This exercise fell into two parts: (1) Practicing using four different drawing tools to make shading with lines and spotting techniques and (2) Quickly drawing four objects using shading to make them look 3D.
(1) Mark Making… different media
This was great fun and I stuck to my set time – 1 hour.
Before I started I thought the Dip Pen would be the hardest to use, the least precise (it would keep blotching) and the pencil would be the best because I could vary the pressure and thickness of the line.
That’s not what happened.
The pencil kept breaking – don’t buy Derwent pencils. Next time I’m going to use an expensive art pencil. It was a 4B but I couldn’t get a sharp point and changing the pressure just made it splinter… which meant I couldn’t get a hard edge, vary the thickness or darkness.
The biro was like a watered down drink. Somewhere in there there had been something tasty but what came out never came into focus, it looked and tasted ‘grey’. Useable in an emergency but not satisfying.
My drawing pen gave me control and sharpness but it was frustrating as it gave me the same amount of ink all the time and I couldn’t vary the line – the dots were variable from a stipple to a large dot by circling the pen.
Surprisingly my old dip pen shone. It was easy to use. Clear. Flexible… could create a variety of lines and ‘dots’ with ease. And made a sharp black line that was very satisfying.
Easily my favourite.
It was fun exploring the dots as it was easy to vary the size and spacing… you could do long lines, curvy lines and make them come closer together and wider apart… and a variety of hatching.
My problem was unless they were attached to a shape the shading was an abstract 2D drawing not 3D shading, so I started making solid objects. I then found I wanted to both make the 3D shapes fit together and to make little vignettes. Tiny scenes I understood be they fantasy or real. The dip pen wavy lines reminded me of a beach.
Then I wanted all the shapes to relate to each other on the page. This is not what the exercise was about but it was a big pull.
What it made me realise is that you have an almost infinite number of ways of creating shading using lines and marks and only experience will tell you which works in any give drawing.
(2) Creating shadow on four simple objects using lines and marks.
This exercise reminded me of the pages I read in Experimental Drawing on closure. Because you didn’t have a line yet your mind made up the edges of the shapes. And the 3D objects themselves.
The hardest part of this was stopping myself drawing lines round the edge of objects – but it was fun too. We were allowed a very loose line drawing so I sometimes used that but tried not to. It was also very difficult to get a sharp narrow highlight, which was easy with the conte crayon n the last exercise.
In the ‘Tips’ there’s a note that the shadow is always joined to the shape (unless it’s hanging in the air.) It may sound obvious but I found this extremely useful and used it on almost every shadow.
This was another lesson (for me) in doing without lines. It was almost like magic when objects appeared on the page. Like developing a negative. Suddenly these marks became solid objects.
I particularly like the rectangle done with the drawing pen. It’s just dots but it looks like a cube.
That’s really cool.
Surprisingly the biro worked quite well especially on the orange where I used it in a very loose way. Almost looking at the object rather than the paper when I was doing it. Just like the charcoal it felt like I was moulding physical shapes rather than drawing something separate from me.
As the orange was pitted I wanted to put those marks in… which gave me the idea I could combine the hatching and spotting techniques on one area to create shading. As well as make them part of the texture of the object.
This ‘technique’ carried over to the rest of the shadings.
The time ran away and this took two hours… which is seven and a half minutes a shading. I tried to work faster but it seemed to take as long as it took. I wanted to be able to do it in a few accurate strokes instead of working it to death but couldn’t.
Mind you, in retrospect maybe seven and a half minutes a shading isn’t too slow?
Ironically, the only one I finished quickly – two minutes – was the Dip pen Orange… and it’s my favourite. (I managed to resist the urge to keep working it!). That’s what I’d like to work towards… being able to capture the essence quickly in as few a lines as possible. I also like the shadow on this the best and I banged that in in seconds.
It has a freshness and bite the others lack. A simplicity that captures it more than the heavier working… and it’s my orange.
All in all a good exercise both in finding how flexible and clear the dip pen is, how you can create 3D shape using lines and marks and that a few well placed marks are better than lots of overworked marks.
And what a genius Picasso was!