Exercise 4 – Shadows and reflected light

I placed two reflective objects  next to each other and light with a strong light from one side.  The two objects were a black shiny sewing case and a white shiny container.  I just used a charcoal stick on A2 paper and did no sketch in pencil first, just used the charcoal to try and create the long lines.  Although it was a very quick drawing (and I might still come back to improve it) I found using the charcoal combined with a putty rubber effective at creating the tones and reflections.

img_20161203_161229I used the charcoal stick in a variety of ways, as it was a large drawing I used sweeps of the full length, this worked okay but evident in the drawing are areas where the stick has skipped across bumps in the paper.

I found the reflections and shadows work interesting as it made m look very closely at the tones on the sewing box.  I feel like I have started to grasp drawing shiny objects with reflections and looking at the reflected shadows too.

Book review: The Artist’s handbook 3rd Ed- Ray Smith

Yet another book I picked up in the library is ‘The Artist’s Handbook’ by Ray Smith.  First off I’ll say that I am definitely going to buy my own copy of this book for future reference.  It covers a lot of the same ideas and techniques as ‘The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph Mayer’  but in my opinion is a much more easily accessible version of it.  It has details on materials and techniques but is accompanied by coloured photos and diagrams and projects on how to put into use the techniques you are reading about.

As I have been drawing with pencil and charcoal a lot as part of this course I decided to focus this review on five useful tips I have learned from this book.

  1.  On Page 64 it gives advice on how to shade with a pencil and how to practice using it without rolling the pencil for an even shading tone.
  2. On Page 65 is a suggestion for using matt polyester film as an under drawing for pencil work.  As my attempt with acrylic didn’t work this is something I am going to try.
  3. On Page 66 are ideas for trying different paper textures.  This is something I am going to try in my own work to see how rough and smooth papers affect the overall effect.
  4. Page 70 states to not shade too heavy to begin with, work up the tones gradually.  This is something I am definitely guilty of doing in my own work and so will try to improve this.
  5. Page 92 is an interesting technique for making oil charcoal and is something I want to try as I am getting really into using charcoal for making my drawings.

Reference:

Smith, R (2009). The Artist’s Handbook 3rd Edition.  Dorling Kindersley, London.

 

Research Point 1 – Odilon Redon, Two Trees

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From  – https://www.wikiart.org/en/odilon-redon/two-trees-1875  (1875, Charcoal on paper, 49.5 x 63.5 cm)

The drawing above was made using charcoal on paper in 1875 by Odilon Redon.

The artwork is clearly of two tree trunks in what looks like the entrance a forest or wood.  The trees have an almost human like quality and it looks like they are embracing each other with the tree on the left whispering something to the one on the right.  There is what looks like a path running from the front of the image and passes through the centre of the two trees and leaves the painting as some steps up a small hill.

The words that come to mind when I see this are: darkness, light, anthropomorphism, glade, wood, gnarled, rough, bumpy texture, bark, fairytale.

Although this an image we have to look at as part of Drawing 1, there is a great deal which attracts me to it and would have enjoyed looking at it even if it weren’t compulsory.  The sense of fantasy appeals to me, it wouldn’t look out of place in Tolkiens work which are my favourite books.  I also like the intrigue the piece creates, where are the stairs leading?  Are these the only two trees in the wood?  I mentioned Tolkien as I get the sense that when you turn your back on the trees they would spring into life as the tree on the left in particular looks like it is in an unnatural pose as if it has just been caught.

When you first look at the drawing you are drawn to the space between the two trees, like an entrance way leading you to the steps, you then notice the entrance is guarded by the two big trees and then finally you notice the tree details like the gnarled branch and the texture of the trunk.

There are a variety of different lines made in this drawing.  The tree on the left has twists and curves that follow the shape of the bent trunk, there are also shorter lines to give the texture of the bark higher up in the shadow.  The tree on the right has much straighter vertical lines to show perhaps it is a younger tree, it is less deformed and has a smoother texture.  Around the trees are lighter more free lines of the small plants on the path with longer lines to show the shadow from the trees.  In the centre the dark entrance is created by dark small close shading.

The shapes too are varied, the right tree is almost like a long cylinder and the left tree is a more twisted shape but still fundamentally is a cylinder.  Both are shaded to show the concave and bulges associated with old trees.

Tone is used with exceptional detail in this piece.  There are very dark areas to areas of light where the sun is shining down.  In between are a whole range of mid-tones created using close shading and some hatches.  Overall thought there is a very soft blended almost warm feeling even though it is a monochrome piece.  There are no harsh lines between the different shades and the tones blend in to create a very realistic piece of work.

Odilon Redon created this piece around the year 1875.  Redon was a French painter born in 1840 and so was around 35 years old when he drew this, he was known as a symbolist painter.  In 1870 he served in the Franco-Prussian war and so this was drawn just after he had seen battle.  He called his series of dark drawings which were done in shades of black his noirs. and it was not until 1878 that his work gained any recognition with Guardian Spirit of the Waters, therefore Two Trees was made before he was well known.

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Guardian Spirit of the Waters (47 x 38 cm, charcoal on paper, 1878)

 

In Guardian Spirit of the Waters, Redon is still using charcoal on paper to create a very dramatic, atmospheric piece.  Again there is a huge range of tones from very dark shadows around the face to bright highlights on the boat and lit part of the face.  It is a very strange piece in that it should be scary and nightmarish with a giant head floating above a small boat but the dream like quality makes it more fantasy like than frightening.

After 1900, Redon moved on from his noirs to use colours and pastel work, often using Buddha in his drawings:

705px-odilon_redon_-_buddha_-_google_art_project

This is moving away from a style that was reliant on monochrome tones but Redon still captures the mystical fantasy atmosphere in his work.  The plant towards the front of the picture for example is drawn in a very fleeting whimsical way to give it an ethereal quality.  The patches of colour in the background are a mix of tones which again helps create the unreal impressionistic atmosphere.

 

References:

https://www.wikiart.org/en/odilon-redon/two-trees-1875

http://www.theartstory.org/movement-symbolism.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odilon_Redon 

http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/90316

http://www.artic.edu/aic/resources/resource/408

 

Exercise 3 – Creating Shadows using lines and marks

For this exercise we were asked to look at shadows and use a variety of marks to depict those shadows.  I first just used a page of my A3 sketchbook to experiment with the different marks and tones I could make using pencil, graphite sticks, charcoal, ink pens, paint and brush and fine pen:
I then chose  a very simple box and tried to depict that using pencil, charcoal stick, pen and paint:
Finally we were asked to group a small number of objects and use fast loose marks to depict them.  I placed a pot of brushes and 3 tubes of paint near a lamp and used charcoal to produce this in about 60 seconds.

Exercise 2 – Observing shadow using blocks of tone

In this exercise we had to place two pale simple objects near a light source so that they’d be lit from one side.  I chose a tub of gesso and a covered tube that I hold rulers in.  They were placed on a plain piece of paper and lit from the right hand side by a bright lamp.
To sketch them (on A3 sketchbook paper) I used a medium charcoal stick.