Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lesson #13 Tweaking and Refining Your Artwork

Last week we practiced perspective and shadows by painting overlapping pillows. This week we are going to review a few things.

When you spend many hours on your artwork you begin to see it in a way that isn’t reality. You need fresh eyes and a new perspective. There are several ways to do this. One is to put your work away, take a break, and look at it again later (maybe a week later!). Another way is to have someone else look at it to give their opinion. You can also stand way back across the room and view it from a distance. One of my favorites is to look at it through a hand-held mirror. Make sure you take it off your drawing table and display it in a vertical, upright position. Easels are good for this purpose. The point is to look at it from a fresh perspective.

I noticed something that could be changed in the first painting of these pillows. Can you see the difference in the second view? Notice the shadow under the white and blue pillow. The first picture indicates the pillows lying on a shiny reflective surface. The second, on a non-reflective surface.

How many times have you done a portrait, it looks beautiful, but it doesn’t look like your subject? Here is a way to get the features right using the grid method. Draw a smaller grid within the larger grid lines over the areas you want to work on (eyes, nose, mouth, jaw line, etc.). Make sure to draw your lines lightly so you can erase them easily later. (Review my lesson on the grid method if you missed it)

Shading is critical to any piece of art (except abstract art). Here is an exercise to see if you can see subtle differences in shading. Try to duplicate each square in the square below it. The first square is just shading, and the second is an example of how it is applied with drawing an eye.

Here is a tool I have used to establish value (lights and darks) in a drawing. Take a piece of paper (I used a card stock – just a little thicker than printer paper) and scribble on it with a pencil from light to dark.


Now smear it with a tissue, cotton ball, or your finger so it is smooth.

Trim the edges with a scissors and punch holes about 1” apart with a paper punch.

Make a black and white print of your reference photo and use your new shading tool by holding the holes over different areas of the photo to see actually how dark or light certain areas are by looking through the holes. You can then hold your tool near different areas of your drawing so that you sketch the values (lights and darks) accurately.

You can also make a color tool the same way. But that is for another lesson!

These few little suggestions will make a big difference in the outcome of your drawing.


Now take a minute to practice overlapping. White out the lines of items you want to be under other items. Click and drag my pictures right onto your desktop, and trace or print it from your printer.

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