Before you can paint successfully, you have to learn to draw.
|I love drawing in church, especially when there are sleepy teenagers. This drawing started with simple analysis of shape.|
|All objects can be broken down into simple shapes and angles.|
|It's not just an affectation; it's really how artists measure.|
|Start by measuring out the simple shapes and angles.|
|Next, rough in the values. That means the lights and darks.|
Today’s exercise is based on a tissue box I drew in church. It had lovely angles. However, what you see in the photo isn’t what I saw while working. A drawing from life will never match what the camera records. Cameras lie just as much as artists do.
|Begin to refine and strengthen the light and dark shapes.|
All drawing starts with simple shapes. After laying them down, I check and correct them. I do this by analyzing each large shape. Where does the back of the box intersect the tissue column? Is the curve of the cutout fat enough? I discovered that my cube wasn’t really tall enough, so I added some to the bottom.
The next step is to establish some overall values. “Value” just means how light or dark something is. This box was sitting on a south-facing windowsill behind a person who was casting another shadow. Thus, the window-frame behind the box was in deep shadow, but not nearly as dark as the photograph. I roughed in those darks first. They helped me know how to shade the box properly.
Next, I set shadows on the tissue box itself. I am more
concerned with the column of tissue, so with each pass, I spend more time on
|If you're using graphite or charcoal, you can blend with your finger. Otherwise, use a stump, a tortillon, or a bit of rag.|
Finally, I did some blending, using the handiest tool I carry: my finger. You should use a stump or tortillon on work you care about, but in a pinch, your finger works great. But don’t blend pigments other than graphite or charcoal with your finger; they may contain toxic metals.
|Voila! I have a tissue box drawn and my pastor is just winding down his peroration.|
Note that I never bother much about my mark-making. It can take care of itself. I’m mostly interested in applying accurate values. I did this drawing with a mechanical pencil, which will never be as luscious as a good graphite stick, but it survives banging around in my purse week after week.
Some general rules:
- Draw everyday objects. The better you get with these, the better you’ll be with complex subjects. There’s amazing beauty in everyday things.
- Draw any time you get the chance. I did this drawing in church, and I didn’t miss a word. Drawing and language don’t use the same channels of your brain.
- Measuring is the most important part of drawing. Keep checking and correcting sizes.
- Start with big shapes and break them down into little shapes. If the big shapes are right, the smaller parts will slip into their spots just fine.
- Value is relative. How dark something is, is only important in terms of how dark its neighbor is.
- Constantly recheck shapes and values as you go.