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City Lit Fine Art Week 2 - Drawing again

This week we carried on in charcoal, thinking about composition mostly and some tonality later. Tony is such a great teacher, and never stops talking while we're drawing, (which is nice because he has a lovely voice - yes I might be developing a bit of a crush). All parts of the paper must be ACTIVE to keep visual tension high. Key fact. You just have to decide in what way they will become active and how they balance with eachother.

For me I think composition comes fairly intuitively - well - I have studied a lot of pictures in my lifetime so it jolly well should - and zooming in is definitely the right thing to do when you have several seemingly-boring objects spaced widely apart, as we did - it makes the shapes more interesting and intriguing to the eye. Tony was complimentary about my final result, anyway.

Firstly we put something down by eye (no measuring with sticks) and just started anywhere, Then rubbing out, and trying other combinations if wanted, on top. Remember the rubbings-out - "ghosting" are also crucial to the interest and dynamism of the overall drawing in the end, creating texture, telling us about the bits that have been nurtured in their re-drawing. This is another reason to carry on with charcoal, which Tony says is easy to "subdue" (rub-off) and lends itself well to this kind of drawing.

Once settled more or less on the composition, you can start to redraw by measuring with your paintbrush (it's all about comparisons against alike lengths and widths) and using horizontals and verticals. You're building things up gradually with more and more accuracy, rather than starting from one object and working outwards. Taking objects to the boundaries to be cut off, is called "delightful irritation" and captures our attention much more than a main object plonked in the middle of the paper. Asymmetry not Symmetry!!

It's all about how our eye moves and scans across the page - things pop out. We were taught a fun trick to work out what "rhythm" our drawing has. If you go from left to right and tap the vertical lines you see which are the boundary lines of your objects, how regular is the tapping? Because you don't want it to be too regular. Have your objects at different heights and different spacings apart, we don't want evenness. Think of the Rule of Thirds. If after this exercise you find it's too regular, shift things over a bit even just by an inch, it can make all the difference.

That reminds me, one of the things that I find so difficult is the having to be prepared to move stuff around, re-draw and re-draw and re-draw all the time. I get attached to the line because of the effort that went into putting it there, even if it's slightly wrong, and I hate the thought of moving it! That's a bad attitude innit! In fact, I found the ellipses of the piece of ventilation shaft so tough and the angle and width of the bottom of the skittle a nightmare - I kept sighing and got told off (jokily) by Tony, because sighing is contagious...

Next we moved on to tonality. We looked at everyone's drawings and tried to suggest where something else needed to happen in the drawing, to which we would had a faint indian ink wash (very lightly). It transformed many people's paintings. Mine was apparently not needing anything in particular because according to Tony there wasn't a single place in the painting that the eye didn't go, but he suggested I add some tonality to the interior of the ventilation shaft to make the lines, which were taking the eye round and round in circles, less like a whisk! I slightly misunderstood and added ink wash to the exterior as well, which I wasn't supposed to do.

After I'd drawn it all I tried to take a photo cropped to the same as my drawing. Looks so easy (and quite dull) from this photo!

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