Tuesday, December 13, 2011

After working so hard at drawing from observation, for a little creative fun, we invented our own money! We tried to illustrate specific values, geographical or cultural features for our own imaginary country. We practiced using the process of trial-drawings first (3 coin sketched then 3 bill sketches) before completing our favorite idea to a finished piece.

Our Cultural Specialist, John Smith, introduced us to the moietes of Tlingit culture and showed us how to draw some of the basic motifs used in the distinctive style of Northwest Coast Native Design, like the ovoid, u-form, s-curve and trigon. We learned that Raven artists design for Eagle clans and Eagle artists design for raven clans. After practicing a step-by-step Raven or Eagle head, we created our own design, or copied a master design, and carved it from rubber cove molding, donated to TMHS by Valley Lumber (Thank you, Valley Lumber!). This was easy to carve with lino-cutters, giving us an idea of what might go into carving traditional designs from wood. We were then able print our designs multiple times, so we could try to unify our designs in table groups, and as a full class. This exercise helped us understand that a strong, unified form-line design is not just a collection of random images made of ovoids and u-forms, but a thoughtful design process, constantly balancing negative and positive space for harmonious effect and emphasis.

After completing some step-by-step worksheets on one-point and two-point perspective in our sketchbooks, students were challenged to use these formulas for creating a vast sense of space in their own, fantasy landscapes. If you'd like to try your own, or need a reference to help you remember how to employ Linear Perspective for accurate drawings of deep, spatial relationships, check-out these You-tube tutorials on My Drawing Tuturials:

A lot has happened since we finished our Major Charcoal Still-life!
Most recently, guest artist Gerri Marquardt helped us learn how to draw with light, using white charcoal on black paper, instead of drawing shadows with black on light. These are some of our White-on-Black drawings:

Gerri Marquardt is currently helping us draw with color pastels. We studied the color wheel, how primaries mix to make secondaries, and if we use a combination of all three primaries we can make browns or grays. We can use this mixing experience to help us use color for specific effect. We can create harmony or unity with analagous colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel), we can use complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) to create contrast or emphasis. Mixing complementary colors creates neutral colors, like gray and brown. If a color in our drawing look too "flat" or cartoon-like, we can mix a little of it's complementary color into it to neutralize it.
This is an interesting way to create shadows. There are a couple of different theories on how to create shadow and form with color. For still-life, some artists use cool colors for shadows and warm colors for highlights, but if you're drawing with outdoor light, cool colors might come forward, and warm colors sit back. Whatever the case, when working on black paper, start with the darkest colors first, and build up to your lights. Be careful with pastels, though - they can "fill the tooth" of the paper if you put them on too heavy too fast!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall 2011 Still Life

We had a guitar in our still-life. 
Zooming in can help focus your attention, if you get overwhelmed drawing complicated subjects.

Our complex still-life had objects with various shapes, at different angles, providing many challenges.

This little sculpture seems to come alive in Evan's still life!

Observant artists sees complex shadows and reflections: challenges that can lead to rich value studies.

The strong diagonals in this composition leads your eye deep into the artists space...

Monday, October 31, 2011

drawing studies

Value studies in our sketchbooks: Each student drew from real objects at their table with a strong light source. One study is done blending graphite, another is done with cross-hatching to achieve different values, and the last is done with stippling, for a "pointilist" drawing. Stippling works best in pen, but we had to deal with bleed-through in our sketchbooks. 

sighting perspective

We used a clear plastic picture frame to help us determine our composition. We learned to use our pencil to "dial-up" the angles, comparing them to the horizontal and vertical frame lines. Sometimes our mind insists angles work differently, according to what we think we know about shape and form (especially parallel geometric forms). Practicing sighting angles with a picture plane helps us learn to trust our eye over our mind for better 3D realism. 

We also learned to use our pencil or even a ruler, with our arm fully extended and one eye closed, to measure the proportions of things on our picture plane against a "basic unit." "If one edge of the furthest ceiling tile is as long as my pencil's eraser, how many ceiling tile-units, or reaser-units long is the window as it comes out of the corner...?" In this way, as the size of things change in their proximity to us, we can keep things roughly in proportion. 

student doodles

We do get time in class to just doodle! Students can take their sketchbooks home to finish work they start on their own, too. Here's a little sample of some impressive self-driven sketchbook work...

composition sequence

It's good practice to think about how you approach drawing. Here, students illustrate how they go about drawing something.  There are so many ways to draw. If you're drawing from memory, or real-life, or a photograph, its good to be flexible and try new approaches. 

Later, as we worked on our still-life project, we thought about drawing like building a house (analogy thanks to Deborah Rockman, "The Art Of Teaching Drawing"2000):
Start with an overall foundation - this might be a rough sketch or gesture drawing, to map out the major shapes on the paper. Then, build your framework - check that angles and proportions are relatively accurate, otherwise your "walls, floor, and ceiling" won't be strong. Finally, begin adding sheetrock (check for strongest shadows and major light sources), then paint (variety of shadow and highlight), and lastly details like carpet (textures), lights (ambient light) switchcovers (more and more refining details), etc... 
Trying to build a house by taking each room from foundation to completion before starting the next room almost guarantees a lack of unity in the end. 


comp sequence
comp sequence

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Students used a plastic picture plane to see tricks of proportion in extreme foreshortening

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Students draw from a skeleton we have posed in the classroom - We are looking for useful negative space, and learning how to use charcoal. 

Some students got to participate in an exercise where we worked on one-another's canvas - 3 un-known artists all working on the same artwork, changing canvases randomly every 3 minutes and working with a specific directive, like "Use big, fast bold gesture drawing," then "Use detailed blind-contour drawing," and finally "Draw one bold line horizontally through your canvas, following a line that goes through your skeleton and off the page on the opposite side."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Art Fest 2010

Last year it was in Petersburg - This Year it's in Craig! Craig and Klawock have been holding high awards at Art Fest in the last few years thanks to their exceptional native carving programs. It'll be a treat to see these students and teachers operating on their home turf. Here's are two TMHS students at the 2010 Art Fest in Haines, where one of the top student works judged came from the puppet-making workshop.

Making a Personal Hardbound Sketchbook

In Ridgway's experience, students take better care of a sketchbook they've made themselves. It serves as a means of communication between teacher and student, gives the student a place for a smooth development of their own ideas and drawing skills, and supports stronger portfolio-building habits.

A shout out to Mr. Russell at Seaside High in California for sharing this recipe with Ridgway! Also MANY, MANY, MANY thanks to all the kind folks at AK Litho for helping trim the paper, saving Ridgway many hours of work at the paper-cutter.

Click here for the slide-show movie on the process!
(This slide show is still under construction, but it helps folks outside understand what we do for the first 2 weeks of Drawing class:)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Practicing Different Line Styles as Value Scales

As you can see - even when we record what we see pretty accurately, everyone has their own line-style. It's been developing all our lives, and may be the signature style for which we become world renowned! Still, we can experiment with line style, and cultivate what we like in our own style, by practicing different styles. Here are some simple value-scales experimenting with different line-qualities.