Task 7: Self-Portrait in Charcoal

Drawing self-portraits can be a great way to practice sketching techniques as-let’s face-it-there is no shortage of material when you draw yourself! Sketching or drawing yourself can be a great way to learn a lot about sketching, shading and proportions- this exercise will teach you a lot about art and yourself.

Task 7 comes in 2 parts:

Part 1: Get a tonal black and white photograph to work from

Part 2: Produce a tonal self-portrait using charcoal

 

The following resource will help you get started on this task:

Self Portrait

 

Part 1 allows you to get creative as well as to give yourself a great foundation on which to practice your drawing techniques. Adding meaning to your artwork makes it personal and you connect better with what you are doing.  Have fun getting your photograph just right. Some portraits will be of just the face of the artist, and other portraits will be of the whole body. The artist decides how he wants to portray himself… this is the experimental bit 🙂

Then it is on to Part 2. Everyone thinks they know the proportions of a face, but when you really study the human face, it’s easy to realise that the eyes are not near the top of the head, they are more about half-way between the crown of the head and your chin. See the previous task to learn more about these proportions 🙂

Get the major features first, lightly, to create a foundation so you can add in your details later. This way, if you make a mistake, you can easily erase it and it won’t affect the minute details you will spend more time creating later on.

Bring together the work we have done so far on charcoal techniques and observational skills. Turn the photo upside down to really ‘see’ what is in front of you to get accurate proportions.

When you are done you can ask yourself- does my portrait look exactly like the source photo? Your answer will be, No, and I don’t want it to! This is YOUR representation of the original photo. Remember, you don’t need to make an exact copy of the source, that’s what photocopies are for! Be expressive whilst following simple proportion rules to create a personal and unique work of art.

 

 

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Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 6: Portrait Proportions

Hi there,

This week we move onto PORTRAITURE!

 

Ah! Portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come

Vincent Van Gogh

 

If you take the image all at once and dwell on how many details you have to draw and how difficult it will be, trying to tackle drawing a portrait would be intimidating for anyone! You can make the process significantly less daunting by taking it one step at a time.

 

Step one & this week’s task: Portrait Proportions

When drawing, it is easy to let your brain take charge and begin to draw what we think is there instead of going with a fully observational approach, and drawing what we actually see-remember Task 1?? One way to overcome this problem is to draw lines in order to analyse how the features align on the face. Using this technique will help you learn how things like the eyes, hairline, nose, ears, cheekbones, etc. interact with each other.

Draw vertical and diagonal lines to get a sense of how the placement of the nose relates to the placement of the mouth, and chin; how the corner of the eye interacts with the neck and jawline; or the relationship between the eye and the edge of the nose…I will go on to show you how to do this 🙂

Determining the proportions of the head is an important factor when approaching self-portrait drawing. These proportions are generally common to all faces and need to be right in a portrait.

So your task is to follow these rules to sketch out a basic drawing, leaving in all measurement lines, just to showcase these rules in action. Refer to the resource below where there is a much more detailed step-by-step approach to this task. In short, here are some of the rules:

  • The eye line – typically half way between the top of the head and the chin
  • The width of the distance between the eyes – the width of one eye
  • Eye level to the end of the nose – end of the nose half way between the eyes and the chin
  • The centre line of the mouth – typically about half way between the nose and the chin
  • The inside corner of the eyes line up vertically with the edge of the nostrils
  • The centre of the pupils line up vertically with the corners of the mouth

Interesting stuff.  Test your own measurements against these and see how you get on with this sketch! It is the beginning of this section where we are focused on learning to draw portraits 🙂

Resource with a step-by-step guide: portrait proportions

Enjoy! This is tremendously encouraging, to witness as we slowly improve our skills and get better right before our very eyes. After all, that’s what practice is all about, nothing but a beautiful journey of discovering how much we are capable of.

 

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Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 5: Knife, Fork and Spoon using Graphite or Charcoal

Let’s finish off still life with a tricky one! Metallic objects with shine can really test your observation and use of tone…so a great one to bring together what we have done until now.

High contrast is the key to drawing bright reflective surfaces. So, for this task we need to know about tonal range but also; composition techniques, charcoal techniques, graphite techniques, observation techniques and a generous helping of creativity! Experiment with a style you have developed and enjoy to make this task your own 🙂

 

Tips:
Graphite or charcoal can be used for this task-I will demonstrate by using both! The graphite is good for the reflections and midtones, whilst charcoal will give great cast shadows and give that real dark contrast we are aiming for.

If you are using white paper, that is your lightest value so save that for the extreme highlights you observe on your objects.

The environment or setting in which you draw your subject always affects the subject itself. The effect can be dramatic with reflective objects so you need to consider that when setting up your still life for this task.
Working from photographs is great as you can rotate them! Great for practicing. As we have already seen from task 1 you can ‘see’ and interpret the shapes better if you turn the photograph sideways or upside down. Plus the photograph is 2 dimensional and you are translating this to another 2 dimensional surface, your drawing. Nothing beats the real thing though, so keep those real objects in their composition right in front of you.

Accuracy of the shapes of the reflections is important when drawing metal objects but with cutlery it keeps this simple as you can set up so no actual objects are reflected!  Although the contrast of the reflections is crucial for a realistic drawing: from bright white highlights to black (or nearly black). Also, have a good look at those objects you set up, can you see the sharp clean edges of the reflections? You have to be bold with this drawing and make those sharp edges apparent with less blending. Reflections are what make your surface look metallic- you can make anything look shiny with bright highlights but metallic is different. Smooth gradual changes in value will still appear within a shape, but this will not affect its clean, sharp edges. So keep those pencils sharp! You can’t make crisp edges and outlines if your pencils are dull.

Go for it 🙂

 

Check out this resource of mine which talks through the process to help you with this task:

Drawing Cutlery

 

Also my FB Iive video can talk through some of the hints and tips from the resource to show you how you could approach this task 🙂

 

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Still Life Tasks: Perspective Drawing

Task 3 and 4 both involve still life drawing. Being able to draw in perspective is an important aspect of drawing to understand.

Leonardo Da Vinci said of perspective:

Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship.

Many artists though do make the point that perspective is merely a tool and it depends on what final effect you are going for. The Pop Art artist Roy Lichtenstein, who disliked certain rules said,

People think one-point and two-point perspective is how the world actually looks, but of course, it isn’t. It’s a convention.

Either way, it is something that should be practiced and understood 🙂

The meaning of perspective used in art involves creating an appearance of depth. This emphasis on distance stems from it being a difficult and impressive effect to achieve, especially upon paper that is completely flat. Here we are attempting to convey a sense of reality with space and depth on something which has none.

I will be the first to admit that learning and practicing linear perspective is a little bit like eating your veggies when you are a kid. You aren’t sure about them even though you know they are good for you but, in the end, you learn to love them. But what is really worth remembering about perspective drawing is that if you know the basics, you’ve got all the capabilities of a 3D drawing in your hands. That’s why understanding linear perspective is so important for artists, beginners included.

Linear perspective revolutionised the way artists perceived and incorporated spatial depth in their work. Established in solid, mathematical terms in the 15th century, linear perspective creates the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface.

To create effective linear perspective, artists establish a horizon line, a vanishing point on that line, and multiple orthogonal, or vanishing, lines. The horizon line is a horizontal line that runs across the paper or canvas to represent the viewer’s eye level and delineates the sky meeting the ground. The orthogonal lines, which distort objects by foreshortening them, create the optical illusion that objects grow smaller and closer together as they get farther away. These imaginary lines recede on the paper to meet at one point on the horizon called the vanishing point.

The difference between one-point perspective and two-point perspective is the number of vanishing points and where they are placed on the horizon line.

Here is a resource to support you with developing this technique:

Perspective

My Live Session which quickly demonstrates how to create both One & Two Point Perspectives 🙂

It might just help you with adjusting those funny angles in your artwork and allowing you to see some extra fundamentals in observational drawing 🙂

 

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Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 4: Still Life Using Graphite

Back to graphite we go…

So we are beginning to bring together all of the skills we have learned so far. We will soon be moving away from our tonal work so let’s try another Still Life drawing but this time with our graphite pencils.

Things we have covered so far:

  • Observation Skills- right side of the brain
  • Tonal Scale & Universal forms
  • Charcoal Techniques
  • Composition Considerations

Now we need graphite techniques to complete our skills in observational drawing.

You can use similar skills developed using charcoal for your graphite drawing, such as using a kneaded eraser to help with highlights. Do what you feel is right for you whilst applying the full tonal range to your drawing.

The same composition techniques we have discussed will apply and you should refer back to your universal forms to remind yourself of the different highlights and shadows. This time it should be easier as you will have the objects in front of you; if your light is good (natural light by a window) and your choice of objects is good (range of sizes, forms, textures) then you should be finding it easier to observe and create successful observational drawings.

Doing some different mark making exercises will also help you to decide on your style. It will also develop your understanding and control of using a graphite pencil in different ways. We have looked at adding tone to our shapes in a Sfumato sort of way so far, but there are many others that might suit you better and give a different character to your work.

Check out this resource to help you:

Mark Making

Have fun and remember to share your work for friendly feedback to support your progress – Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and a friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Here is the video link to my FB Live Mark Making Lesson

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 3 Part 2: Still Life Using Charcoal

The final part to this task is to use all you have learned with universal forms and observation to produce a final still life drawing using charcoal.

This time you can actually observe objects and position them near a bright window to enhance the tonal range (highlights and shadows).

Composition is an important aspect to a still life drawing so here is a resource to support you with this task. Read about the different composition techniques you can apply to your drawing. Techniques covered are:

  • Golden Section
  • Rule of Odds
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Using View Finders
  • Focal Points

Resource: Composition

 

See my Facebook Live Video here where I discuss some composition considerations to improve your still life artwork 🙂

Here is my charcoal still life from the live session above…few wonky angles but you get the idea with using a range of tone to create focal points, and also can see the rule of odds! It is worth planning your still life work and using some of the techniques mentioned to maximise the final effect of your work.

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – post your own artwork for friendly feedback and discussions! see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Inspiring Artists

There are just so many artists out there to give us ideas, teach us techniques and help us to develop our own unique styles.

I have copied many over the years, for projects with my own artistic development as well as within my classroom to teach students some art fundamentals.

There is nothing quite like looking at a work of art up close in an art gallery and seeing, for example, the colours and brush strokes in a painting to learn even more. One of my favourites for this was Van Gogh! I have been lucky to have travelled to many galleries, but, as we know the internet can get us almost as close to touching the real thing- even closer than the Mona Lisa- seeing as that is now behind bulletproof glass among swarms of tourists!

Anyway, here are my top 40 inspiring artists, although there are so many more I could list. Enjoy learning about them online, copy their styles, find/read their stories and be inspired 🙂

 

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 3: Universal Forms in Charcoal Time Lapse

Watch the time lapse video to see how to add simple shading and tone to each of the universal forms using charcoal.

How it is done:

I like to sketch the outlines on top of a charcoal base. Then using a kneaded eraser take out the main areas of highlights. Using a medium compressed charcoal stick I then add the shadows and darker areas-blending into the mid-tones. Finally, as my paper was a mid tone and not white, I then used white charcoal/chalk to add the brightest highlights, taking the time to blend them together to capture the form of each shape. You can then refine your drawing with charcoal pencils or the sharper edges of a hard compressed charcoal stick to refine edges of shapes and darken shadow. Adding shadow and highlights around the image and forms gives the forms more depth.

Have a go!

 

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Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 3: Universal Forms in Charcoal

Learning to Draw: TASK 3

For this task you are continuing your skill building with using tone. By using Charcoal this time, you will not only be trialling a new medium, you will also be using much darker tones and testing how you see tones in these forms.

You first need to add the tonal scale again to the universal forms; Cube, Cylinder, Sphere and Cone. Check out the resource to see how far you can stretch this medium. Using different tools you can see different ways to manipulate charcoal.

Then you may wish to use your own photography and still life compositions to further explore adding tone to your art. Check out the resource for inspiration and guidance;

charcoal practice

Also, see me in this quick demo to see how to use charcoal in different ways 🙂

Enjoy!

 

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Task 2: Graphite Intro

Tonal Scale and Universal forms

Check out the resource above to support you with this task 🙂

The aim is to add a tonal scale to Universal Forms.

Universal forms are: Cube, Cylinder, Cone and Sphere. Once you can apply tone to all of these forms, you can observe and add tone to any object!

The great artist Paul Cezanne said of universal forms:

Everything in nature adheres to the cone, the cylinder and the cube.

 

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community where you will find a demonstration of this task- see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

 

 

Sketchbook Ideas

When starting out on an Art & Design course it is hard to know what your sketchbook ‘should’ look like. There is no real style other than ‘your’ style!

Art projects that are based on existing artists, which interest you, usually are more exciting because you are passionate about the subject you are studying. You can then interpret those artists work in your own way.

Take a look through this gallery to see how students have presented their artist study work.

Try producing your own creative sketchbook pages by copying artists work and seeing what inspires you. Take time to think about the details; every image placement, font styles for titles and headings, use of media… research into the artist and find out more about their style and their technique-learn what you can and apply it to your own work!

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Weekly Tasks

Every week we will be posting a new task in our Learn to Draw and Paint for Free Blog! Keep your eye on it and take part in our free course, getting feedback from our tutor on your progress when you submit a post 🙂 Enjoy!

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community where you will find a demonstration of this task- see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at these tasks and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 1: Right side of the Brain

Learning to Draw- Task 1
You have two brains: a left and a right. Modern brain scientists now know that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain; it thinks serially and reduces its thoughts to numbers, letters and words…
Your right brain is your nonverbal and intuitive brain; it thinks in patterns, or pictures, composed of ‘whole things,’ and does not comprehend reductions, either numbers, letters, or words.

Getting your right side of the brain working is as simple as drawing upside down! The purpose of this kind of practice is to force your left (thinking) side of the brain to give up identifying what you draw…so let’s have a go. Here is a document to practice your observation-draw it upside down

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1- upside down drawing

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