Notes from the
ATELIER Practical Steps to Successful Observation Drawing and Painting
FOREWORD We humans have always had a strange urge to represent the world around us in pictures. Itâ€™s a way in which we try to make sense of our surroundings and of our lives. Painting and drawing things to look convincing on a cave wall, or on a page or on a canvas is tough. Not everyone can do it, and for that reason, the artist was always considered to be different and special. In the twentieth century the qualities and talents that defined the artist changed drastically to the point where the ability to represent reality on a flat surface is now treated with suspicion and even contempt by many in the fine art establishment. Art colleges no longer teach students how to draw or to paint naturalistically, but for many of us that primeval urge to draw what we see is still there. The Atelier movement has grown up to meet that need. It looks back to the time before expressionism and conceptualism when artists worked hard to understand form and colour and honed their skills to represent reality in pictorial form. In recent years the movement towards representational art has made great advances and in Ireland Julie Douglas has been one of its leading proponents. I have known Julie and have admired her art for many years. It has been my great pleasure to paint and draw and teach with Julie many times, and to happily natter about art for hours afterwards too. Julie is an extraordinary teacher. Her abilities to motivate students and the depth of her knowledge of art and artistsâ€™ techniques are profound. She pushes hard and helps her students to achieve artistic heights they never thought possible, and she does it all with generosity and a mischievous sense of fun that promotes a rare degree of loyalty among her students. I was delighted to hear that Julie was going to distill her wealth of experience as a teacher into a book that will reach artists and students far and wide.
“Notes From The Atelier” is a feast of a book, packed full of personal insights and great practical advice all beautifully presented and illustrated with instructive photographs and gorgeous scans of Julie’s and her students’ work. Julie demonstrates with great clarity and detail how the reader can work towards achieving the same impressive results. She is exact and thorough in her teaching method, much as the head of an atelier working in the nineteenth century might have been, but this is very much a book for the twenty-first century representational artist. The journey that each artist takes is unique and personal, but for those of us who embark with Julie Douglas as our guide, there is the assurance that though the path may sometimes be difficult, it is always fulfilling and it is very often great fun too. Enjoy the trip with Julie. You are in good hands. PJ Lynch Laureate na nÓg
PROLOGUE The direction of our lives can change in a moment. As a teenager, I lived and breathed music. I played in orchestras and sang, and my greatest wish was to go to music college and afterwards teach music. But when I changed schools aged 16, my confidence in a musical future began to fail. Just months before the final exams we were filling out university application forms, and my art teacher Mr Bogle mentioned casually as he passed my desk, ‘I assume you are applying to art college?’ That sentence changed the direction of my life. It had never occurred to me that art was an option. I was never ‘best in class’, though I had always drawn. Teachers are important! So all the energy I had put into music was happily re-directed to developing my art. I was lucky. My tutor at college in Liverpool was Doug Harker, an illustrator who painted beautiful realist paintings. He believed that if nothing else, everyone who attended art college should be able to draw by the time they left. Even then, in the 1980’s, this was a rare and old fashioned view - the ‘fine art’ world looked down at realism in favour of conceptual thinking, lauding philosophy and deriding draftsmanship. But the illustration world used, and indeed required, realism so my own path became clearer. In hindsight, Doug didn’t teach us to draw in any technical or mechanical manner. Rather, he taught us excitement and wonder at the beauty in our surroundings and that a shadow could be as delicious as the subject itself. He showed us the enormous importance of composition, design and layout: how these apects make or break the painting, and create the impact that each illustration makes on the viewer. His most memorable phrase, ‘What an IMAGE!’, is the backbone, for me, of the saying ‘A picture tells a thousand words’. Fabulous lessons in descriptive imagination which had us all scurrying home as quickly as possible to create an image worthy of his approval. He gave us the desire to create and our skills grew alongside the passion. Teachers are important. I went on to complete a degree in Graphic Design** in Norwich School of Art, which gave me a love of type, paper and space as well as pictures. I was introduced to the work of Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle, and so on... My favourite hangouts were the children’s section of book shops, browsing through beautifully illustrated books by artists including PJ Lynch, Axel Scheffler, Kit Williams, and later Lisbeth Zwerger. Books ranging from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’, ‘Huckleberry Finn’ to ‘Guess How Much I Love You’. (**Design: I describe design as ‘art for function’ and ‘fine art’ as ‘art for the artist’, which may or may not connect with you as an individual. Illustration is design, using imagery to explain or enhance a text, or to replace text altogether. It is either explaining something or telling a narrative and it intentionally connects with you on a personal level.)
I worked as a freelance illustrator in London for a few years after my initial ‘break’, which was receiving an award from the Association of Illustrators ‘Images’ Exhibition - this included having my painting on the cover of the catalogue - at the time, it was very exciting!
Above: Two coloured pencil artworks from the CPSA exhibitions, left ‘Dappled Son’, Seattle and right, ‘Boy on Swing’, Atlanta Opposite page: The front cover and artwork from Images 11.
A WORD ABOUT MATERIALS DO... buy from your local art shop where possible. They are worth their weight in gold.
DO... Always blame your tools! Art shops are like sweet shops – intoxicating, full of bright colours and so much variety to choose from. But where to start...? Start with a LIST! Write it before you go into the shop. Do not be distracted! The vast majority of the stock will not be on your list, ever. You don’t need a huge amount of paints or pencils, and you will be topping up your paper supply more frequently than having to refresh your colours. The vital point to understand is that it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. The term ‘student quality’ is misleading. When you are learning a new skill, it is important that you use materials which are designed for artists. If you use cheap materials not only will you feel that you can’t paint - the inferior materials themselves will guarantee this! This, in turn, encourages you to buy more materials, in the hope that you will find a more appropriate brand/colour/medium. Save yourself from this torture and buy ‘artist quality’ paints, paper and pencils.They last much longer, so are cheaper in the long run. Winsor and Newton are the cheapest ‘artist quality’ manufacturer but whatever brand you use just try to ensure that it is not ‘student quality’.
LIGHT BULBS Always use a couple of lamps: one to illuminate your page, the other to direct at your subject. A daylight bulb shining on your paper is an excellent way of saving your eye sight as well as keeping a consistency of light no matter whether you work in the evening or day time.
SHOPPING LIST OF MATERIALS A3 cartridge pad Pencils: F (or HB), 2B, B, H, 2H. Putty rubber, ordinary rubber, sharpener
Watercolour paper minimum weight 140lb/300 gm, Cold Pressed/Not (in other words, avoid Hot Pressed), size around 12 inches x 16inches
DO... make your own viewfinders. These photos show one cut out of card, as well as two ‘L’s. The ‘L’s are good because you can move them to create endless crop options.
Watercolour brushes, ‘round’ size 2, 4, 6, 8. Buy a recognised brand, but don’t spend a fortune - the ket factor is that the brush should ‘spring back’ when you bend the bristles. If they feel bland or lifeless rather than springy, try another brand. Watercolour paints, artist quality; Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Sap Green, French Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue/ Manganese Blue, Lemon Yellow, Permanent Rose, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber, Payne’s Gray. (Note, this is not a recommended palette range for any other medium). Plastic mixing palette with plenty of small wells for paint and larger areas for mixing colours. Kitchen paper. Masking tape. A smooth board to lean on, sized A3. For exercise 17, some materials for oil painting: Oil Paint, artist quality (not waterbased): Black, Titanium White, French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber. Acrylic Brushes, filbert shaped, size 2 and 5. Small palette knife. Small jar of white spirit. 2 artist quality canvases (or canvas boards) size 8 in x in. A disposable oil palette. Two lamps (one to illuminate your work, the other,your subject), either table top or freestanding.
BE PREPARED! If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe’ — Abraham Lincoln Time spent preparing for your next project is rewarding and fun.
As well as arranging the subject, it is important, and enjoyable, to organise your work-space. While it is lovely if you have a studio to work in, it is not a necessary requirement - some artists work at a desk in the bedroom. Always leave your drawing and painting equipment in a state of readiness so that when you find time to be creative, you can concentrate on drawing or painting.
Maximize your drawing or painting time by thinking a few days in advance about what you are going to draw (based, perhaps, on something you have observed previously and recorded in a sketch book). Pre-planning fires the imagination with anticipation of pleasures to come and preparing a plan of action gets the creative juices flowing. If you need to go shopping for something to paint, make time to savour the experience so don’t rush - look carefully at what is available, selecting objects that really appeal to you. When you’ve brought them home, try out a number of ways in which they might be placed; consider how they might be lit, whether they will be in a bowl or straight on the table, surrounded by fabric or half-hidden in shadow, and so on. These are important creative decisions, and time spent getting your arrangement to look just right can mean the difference between something worth studying or not. The way we compose and crop our subjects provides the drama and atmosphere of our artwork. This is not the work of five minutes, so be patient and enjoy the potential varieties of composition that you are discovering.
‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!’ — Benjamin Franklin
Solid, time-consuming preparation does not take away any of the enthusiasm of the final painting. In fact, the preliminaries in color and tonal studies free up the artist for an unbridled yet focused trip to the finish.’ — Harley Brown
EXERCISE 3. DRAWING & WATERCOLOUR YOU WILL NEED: PROPS – small branch or stem of red berries with leaves. MATERIALS – Cartridge paper, F (or HB) and 2B pencils. Watercolour paper, brush size 3, Permanent Sap Green, Cadmium Red, Burnt Umber. A water jar. A timer. Paper towel. Timing – 2.5 Hours
It’s a good idea to stay seasonal when choosing subjects as it keeps everything in tune with the outside world. I saw branches laden with berries and couldn’t resist them – I chose them for their brightness. Select one small branch only. This exercise is designed to help you draw in a non-pressured way. At first it may look like a complicated subject, but if you start with part of a stem, add the berries and work slowly outwards from there, you will become accustomed to looking only at small things next to each other, without worrying about the entire branch.
DO’S AND DON’TS: BRUSH HANDLING... At this point it might be worth pausing in order to give some thought to brush technique. Developing an awareness that what happens on the page is partly due to how we use the brush will make things easier, and understanding that something so simple as the amount of pressure we apply will have an impact on the results. Hold the brush as if you were writing with a pen – near the tip rather than at the far end of the stem. For maximum control make sure the side of your hand is touching the page at all times (see illustration, right). This gives you more control than if you hold your hand in the air. You may have to remind yourself of this frequently - it will be most noticeable if you are finding everything a bit wobbly. Resting your hand on the page gives a very useful anchor, and you can press harder there (ie your hand), to free up the brush. Leaning on the brush itself will always have a consequence on the page - the pressure you use determines what will or will not come off the brush. Watercolour brushes are soft, designed to retain liquid. If you touch the tip only into the water, it will take up a small amount of liquid, but if you submerge it, it will take up much more water and potentially drip. The amount of liquid will determine the depth of pigment left in your mixture - more water means a paler colour. If you have a lot of liquid on the brush and you lean heavily, then you will release a greater amount of liquid. But if you have a lot of water on the brush and lean gently, you will be able to spread the liquid around for longer without having to ‘refuel’. The difference is pressure.
use round brushes until you become familiar with how to use them, before trying other types of brush. These are size 2, 4 and 6.
remember that if you can’t see through the water in your jar, it is time to refresh it!
Conversely to this, if you press really firmly so that the brush is flattened against the paper, even a fully loaded brush will release no liquid at all! This is because the other determining factor is gravity allowing the water to flow off the brush rather than squashing the bristles.
On the next page there are some exercises which will help you understand that brush handling is very tactile, and that everything is a negotiation between you, the paper, the brush and the water. The exercises look easy – but while they are not difficult, they may require a bit of practice before you feel in control. I recommend you do these often. It can be quite soothing, especially as you don’t have the pressure of painting a ‘thing’.
DO... rest your hand on the paper like this
DONâ€™T... suspend your hand in mid air like this
remember that a watercolour painting is a complex combination of water paint ratios, hand-brush pressure, tonal values, colour mixing and layering. Add to that the observation skills you are building up, and youâ€™ll remember the look of the artwork after just a couple of hours is not the point.
EXERCISE 15. WATERCOLOURS
The peeled area of the orange is the only place where I put down an initial ‘wash’ (ie a diluted orange colour), in order to get the most value out of the white paper showing through. I then added the mottled shapes using a less diluted yellow-orange mix. This was the quickest area to complete. I wasn’t trying to be exact, but to be true to the gist of the ﬂesh. Time for a walk around, and have a short break for a drink. The background is the biggest challenge. I used Payne’s Gray for the ﬁrst layer, and mixed up plenty of it before I began. Using a brush size 5, I put down some of the darkest shadow areas under the fruit, then with brush size 7 I used a slightly more diluted version and painted the whole background. I had to work quickly to minimise the drying lines, keeping it all moving till the area is covered. When painting backgrounds, it is vital to go around the edge of the objects first, then quickly paint out towards to edges. This is counter intuitive - most students want to start at the outside edges. Resist that temptation! The photographs below right show student Rosaleen working correctly, carefully applying background colour around the fruits first. At this stage, it won’t look pretty – there are some streaks and unevenness., which are a reminder that we are painting with water. There is no going back though, and a second or third coat, is the answer. Remember to look for the dark areas, so that when you are painting shadows you don’t lose their shape. This means using your ‘observation eyes’, not your ‘general eyes’. Each subsequent layer feels different, as you are painting onto paint, rather than paper. If you want to vary the colour, add Burnt Umber, which will give it a blackness. Have fun with this, and keep on layering!
remember, if you have rubbed out a lot on watercolour paper at the drawing stage, an oily film may build up. Before painting, rub over the area with a piece of bread to clean it - it’s like magic!
On a separate piece of paper, paint a colour dot of each and every mixture as you go along and record which colours you mixed. Make a note on your paper which two colours you use at a time so you can begin to understand the differences. Be sure to always do a dot of strong mix, then dilute it by dipping the brush in water, and do a dot of that, then dilute again to do another dot - this helps you see the great range of colours you have at your disposal. Make sure your brush isn’t too overloaded with water or it will dilute the colour as it dries. Use a small brush, (size 3) to do the dots, wiping excess liquid on the side of the jam jar if need be. This is the right stage to have a break for a nice cup of tea. Having a break, walking away from the desk, gives your eyes a rest and a chance for your body to move. Stretch your arms out wide and pull your torso UP! It’s amazing how tensed-up we can become from sitting still at the desk.
Above: Artwork by Alan showing colour tiles, some test petals on the left, a trial small flower in the middle then a more finished version on the right. Several stages of preparation and trias leading to the final study.
When you come back to the desk, set the timer for one hour. Take time to consider all the mixes to help you decide which ones you prefer for your purples. Do this not by looking at the ﬂower then trying to match it. Do the opposite - look at your chart, then look for those colours in the ﬂower. This allows your eye to notice more colours, and to pick up nuances which relate to your mixes. It is very important for this last section of the exercise to let go of trying to get exact colour mixes. It is more important to get the tonal balance correct than it is to get a colour match. Once you decide which red/blue combinations you like, it is time to lay a light wash layer over the whole image (making your paint pale by using a lot of water to dilute the pigment). Use as few mixes as possible, combining only one red and one blue in each mix if you can. Begin by laying down Lemon Yellow in a generous-sized sweep for the centres, and painting a stripe of cadmium yellow on top. Paint the Lemon Yellow centres before painting the purple areas, and paint a little beyond your pencil line with the yellow. This will be covered up with the purple. It is fun to do a couple of trial runs next to your colour mixes, straight to paint (see illustrations), trying different colours. Keep your attitude relaxed. No tension. Play with it.
Move back to your original drawing. Lay the yellow on ﬁrst, then put on a pale layer on the rest of the petals. Keep it diluted and imagine that the ﬁrst wash is purely to get rid of the white paper. Try putting on a ﬁrst layer of Cerulean Blue, putting the purples on top. Be brave with your layering after the initial wash. Imagine that you are actually drawing with your brush, so that you don’t accidentally continue laying on all-over washes. Instead, concentrate of the depths of tones, making sure that the darks and lights are in balance across the image. Pay particular attention to where petals ‘touch’ each other i.e. where areas of the same colours meet (greens, blues or purples in this case), so that you acknowledge which is darker and echo this in your painting. Look closely too for darker-lighter. Ask yourself, is it a bluepurple, or is there a bit of raspberry about the purple? Then alter your mix accordingly. Use Permanent Sap Green for the leaves. Putting the green in really lifts the image. Make sure you have paint on ALL areas, don’t get bogged down trying to complete the perfect petal. Notice how some of the petals have a similar look to the feathers from our previous exercise! Paint until the timer sounds then roll your shoulders. Well done!
Below left: this white iris was drawn in colour pencil on coloured card by Sara. The dark background adds drama and impact. Middle & right: watercolours by Ben and Trevor
Red is one of the more challenging pigments in watercolour because reds stain not only the water but the paper too. This means that if you change your mind, or want to remove a mark, you need to work quickly.
Above: Left, Alizarin Crimson + French Ultramarine. Right, Permanent Rose + French Ultramarine
Place three or four cherries on to the white paper to make a pleasing group – play with the stalks to see if you can get interesting patterns of negative spaces, and turn a lamp on to give good shadows. Take a few moments to do this – try having some stalks upwards, others lying down etc. When you are satisﬁed, make a second grouping to one side with your remaining cherries. Draw the ﬁrst group. Remember not to ‘draw the cherries’! Look brieﬂy to ﬁnd lovely small enclosed shapes, such as triangles or ovals – look in between the stems or at where shadows criss-cross. Begin drawing at one of those spaces, slowly working outwards from there, looking always for nearby shapes and not rushing to get the outside line drawn quickly. Include some highlights as marker points. Your drawing will not take long - around 20 minutes if you are careful.
Above: Left, Permanent Rose + Payne’s Gray. Right, Alizarin Crimson + Payne’s Gray.
Draw the second group, with the same care. It is important to note that these are much less complicated to draw than some other subjects you have done so far. This is why we have time to draw both groups, with the added bonus of giving more painting experience within the time.
Above: Left Manganese Blue + Payne’s Gray. Right, Mangnese Blue + French Ultramarine, then Payne’s Gray + French Ultramarine
The second stage of this exercise is mixing. Use brush size 3. Take the Permanent Rose and, keeping it as dark as you can by using a greater amount of pigment and less water, paint a small ‘tile’ on your page.Then dip the brush in water, wipe off excess liquid on the edge of your jar and do another tile next to the ﬁrst. Dip the brush in the water again, wipe on the side of the jar and do a third tile. This will give you a full-strength version of the colour plus two examples of it watered down. Do the same with French Ultramarine. Then begin mixing the two colours together. Use a small amount of paint, add a little Permanent Rose to the French Ultramarine, stir and paint a full-strength tile. Dip the brush in the water, wipe on the jar and do another tile, and another more diluted. Keep going like this varying the pigments (adding more French Ultramarine or more Permanent Rose), always doing three versions. This must be done slowly and methodically. While the main reason for doing this is to help you become familiar with your pigments, it has the added bonus of improving brush control. Make your tiles small and neat. Take pride in them. Do not be slapdash. This is not something to be endured, but enjoyed. Do at least 7 mixes of the two colours. Then do it again with Permanent Rose + Payne’s Gray. Then Alizarin Crimson + Payne’s Gray, and Alizarin Crimson + French Ultramarine.
DO... be patient. You are learning something new.
Keep an eye on your water – once your water stops being transparent and looks like beetroot juice (see right), you need to move to a clean jar! Mix French Ultramarine + Payne’s Gray, then Manganese Blue + Payne’s Gray. Tea break! Have a stretch, look out the window, then come back and admire your lovely tiles. Enjoy the variety of colours you have made. Begin painting one cherry at a time. Choose a base wash colour from your tiles – either Permanent Rose or Alizarin Crimson. You will note that Permanent Rose is more raspberrylike and Alizarin Crimson is more maroon, so if your cherry is lighter, go for the Permanent Rose as a base. Work with a light heart and a No. 5 brush, which holds more water. Paint
YOU WILL NEED: PROPS – 3 or 4 pears, two A4 sheets of paper - one mid-toned, one darktoned,. A lamp. A cardboard corner. MATERIALS – Medium willow charcoal sticks, putty rubber, a variety of ‘tools’ – sponges, watercolour brush, blending stump, paper towel, eraser pencil. A3 sized thick white car-tridge paper, A timer. Timing – 2.5 hours
This is a study in tones, and the aim is to have no lines showing anywhere
by the time the drawing is complete. In order to do this, every time you do a layer of tone you will wipe across it with a sponge to soften the edges. The ﬁrst time this will feel alien, as it is our habit to try to deﬁne things with a heavy ‘line’, but one or two wipes and you will become accustomed to effect, and appreciate that ‘soft’ is your new best friend. Regularly wiping the paper allows it to accept more tonal variation, giving you much more control – just not in the way you are used to. Let your attitude be ‘throwaway’ and ‘playful’. This is fun! Set the timer for one hour and ﬁfteen minutes and take a break when it sounds, no matter what stage you are at with your drawing. Place the dark toned paper against the back of your cardboard corner, and the mid toned paper on the base, and arrange your pears to look pleasing. Make sure they are touching each other. You may benefit by turning off the main lights in the room and experiementing with different placements of your lamp. Vary its height to create dramatic shadows and highlights - aim for a dramatic effect with contrasts. If your lighting is bland, lacking drama, this will be reflected in your artwork. If your charcoal sticks are long they may snap, so break them to about 10cm/4inches. Using the side of the stick, gently rub charcoal all over the drawing area (fig 1) (don’t press hard, just softly move around the page using short strokes) then use your ﬁngers to blend it in. Use small circular movements as if you are massaging the paper (this feels very relaxing!). The aim is not to push deeply into the paper, but to move the charcoal around the surface to leave a fairly smooth tone all over. Block in the pear shapes, using straight lines only, as if you are making a box for each pear to ﬁt in snugly. It is quicker to draw in straight lines. Think of it as mapping the area, keep it loose, and press only lightly with the stick. Remember to let your eyes move around a lot, gauging spaces between pears. Include shadow shapes on the surface of the pears, including the cast shadows, and the ‘line’ where the two paper tones meet (the two tones of paper will create a background and foreground). Start putting tone onto the background area ﬁrst (ie the dark-toned paper) – press gently, and don’t try to be careful or precious at this stage. Put tone on, scribble-fashion, over all the shadowed areas on the pear and foreground. Blend with your ﬁnger or sponge and be ruthless – don’t try to preserve anything, but instead wipe the sponge over the whole drawing, so it looks like a soft-focus hazy tonal impression – leave no lines!
wait for inspiration. Go to your desk and sit down. You’ll find that inspiration arrives AFTER you start working.
Reapply the charcoal to the darker areas and, again, don’t be precious. Keep your observations general, looking across the entire areas of the arrangement, adding more tones then blending gently with the sponge. Take the risk of losing it all - by this stage, you can’t lose it because the charcoal is becoming ingrained in the paper - there will always be a whisper of your drawing, no matter how many times you swipe.
EXERCISE 27. WATERCOLOUR There are lots of restrictions in this exercise. Reducing the options is surprisingly liberating. Restrictions actually act as a freeing mechanism – we have fewer choices and therefore not so many decisions to make. In this exercise, the whole image area is to be taken up by the apples and cloth, leaving no ‘background’ area showing. Include just one complete apple, with only evidence of the bowl and the other apples. In other words, the you must select and crop according to your preference.
YOU WILL NEED:
Cut your paper down to around 30 cm x 22 cm. Lay the cloth down and make a couple of folds in the middle by pinching it. Place the glass bowl on top of the creases and put an apple inside it. Place the other apples on either side of the bowl, teasing the cloth around them to create more lights and shadows. Don’t leave the cloth ﬂat as it will be more difﬁcult to paint and less interesting visually.
MATERIALS– pencils F or HB, rubber, watercolour paper, watercolours: Permanent Sap Green, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Payne’s Gray, French Ultramarine. Brush sizes 3 and 6. A jar of water. A view ﬁnder. Timer, set for two and a half hours.
Move the apples a few times to get the best position for lighting. The photographs below show my trail groupings. Then take your viewﬁnder and, holding it at arms length, move it around so you can only see one apple in its entirety, but still see some of the others. See how much you can crop the bowl out of the view, but still know it’s there. Enjoy this process – it is training your eye to appreciate the patterns in your arrangement and shows you the many permutations within one set-up. Choose your cropping. Then begin drawing – but don’t hold your view ﬁnder in the air while you are drawing. The view ﬁnder allows you to gauge the placement of your drawing on the page, but it’s not to be a barrier between you and the subject. Put it down, and draw, knowing that you have an idea of what you will be leaving out of the image.
PROPS – 3 green apples, one small glass bowl, two green napkins/piece of green cloth - the colour should not match the apples, but be a more muted ‘muddier’ colour.
Timing – 2.5 hours
Start by laying on a wash over the whole image, mix ‘A’ for the apples, mix ‘B’ for the cloth. Make sure you leave the highlights on the apples unpainted if they are white. Painting around the shape of the lightest area will give a crisp edged highlight. If highlights are muted rather than crisp, work with a clean damp brush to lift the light areas out of your wash, using a piece of kitchen roll to gently help remove pigment. Your wash need not be very pale – everything in the set up is mid toned with some darker areas, so don’t go in too lightly initially. Ensure that from the offset, there is a clear difference between the apple-colour and the cloth-colour. At this point, a tea break is good, which gives time for your paint to dry.
DO... make a viewfinder out of a piece of grey card.
Don’t Wipe your brush on the paper towel! (I know I said this already, but you’d forgotten..)
Attitude - let yourself off the hook and relax. This is an exercise in mixing colour, not a portrait of the apples. Let your mind think you are ‘drawing’, even though you are using the brush. Look for the next-darkest areas, which will be shadows on apples and on the cloth. Identify the shapes they are creating, and paint darker versions of your previous mixes to build the tone. (ie. adding more French Ultramarine/Sap green to darken). Avoid using Payne’s Gray as it can have a blackening effect at this stage.
Keep building up tones, and let the question in your mind be: ‘Is that darker or lighter than what is next to it?’ I noticed as I layered up the apples that I used much less water even when I wanted something to be pale – instead, I used more Lemon Yellow in the mixture which kept pigment in the equation, and didn’t dilute the values. You will feel the difference to your paper as you layer - you are painting onto paint, and it will allow you to manipulate and play a little. Stay on the apples for a while, then move onto the cloth. If you are forgetting to separate the yellows in your palette, try using more than one palette - one for apples, one for cloth. Eventually, everything will be nearly complete apart from the bowl. Mostly, we can’t see any of the bowl, apart from the rim at the top. It is important that you notice this. Don’t panic about ‘painting glass’ - we paint only what we see, not what we think is there. Use diluted Payne’s Gray for this, and paint the rim apart from ‘white’/bright areas, which you leave blank. For darker parts of the rim, use less water. Once this is done, look to the base where the bowl sits on the cloth – it most likely has some very strong dark areas – put these in with Payne’s Gray too, and allow your eye to scan the subject, to notice all the darker areas. Now is the time to put them in. Once all the glass is dealt with, the remaining unpainted ‘white’ areas will start to look much brighter. To finish, in my example I added a final slightly darker yellow-green wash over the cloth to deepen the tonal value. Well done!
remember, a highlight is simply the brightest of all the light tones on your object. The tones are what make your work look 3 dimensional instead of flat.
EXERCISE 28: DRAWING YOU WILL NEED: PROPS - yourself. Please do not wear mascara or lipstick! MATERIALS – pencils F or HB, rubber, A3 sized cartridge paper. Timer, set for two and a half hours. A lamp. Timing – 2.5 hours
DO... try to create a routine.
DON’T... beat yourself up if the routine goes pear shaped.
After working on it for the last 18 months, I am delighted to tell you that I have finishing writing, illustrating and designing my instruct...
Published on Mar 7, 2017
After working on it for the last 18 months, I am delighted to tell you that I have finishing writing, illustrating and designing my instruct...