Today I decided to draw my family's new living room table to give myself practice drawing glass, using graphite. Glass, as you probably know, is very smooth. As such, I must keep my shading smooth while drawing it. This is not as easy you might think, as the edges of my shading tend to get ragged if I’m not careful. I had to give my full attention to what I was doing with my pencil while I worked on this. My pencils also needed to be as sharp as I could get them if I was going to achieve the level of smoothness I was after.
I looked carefully at the rims of the circles and saw that there was some very thin, very dark shading around them. This provided necessary contrast, which brought out the reflective nature of the glass and made it look more three dimensional, as did drawing the reflection of the shutters.
While I worked, I didn’t think about the fact that I was drawing a glass table. I only thought about where I was putting each bit of shading, how dark the shading needed to be, and about keeping the edges of that shading as smooth as possible. When I stepped back from it, I saw it come together, though.
The community I live in has an art group, which I'm apart of. Every month, there's an opportunity to have our work displayed in an informal hanging. The theme for next month’s is Impressionism and abstraction. I’m not much for abstract, but I thought I’d try my hand at planning an impressionistic painting. I’ve chosen to do a painting of a parrot in a tree that I snapped in Trolley Barn Park. I turned up the contrast on the photo so the lighting would look more interesting.
I’ve been going back and forth with myself whether to do the painting in watercolor or acrylics. If I’m going to do it in acrylics, I need to order a different type of canvas than the one I have. The impressionistic style involves putting a lot of paint on the canvas, which requires a heavy weight surface. I still have some sheets of 300 lb watercolor paper that I had to buy for that workshop I took though, so I’m leaning toward doing the project in watercolor.
Some principals I’m going to follow are:
1: Use large brushes, no liners, and use the whole body of the brush, not just the tip.
2. Hold my brushes far back on the handle. Both of these principles will prevent me from being able to add a lot of detail, which we don’t want in impressionism. Rather, we want to rely on our shadows and highlights to give our subject shape.
3. (In acrylics) Use lots of paint and let my brush strokes show.
After all this, though, I realized I was being a little over ambitious. I wasn’t going to have time to complete this painting before the next art hanging. Luckily, I happened to have a painting already done in an impressionistic style, which is this one.
I painted this during one of Lisa Clough of Lachri Fine Art’s paint alongs. You might notice it’s very reminiscent of Van Gogh. That was done on purpose.
I would like to paint the picture I was planning above. It just won’t be for this show.
This teaches me a lesson about keeping up with what’s going on in my community and planning ahead.
I realized that I use less than 5% of the materials in my pencil box. I’ve decided to try doing a project using my neglected materials to see if I have a good excuse for not using them. I’m a little nervous. What if I hate these materials? Well, if I don’t like working with these pencils, I can throw them out or donate them. If I do like them, I can commit to using them more often.
I started by using a 2H pro art pencil for my outline. I used a 4b pencil for medium to dark shading and an h pencil for light shading. The h pencil came out darker than I thought it would. I used a sepia pencil for the darkest shades.
Do I hate these pencils? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I found them to be very smooth and enjoyable to work with.
I had been shoving these pencils, which are mostly from Pro Art, in favor of my Koh-I-Noor pencils for years. It’s funny how we can get so used to using a select few products that we almost forget our other materials exist, even if there’s nothing objectively wrong with them.
I hereby give you permission to make bad art. In fact, I encourage you to make bad art, if, by trying to avoid making bad art, you’re not making art at all. In my post on making art a habit, I said what you make during your art time doesn’t have to impress anyone. It can be utter crap.
I said that you can make great art in any medium and that’s true, but you won’t be able to make great art in any medium when you first start out with it, or at least, that’s how you’ll feel. I’m saying this as much to myself as I am to you. I need to get over my fear of making art that might not be up to the standards I’ve set for myself.
I just keep thinking of the “two crappy pages a day” that writers swear by. Making bad art could lead to you making good art in the future.
You might consider sketching or doodling also. There’s something very satisfying about creating something without actually worrying about the outcome. That’s what I was doing when I made the picture at the top of this post.
Create, learn, and have fun.
Painter of portraits and wildlife