Finding your own rhythm
Take a look around you and notice where you might find rhythmical lines for inspiration, similar to those you’ve been drawing in the previous lessons. I’ve noticed some wonderful rhythmical ripples in the sea and sand in my recent seaside holiday. I also saw swathes of ripe corn in the fields that the train passed alongside. Back home, I noticed groups of stems and grasses in the over-grown garden.
Use whatever ways you like of making your rhythmical marks. Drawing media such as pen, pencil, crayon or inks could be used to make your marks directly onto the page. Or you might like to work with the layered media of ‘sgrafitto’ (scratching back).
If you’re working from a photograph, you already have your frame although you might like to crop it down to improve it so it focuses on the rhythmical lines.
If you’re looking through a window, you might like to frame the area of rhythmical lines you are drawing to help you focus on them – stick some paper strips onto the window to make it easier to focus on your rhythm. I’ve stuck two paper ‘L’ shapes to focus on the strong vertical lines of the clump of bamboo on the left and the tangle of fines lines of the clematis on the right.
If you’re sitting outdoors, settle yourself into a comfortable position with your drawing media around you. You might even be able to prop up a make-shift window frame to help you focus on your linear rhythms. I’ve clipped two card ‘L’ shapes onto the bird feeder here to make a window to help me focus on the huge clump of long fennel stems and seed heads beyond.
Just to remind you, you need to build up two layers of media for the sgrafitto method. The left hand image shows the lower layer of wax crayons and the right hand one, the top layer of chalks. The colour of the lower layer will give you the colour of the scratched lines and the top colour will be the background colour as you can see on the finished drawing below these.
Scratching the paper surface makes lots of grooves or indentations, depending on what sharp instrument you use. The scratches or striations on the page below was made with the point of a craft knife to suggest the waving rhythmical directions of long grass as it has been swept (or ‘lodged’) by the wind. Soft coloured chalks were rubbed lightly across the surface, sometimes with a finger, to attach colour to the paper burrs.
Liquid colour can also be used this way, as you’ll have already discovered. The striations on the page below were made with the craft knife blade and coloured over with water-soluble pencils or sticks and dampened with a wet paint brush. Notice the bonus of the print on the opposite page made when the the book was closed too soon – or maybe not?
The tangled mass of lines of the clematis (finished drawing on the right below) was made with a point into the paper surface which had previously been coated with a wax candle. As you’ll appreciate, the colourless wax will keep these areas white, unless scratches are made into the surface, when liquid colour is applied on top. The first stage of adding coloured inks (below left) allowed the sgrafitto lines to show up. More lines and more ink was added to suggest layers of the tangled lines. Notice the exciting ‘print’ made deliberately on the opposite page? This now almost becomes a part of the finished drawing.
More drawings below of grasses and stems using vigorous sgrafitto lines.
The secret of being able to capture the movement and rhythm is to work quickly and don’t add too much detail. Not everything will work out, but keep going. Look out for ‘happy accidents’ like the print on the opposite page and try to do it again in your next drawing.
Lesson 17 will be published on Monday 1st September, with four more lessons to go. The next series will be a completely different topic as we look at faces and figures. I’m going to start to go ‘digital’!