Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beginning Drawing

  • Line as an Element of Design
    • Pass out handout with definitions and examples culled from a dozen books and websites.
    • Talk about elements of design, introduce concept and list the elements. Warn the students that this will come up later.
    • Focus on line, and start to show examples.
    • Use Manet as an example of psychic lines or lines of composition.
    • Use Alphonse Mucha as an example of a master of Line. Point out how the line thickness changes. Use this to introduce...
  • Positive and Negative Space
    • From Mucha's examples, go to general discussion of positive and negative space.
    • Use photo examples of depth-of-field for one example.
    • Sketch out an example of the next practice drawing, explainign the concepts as you go.
  • Hands-On Practice
    • Set up a fairly complicated still-life. Houseplants are great for this one.
    • Show how the contours for positive and negative space differ from the contours we drew last month.
    • Once the students get the concept, have them draw the houseplant still-life, darawing only the contours dividing positive from negative space. It should, essentially, be a silhouette of the still-life.
    • While they're drawing, check the students work to make sure they're getting it. One-on-one work may be necessary, and a few more examples may be needed. If they are really having trouble with the concept, don't worry too much, because we'll be coming back to this concept later in the year, and can do more work on it then.
    • (If it is important that they take home a finished, show-off-able piece, make sure they finish the contours, and then paint either the positive or the negative space black, to create acomplex, interesting looking silhouette.)

Getting the Most Out of a Pencil
  • Pencil Control
    • sharp points - fine lines, clean, very little smudging, but... can damage the paper, hard to erase, if the point breaks, you've got shrapnel doing inexpected things
    • broad edge - wide, emotional lines - blend and smudge easily - can have a calligraphic feel
    • rounded tip - rough, wider lines, blend easily, easiest to erase, doesn't damage paper
    • light sketching lines for maximum erasability
    • starting and stopping lines - takeoff and touchdown versus hard-stop, and how it impacts line quality and blending
    • smudging with tortillons
    • review - why you never smudge with your fingers!
    • pressure and darkness -- it's so easy to take for granted, but what is the actual range of the pencil you're using?
  • Hands-On Practice
    • Have the students draw a small image four times - once with a very sharp point, once with a broad edge, once with a rounded sketching pencil (normal weight), and once with a rounded sketching pencil at sketching weight.
    • Have the students look at the differences in the quality and impact of each style.
    • Then have them run the eraser lightly through the middle of each image, and harder along one edge of each image. See how easy or difficult it is to erase each type of pencil mark. Make sure to point out the sharp edge of a broad stroke made with a sharp tip.
    • Have them label each of these, and take notes for later reference.
    • Do a 'fur' stroke exercise to see the difference with starting and stopping methods.
    • Have them try smudging some light sketching strokes. Then have them try smudging the four images they did a few minutes ago, to see how those different strokes behave under the blending stump.
    • Have them create a smooth gradient, about an inch wide, from darkest at one edge to lightest at the other.
    • Look for really smooth, consistent gradation. Make sure they're getting true darks and lights.
    • Show them the difference between a 4H and a 6B pencil as a preview of one of the future lessons.
  • Pencil Techniques
    • Using Ye Classic Sphere as an example, show the students the basics of chiaroscuro (will get to spend whole days on just this subject later on, so no need to pound it hard today -- just focus on the shading techniques themselves)
    • Now, set up a still life. It needs to be a simple object, with a smooth, opaque, non-shiny surface, all one neutral color, and set up a single strong light source. Perhaps I can make some simple grey paper shapes, like cones and cubes.
  • Hands-On Practice
    • Light sketching - technichally this isn't a shading technique, but I really want to make sure the students get some practice doing this, since it will be so essential in future lessons. Have the students sketch the object using light shading lines. Check to make sure they aren't denting the paper or making lines that are too dark.
    • Parallel lines - have the students shade the object using parallel lines. Since this is pencil, have them show that they can affect the shade by changing the pressure of the line, as well as the density of the lines.
    • Crosshatching - have the students shade the object using crosshatching. Make them use parallel hatches, and not zig-zag hatches. Show how zig-zaggy lines look darker at the edges then they do in the middle.
    • Stippling - have the students shade the object using stippling. Not too much pressure, or they'll shatter their pencil points and gouge the paper. Not too quickly, or they'll have small strokes instead of dots, and uneven coverage. Slow and steady provides the best results. Most of the students will find this to be maddeningly slow and tedious... may want to pass out Ellen Million's article on stippling, since it's such a great explanation and example of its uses.
    • Criss-cross hatching - have the students shade the object using the random-axis criss-cross hatching. Point out that this is another way of using parallel lines, but that they get to mix up the direction.
    • Contour Shading - have the students shade the object usinglines that follow the contours of the object. look for an understanding of the object's topography, and show them several ways you could 'map' an object.
    • Scribbly lines - have the students shade the object using loose, squiggly lines. Show them the difference between different kinds of squiggles, from wibbles to spirals.

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