Task 3- Part 2: Charcoal Still Life

After you have trialed and experimented with using Charcoal on different papers, you should take on a still life drawing to test your technique.

Universal forms now need to be tested in observational drawing. Finding objects that are interesting on their own, or mixed with other objects that altogether have a range of forms, is a good challenge for you to take on.

Less is more. One object or three objects…don’t go too far. Think of the scale of your piece-it can be bigger than what you did for graphite-especially if you are using blocks of charcoal.

Composition is important. If doing fruits, think of their interesting textures from inside as well as outside. Zoom in and think about placement on your final page.

Whole objects are not necessary and can focus your observation and make the piece more interesting too.

So get a photo of a set-up. Make it tonal so you can easily see the range of tones you create. These can be made very good when using natural light. Have the objects in front of you, as well as the photo, so all your references are there to do a great observation.

What paper will you use? This would have been decided from your previous trials with charcoal. Brown parcel paper perhaps to make the scale larger and involve white chalk too? White A3+ paper to capture some textures and work on main shadows? See my previous demonstration on Facebook Live (link below) to see how to practice charcoal basics first.

Make time to set the composition and trial many variations before deciding on the final one. Do careful observations of the main forms and objects, then you can start to add the tones and details.

 

I will demonstrate in my next facebook live how I go about a still life using charcoal, in case you are anxious to start.

See you there 🙂

 

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

OCAD Studio: Cast Shadows

Watch the accompanying video lesson to get a better idea of the concepts explained below.

Notes

  • The softness of cast shadows is affected by the consistency of the light rays.
  • If the object is very close to the surface it is casting a shadow onto, then the shadow will be harsh.
  • However, if the object is far from the surface it is casting a shadow onto, then the rays will be more scattered, resulting in a softer shadow.
  • Similarly if the source of light rays is strong and direct (like the sun or a spotlight) then the shadow will be more harsh.
  • If the source of light is diffused, causing scattered light rays (like an ambient light or overcast daylight) then the shadow will be soft.
  • Following on from this basic concept, as the shadow moves further from the light source, it will become softer. So you will notice that the edge of the cast shadow closest to the object will be sharp and the edge further away will be softer.

Exercises

  • The first exercise is to just spend time observing cast shadows in your everyday life. You don’t need to draw or paint, just look at the shadows around you.
  • How do shadows look on overcast days vs. sunny days?
  • As an object moves closer to a surface how does the shadow change?

 

  • Once you spent some time observing shadows around you, try drawing some simple objects from life
  • For example; a piece of fruit on a table or a piece of furniture in a room.
  • Finally, try drawing some landscape, focusing on the types of shadows cast under different lighting conditions (sunny vs. overcast).

Task 3-Part 1: Universal Forms in Charcoal

Drawing the universal forms is great practice before taking on more challenging still life drawing. It allows you to learn about how light and shadow work on the main forms for all future drawing. It also gives you chance to experiment with a new media…in this case, charcoal.

There are many ways of using charcoal so get a range of equipment to experiment fully before deciding which is the best way for you:

You are aiming to produce each of the main forms: Cube, Cylinder, Sphere and Cone, using your charcoal media.

To get a richer experience, do try to leave the confines of a sketchbook. Larger pieces of paper work very well and allow for different expression of markings. Being able to smudge easily, you will find covering large papers much easier than with graphite.

Try white paper, but also tonal and black papers. I like to use brown parcel paper as it has a bit of texture, it’s cheap, and you can buy a roll and have the freedom to cut it to any size you want. For the darker paper choices, there is one piece of equipment missing from the image above that is worth having….white! White charcoal or even chalk, is a great to get the highlights onto the paper and to create your full tonal range.

So you can try creating each of the forms in turn (recommended) and also an arrangement all together, so that you can think more about shadows from neighbouring objects.

I will demonstrate in our facebook live sessions the different ways to use charcoal…I sure you will really love this media, as I do! See you there 🙂

 

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