Sunday, 20 July 2014

Summer Drawing Project–Lesson 11

This lesson leads on from Lesson 10, where you were identifying shapes and drawing them at least five times to get to know them well – learning your lines, in fact!
This week you are asked to select some of your favourite shapes – just individual shapes - and not the whole drawing of a plant or flower or even some other form that interested you that had large identifiable shapes.
Choose your shapes carefully. They might be a whole leaf or just part of a leaf. They might be the negative space between two leaves.  There were so many to choose from – you just have to decide what appeals to you – the important thing is that it should have an interesting silhouette. The images from my drawings in last week’s sketchbook pages have high-lighted the shapes I favoured for this weeks pages.
Having found some beautiful shapes, now choose some extra pieces of paper – could be plain white, could be coloured, could be printed, could be recycled, could even be related to the flower or plant.
The next stage is a new one in this series of lessons: it involves drawing with your scissors! If this sounds rather peculiar, look at the work of Matisse, especially his paper cut drawings. He draws with his scissors – and it’s great fun when you get the hang of it.
The quote of Matisse, in this book by Jean-Vincent Sénac, says to “Draw with your scissors. Cut your shape straight out of the colour (paper), without hesitation.”
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Several copies of my shape were needed to explore different ways of using them in future drawings. I was a little tentative at first as I felt that I should cut my shape as accurately as the one in my drawing, but soon realised that the drawn shape might not be (and probably wasn’t) the ‘correct’ shape anyway. So I formulated a few tips to pass on to you ; (sorry these are a list of ‘don’ts!)
  • Don’t be tempted to trace the original shape in your drawing, then re-trace onto the coloured papers. Each traced shape will become less and less interesting as you inevitably skim the curves and points in this process.
  • Don’t be tempted to make a template of your shape and use this to draw around on different coloured papers, the shape will gradually deteriorate visually for the same reason as above.
  • Don’t be tempted to cut your shape from several layers of paper at the same time. You might feel smart to think of this, but the shapes you produce will likely be ‘poor’ copies.
One aid you can give yourself is to cut or rip your coloured paper up into square or rectangular units first so that you are cutting your shape out of a standard sized piece of paper. This shape was cut four times from a strip of paper, giving them all uniform heights. This also created some rather wonderful negative shapes which were also great to work with.
DO cut your shape out of one layer of paper, looking at the original shape more carefully than your scissors (obviously keep your fingers away from the cutting blades!)
DO hold the scissors in the hand you normally use for holding scissors and keep this same arm steady and close to your body.
DO hold the coloured paper in your other hand and use this hand (and arm) to rotate the paper around to make the paper do all the moving so the cutting line is made where you wish it to be. This takes some practice of course, but before long, you’ll find yourself’ drawing’ your cut shapes with control and expertise. Each shape will be slightly different and will probably evolve each time you cut it. You can see the shapes I cut, inspired by the water lily leaves, the negative space between the leaves in the drawing on the yellow paper and the two curvy petal shapes in the bleach and ink drawings at the bottom.

Now to enjoy playing with these shapes!
First try placing them back on to the original drawing – or even onto the reverse side of the page if the ink/bleach shows on the reverse.
Use the negative shapes as well if you can find a good place. Incorporate a shape or shapes into a different drawing of the same object even though that shape doesn't appear there; it will still seem to ‘belong’.
Glue your shapes firmly in place so that they hold still and any further drawing/scribbling’ doesn’t curl back corners.
The shapes above right were crayoned over the edges to blend them into the drawing below and the shapes below were blended in with crayon plus lines of felt pen. You can see the detail of these lines on the white shape  in the close-up image below them.
Above - close-up detail of crayon and pen lines.
The shapes of the water lily leaves were blended in with continuous swirling lines that relate to the shapes of the water lilies and the water surface between them. Note that having ‘learnt my lines’ from the drawings I did last week, I was confident that the lies I would add would echo those of the same character of the leaves.
You don’t have to return your cut shapes onto your original drawing, you can make compositions onto fresh sketchbook pages and then add further drawing marks to them to make them more interesting. These added marks should be sympathetic to the character of the shapes themselves or to the character of their surroundings such as the water ripples in the case of the water lilies.
It’s fun to work out different compositions and to discover ways in which your shapes could be placed or even slotted together. Lines that reflect the curved edges of these shapes and of the curved edges of the leaves themselves have been added to this composition, created in greens and pinks.
These very curvilinear shapes below have been drawn into with felt pens and pencils to exaggerate their character. The two drawings on the right below use the negative shapes with a possible addition of a couple of plain positive shapes (i wondered whether I have over-done the drawn lines and made it too ‘busy’). The plain shapes perhaps give a couple of peaceful islands for the eye to rest on. What do you think?
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The final thought for this lesson is that you can draw into plain white applied shapes onto fresh sketchbook pages. Rubbing a soft pencil, crayon or charcoal around the cut edges and smudging them inwards makes quite a rounded 3D sort of effect. Scribbling in one direction also emphasises the edges and therefore the shapes in an interesting way.
I hope you enjoy cutting shapes instead of drawing them this week.
Next weeks lesson will be on Tuesday 29th July and will be based on drawing moving shapes – I’m going to the Commonwealth games next weekend so will be seeing lots of action!.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Summer Drawing Project – Lesson 10

‘Five a day’

We are advised to take ‘five a day’, so my drawing project this week asks you to ‘draw five a day’. The previous lesson asked you to draw an object like a jug using a continuous line and making it very fast – just a few seconds.

This lesson asks you to draw an object five times; each drawing in quick succession. So settle yourself in front of your object with drawing materials close at hand.

Choose an organic object, perhaps a large flower head or a group of leaves. Don’t choose something that is too complex. I felt I was a bit too ambitious in this group of leaves and the lily pads below and gradually cropped down my range of leaves as you’ll notice in both.

Choose a marker you like working with and use this for each of the five drawings.If drawing outdoors, use a clip or rubber band to stop your pages flapping around.


Look for SHAPES and record shapes which interest you in your object or group of objects.


You’ll probably notice many different types of shapes within your objects. Draw lines around the shapes you see. 

OUTLINE SILHOUETTE - Initially you’ll see shapes that are defined by their actual edge. This is an obvious shape and not always the most intriguing, so keep looking for other shapes to make your drawing more interesting.

OVERLAPPED SHAPES - Perhaps one shape overlaps another, as in these leaves, suggesting my leaf shapes are ‘nibbled’ or cut off. The overlapping leaves look odd shapes and not ‘standard’ leaf shapes because of this.

SHADOWS AND HIGHLIGHTS– Perhaps a shape casts a shadow over another, so draw the shape of the shadow too – you could block it in with your marker.  Perhaps there are shiny shapes on a surface that forms a shape – you could include this shape?

SPACES BETWEEN - Get to know the shapes of the spaces between if you have gaps. These will offer shapes that relate to your objects as they will contain elements of their surroundings.

SURFACE DETAIL - Perhaps there are other shapes on the surface of your object – patches of colour, shadows of ripples or a curved surface?


Get to know what each shape within your view looks like and how to draw them. You’ll get better and better, the more often you draw it.

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Repetition is important as this helps you to get to know the shapes in your object well. Matisse said “Draw every object again and again to really understand it. I draw a subject repeatedly until I feel it’

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Change your drawing marker if you wish; narrow your field of vision; keep looking at the same subject

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Biro, oil pastel and felt pen used to draw the lily pads. The drawing above was drawn with two pens taped together to suggest the reflective quality of the shapes in the water.

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These drawings of the large flower head have been done with black ink and two different types of brushes – a long, soft one (above) and a wide, stiff one (below).

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Both types of brushes made their own character of line and were less controllable but fun to draw with. You learn to control them by using your wrist and fingers to twirl the handle around to make wide and narrow lines. Letting the ink run out gives more variety to your lines


If you’d like an extra challenge and don’t mind working with bleach, especially if you’re sitting out-doors, Try a tester page as below with different inks you might have. I tried writing ink (Quink), ‘spent’ cold water dye, Brush and an artist ink.

A thin, liquid bleach was applied with an edge of a piece of scrap card and an ‘ear bud’. Bleach will dissolve and ruin your brushes!


Cover some pages in your sketchbook with a black or coloured ink that you know is beachable.


Put a small amount of bleach into a small jam jar and label it. The drawings below ere done with  ‘pens’ made of two different widths of cardboard. Black ink could also be applied with this type of ‘pen’.

It’s interesting to note the  ‘shadow’ left by the bleach on the back of the sketchbook page of the left hand drawing.



The next lesson will be published on 21st July – and this time, get your scissors ready!