Task 9: Colour Values and Still Life

This task is broken down into 2 parts so that you can explore colour further before you take on your full colour still life art work.

If a painting is going to be successful, you must get your tones right, otherwise, it’s just going to be visual noise. The first step to doing this is to remove colour from the equation, to create a range of tone using only black. We did this in an earlier task and it is the main reason for beginning this series with tonal drawings, in black and white.

It’s now possible to create a value scale with every colour in your palette. Once you’ve painted a grey scale, it’s well worth the time painting a series of value scales with every colour you use frequently. Then if you’re struggling to get the right tone in a painting, you can easily consult your value scale.

You can use a range of media too and this will alter your tonal scale and how the colours work:

For watercolour, one way to make it lighter is to gradually add a little more water to the colour each time. You can also try using glazes, creating a series of values by painting a series of blocks, each glazed over once more than the previous block.

With oils or acrylics, the easiest way to lighten a colour is to add white. Remember from our previous discussion that this reduces the intensity of the colour, and therefore may not be ideal. Instead, think about lightening a colour by adding another colour of a lighter value. For example, to lighten a dark red, you can add a little yellow.

We have spoken about complementary colours in our previous lessons and with this exercise you can now explore more in depth your colour wheel. To lighten or darken a colour look at its position on the colour wheel–what is directly opposite? This is its complementary colour. We can use these to create value and it makes for a more interesting painting 🙂

Also consider the harmonious colours to get a range of value. To get a lighter tone of green, try adding yellow, not white. To get a darker tone green, try adding blue, not black. Harmonious, or analogous, colours are next to each other on the colour wheel.

Explore with many value scales, as that way, you can choose the right colour schemes for your art work. You need to understand exactly what colours do when mixed together and this takes practice and experimentation, but it’s time well spent.

 

Some painters start a painting with the highlights, some with the extreme darker tone. Doing this will make it easier than starting with mid-tones.

When your painting is ‘finished’, check whether you’ve still got your “darkest darks” and “lightest lights”. If you haven’t, the painting isn’t finished yet and you need to adjust the tones.

When painting, get into the habit of squinting your eyes at your subject, which reduces the level of detail you see and emphasises the light and dark areas.

Mid-tones are harder to judge. Compare them to the adjacent tones in the subject and to the lightest or darkest tone. If you struggle with this, a monochrome filter will help you to distinguish tones or value in a subject. Which is what we have been looking at in earlier tasks.

If you struggle with tone or value, doing your value study will be invaluable before painting with colour. Also, painting entirely in monochrome until you’re more comfortable with tone or value is recommended, so keep returning to earlier tasks to ensure you progress. Post your work for feedback and get some expert advice to keep moving forward 🙂

Here is a PDF resource to support you further:

Colour Scale and Colour Still LIfe

…and another quick reference to support this task 🙂

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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

OCAD Studio: Charcoal, Graphite and Associated Tools

Graphite and charcoal are the two most commonly used dry media, they can be used together but they have slightly different properties, so I recommend using one or the other until you’re confident with both mediums.

Graphite is less messy than charcoal and tends to stick to the surface of paper more effectively, which makes it ideal for sketching and working on the move. However it is less dark which results in a narrower value range. It also tends towards shininess when applied heavily, which further reduces the impact of the darker values. So I’d recommend using charcoal for more sustained drawings as it can be used on a larger scale and provides you with a greater value range.

 

Types of Graphite

Wooden pencil:

The most commonly used type of graphite is a lead encased in wood, the leads are made from graphite powder mixed with clay powder (this acts as a binder). The ratio of graphite to clay determines the softness of the pencil lead, with more clay resulting in a softer pencil. Pencil grades go from 4H (hardest) to 2H, H HB to B, 2B, 3B etc. as they get softer. It is possible to sharpen a wooden pencil with a metal sharpener or using a stanley knife and sanding block (for more info about sanding blacks see the bottom of this guide).

Wooden pencils are a good all round drawing tool as they are common and equally effective for precise line drawing and mass drawing.

 

Mechanical pencil:

A mechanical pencil uses a thinner lead (usually between 0.5mm and 0.7mm) than a wooden pencil. This thin lead is fitted into a chamber the shape of a regular pencil. You can expose more or less of the lead by clicking the base of mechanical pencil.

Mechanical pencils are great for precise line drawing or light mass drawing but not a great choice if you need to lay down a lot of tone quickly.

 

Clutch pencil:

A clutch pencil is a mixture of a wooden pencil and a mechanical pencil. Like a wooden pencil it uses a fairly thick lead but this isn’t encased in wood. Instead the leads are held in a chamber like a mechanical pencil. This means that you don’t need to spend as much time sharpening, you can get a fine point using just a sanding block. As a result, clutch pencils are extremely versatile and would be my recommendation for the best all round graphite tool.

Graphite stick:

A graphite stick looks like a regular pencil but it is made entirely from graphite, making it very useful for laying down tone but less useful for fine line drawing.

 

Graphite powder:

Graphite powder can be bought pre-made from art shops as a dust in a container, or you can collect it when sharpening pencils with a sanding block. Graphite dust is a good way to apply a soft tone very quickly on your paper. You can spread and apply graphite dust with brushes, sponges and other tools (see the bottom of this guide for a list of tools that can be used with graphite).

 

Types of Charcoal

Vine charcoal:

Vine charcoal is the cheapest and most common form of charcoal. It is made by burning thin sticks of specific types of wood in a kiln. They are usually round in shape and irregular (depending on the shape of the original stick). Vine charcoal tends be quite light and harder than other forms of charcoal. So it is useful for sketching but not suitable for more sustained and detailed drawing. Vine charcoal can be used on its side to apply a tone or sharpened to draw a line.

 

Graded Charcoal:

If you want to produce a  more detailed charcoal drawing, then I highly recommend investing in some graded charcoal. Graded charcoal is made in a similar way to vine charcoal but with a greater level of control. This means that it is possible to buy the charcoal with different levels of hardness and softness (usually H, HB and B). Graded charcoal is usually straight and more regular than vine charcoal. It lends itself to sustained drawing because it is possible to begin laying in tone with softer B sticks before using HB and H for fine details and lines. The best brand of graded charcoal is called ‘Nitram’.

 

Compressed charcoal:

Compressed charcoal comes as a stick or pencil and is made from charcoal dust bound with a gum or wax. It is useful for laying down particularly dark tones but is harder to erase than vine, graded charcoal or charcoal dust so it needs to be used carefully.

 

Charcoal powder:

Charcoal powder is made from ground up charcoal and is used in a similar fashion to graphite powder.

 

Associated Tools

Stanley Knife:

A stanley knife can be used to achieve a finer point on a graphite or carbon pencil. Hold the pencil at the base before shaving the top of the pencil in a motion away from your body. Keep doing this until you have exposed the pencil lead and created a steep taper on the top of the pencil. Finish sharpening with a sanding block (see below).

 

Sanding Block:

A sanding block can be bought or made and consists of a small, thin piece of wood (approximately 4cm x 10cm) with strips of sandpaper stapled on top. By holding a sharpened pencil, vine or graded charcoal at an angle and lightly sanding the tip you can make a very fine point. You can also collect the graphite or charcoal dust to use with other application techniques. When the sandpaper is used up, just tear off, throw away and use the new strip below.

 

Stump:

A stump looks like a pencil but it is made from very tightly rolled paper that makes a point at the top. It can be used to smooth, smudge and press graphite into the tooth of the paper. It is useful if you want a very smooth look to your drawing.

 

Brushes:

You can use any type of brush as a drawing implement. Stiffer brushes can be used to push graphite and charcoal into the tooth of the paper whereas softer brushes and sweep dust away and lighten the drawing. Try apply charcoal or graphite dust with a brush directly to get different effects.

 

Sponge:

A washing up sponge can be used to create dark masses of tone on a charcoal drawing. If you draw heavily on the paper with a soft stick of charcoal, you can use the sponge to shift the dust around the surface of the paper and fill in the tooth to create a smooth and filled in tone.

 

Paper Towel:

Paper towel can be used to wipe away charcoal from a drawing, it is not as effective as an eraser but will subtly lighten the image. If scrunched, it can also produce interesting textures when padded over a charcoal drawing.

 

Kneadable Eraser:

A kneadable eraser is an indispensable tool, it can be shaped into a very fine point for accurate erasing in the drawing. Whilst it is sufficient in most cases, it is not able to erase very heavily applied charcoal or graphite.

 

Hard Eraser:

If you need to completely remove a mark, you will need to use a hard eraser. If you need to be very precise, you can cut a small piece of hard eraser off with a stanley knife. It is important to keep your hard eraser clean as it will smudge rather than erase if it’s covered in charcoal or graphite.

 

 

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

 

OCAD Studio: Memory Exercises

Memory exercises will help you keep images in your head when you’re drawing and painting from life or a reference. If you are able to remember how something looks for longer, you won’t need to keep looking at your subject so much, giving you more time to draw and paint accurately and expressively

 

These are the materials you will need:

  • Reference image to copy from; simple hand drawn shapes, photo or a printed copy of drawing by another artist etc.
  • Pencil
  • Piece of blank paper
  • Eraser

 

Steps:

  1. Place your reference image (drawing or photo etc.) on a table in a room in your house or studio.
  2. Set up your blank paper, pencil and eraser in another room.
  3. Return to the reference image, look at the image for as long as you like and try to remember the dimensions and relationships of all the lines and shapes. Try to start with the general proportions because these will be easier to remember when you are drawing.
  4. Once you’ve finished looking, go to the room with the blank piece of paper and try to draw what you remember as accurately as you can. Stop when you can’t remember the image clearly anymore.
  5. Go back to the reference image, look again and repeat, until you feel like stopping.
  6. When you’re done, bring the copy back to the reference image and compare them side by side. If you like, you can keep going or you can try again another day with a different reference.

 

Tips:

  • Start with a simple reference, even if it’s just a rectangle or triangle, before choosing more complicated subjects.
  • Memory exercises use a lot of brainpower, so don’t worry if you can’t do them for very long when you first start.
  • You can work from real subjects too, try going outside and looking at a tree or landscape or work from a still life or person indoors.

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.

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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

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!

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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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