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.
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:
DRAWING THE MOUTH AND LIPS
One of the most expressive features of the face is the mouth — it can express a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, and emotion. Everyone’s mouth is different, so look for the uniqueness in your model’s mouth and lips. Generally speaking, however, the top lip is slimmer and more in shadow than the lower lip, because it recedes slightly backward. Full lips look youthful, while thin lips look older. The top lip has a little indentation in the middle and slants downward toward the edge of the mouth. The lower lip seems to have two ovoid shapes on either side. See example below:
Be careful if you include the teeth. You don’t want them to look like pickets in a fence. You can define an adult’s teeth by showing the gums at the top and a division at the bottom. The teeth are shaded more as they recede into the mouth. Children’s teeth are usually seen as individual, since their’s are not fully developed.
Be aware of the subtle shading of the lips. There is usually a slight highlight on the lower lip. Watch especially what happens in a three-quarter and profile view. Remember also, that there is some shading under the mouth. Since the lips protrude slightly from the face, there are several tonal variations in the skin and surrounding areas. So be observant, and practice in your sketchbook.
These are some creative ideas I’ve collected over the years, but never tried myself. So, unfortunately, I don’t have images to show you. However, I’m sure with your own creative juices flowing now that we’re in a New Year, you will want to try a few of these. Please let me know which ones you like! In posts to come, I’ll add to this list.
1. Set a still life in the middle of a landscape, as per Wallace Steven’s poem “I Set a Jar in Tennessee.” Make it believable.
2. On a large sheet of paper, make a whole object and several detail studies to understand unique characteristics of the object — compose with a visual flow — flower, gourd, skull, seed pods, corn husk, etc.
3. Hang fabrics from a clothesline connecting some together and letting some drape on the floor. Turn on a spotlight and turn off overhead lights. Draw the shadows on the floor as well as other forms. Use a viewfinder, and draw only what you see.
4. Make a viewfinder with 1:4 or 1:5 relationship. Look at your world through this – both vertically and horizontally. What subject would seem most appropriate in this way?
5. Tell a story in 4-5 consecutive views. Use the medium of your choice.
One of the qualities of light and shadow is the direction of the light source. Direct lighting means one source of light is on the object; in this case, the shadows are dark and mostly hard-edged, and more values can be seen as opposed to diffused lighting. On the same page of your sketchbook, draw the same object from three different directions of light: Top lighting, back lighting, and side lighting. Which is more dramatic? Which seems more three-dimensional? How do the shadows change? Where are the highlights? Do you see reflected lighting? How many values do you find in each drawing?
- Hard Light Versus Soft Light (megamova.wordpress.com)