arts Center and 1st place at the Stuttgart Grand Prairie Arts Festival in 2015. The show at the Cox Creative Center will hang until April 30.
Currently on display, one of my pastel paintings was juried into the Wichita Pastel National Show in Kansas — the same piece won 2nd place at the Delta Arts Festival in Newport this year. From April to May 11, I have 3 artworks at the Conway League of Artists Show at the Faulkner County Library in Conway. In addition, a charcoal drawing of my husband’s arms will be published in the Art Coffee Table Book of Arkansas Hospice. Date of publication is unknown at this time.
If anyone is interested, I still have a few copies of my book about the Argenta Historic District Available. Contact me through my website or on Facebook.
I spent two weeks painting these six “word portraits” to take with me to the Delta Arts Festival in Newport last week, and not a one sold! Guess I thought others would like the words of scripture displayed in their house. I was inspired by my priest’s chasuble he wears Sundays in ordinary time. It says “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” across the front. At any rate, here are the images — the acrylic paintings are 11 x 14″ and I’ll sell any of them for $25. The embellishments are symbolic – at least to me! Might make nice gifts — who knows! Comment if you like them, please
THE NORTH LITTLE ROCK HISTORY COMMISSION WILL BE SHOWING MY PEN AND INK DRAWINGS OF STRUCTURES ON THE NATIONAL HISTORIC REGISTER DURING THE ARGENTA ARTWALK FEBRUARY 19 FROM 5-8 PM. MY BOOKS ABOUT THE ARGENTA NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT WILL ALSO BE FEATURED: I WILL BE THERE TO SIGN PURCHASED COPIES. YOU CAN ALSO ORDER LIMITED EDITION PRINTS OF THE DRAWINGS DURING THAT TIME. AS YOU KNOW, MY PEN AND INK DRAWINGS ARE CAREFUL AND DETAILED, AND THE IMAGES IN THE BOOK ARE OUTSTANDING. I’LL TELL YOU JUST WHY I DECIDED TO START THIS 3 YEAR LONG PROJECT AS WELL! PLEASE COME BY AND VISIT.
The book on my Argenta project is finally printed! It contains images of the 25 pen and ink drawings I did of Argenta buildings, plus the history of the region, each building, and architectural facts. The book is 8 x 9.5″ and sells for $34.49 at http://www.blurb.com/b/6631540-the-argenta-national-historic-district, plus shipping. At present, you can get it from me for $35 (I’m not making a dime on it)! Let me know if you’re interested; I’m always willing to sign the frontspiece for you!
Here are some other images from the book:
Knowing about how to use linear perspective doesn’t mean that you have to be a slave to it. Using the principles of perspective in drawings and paintings that include buildings, posts, roads, etc. can become an internal knowledge that makes your artwork more realistic. However, some artists like to distort reality and in doing so, distort perspective as well. De Chirico is a prime example of this. Some contemporary artists do this as well: (from Artist Magazine, June 2010).
But here’s another way to use perspective creatively — an imaginary residence high up in the sky! This drawing uses 4 vanishing points — all related. The vanishing points are on vertical and horizontal lines. Try this in your sketchbook to work out your “dream house”!