Last Thursday night I went to our local art museum for a free program they have there called Drawing in the Galleries. The program is led by Kelly, an artist and museum employee. We’re taken into the galleries to do some drawing. Each week she chooses a theme for the evening and then leads us through some drawing exercises to practise the theme. While we sketch, Kelly comes around to offer some advice and support to help us refine our skills.
My sketch of one of Tom Benner’s beaver sculptures
The theme that night was shading. Our first sketches were done in one of the Tom Benner’s Call of the Wild exhibits and the focus was on the darker shades, the sculptures being things such as beavers, a wolf, a canoe, and a large sphere done in dark tones. We had 16 minutes to complete this sketch.
My sketch of one of Tom Benner’s donkey sculptures – I had an especially difficult time with this one because the sculpture is very light and luminescent in colour
The next sketch was done in another section of Benner’s exhibit; this time being given 20 minutes to focus on the lighter shades as we sketched our choice of a whale, some donkeys, or whale fins.
A sketch I did at home from a photo; I practised a lot of the hatching and cross-hatching in this one
For the final sketches, we were given 13 minutes to sketch part of a large piece of wall art made of car bumpers and side panels. They were all painted in the same colour of blue but jutted out from the wall almost like boats or whales in the water. Their placement and the lighting created a great play of light and shadow which gave us the opportunity to practice hatching, cross-hatching, and tonal drawing. (I don’t have a sketch to show for this as 13 minutes was not nearly enough time to really make any progress – I’ll be going back to the museum to finish my sketch and to work on the other two some more.)
Things I learned that night:
1) I don’t work well with time limits when I’m sketching. I like to take my time and dawdle over my sketches and the time limits made it much tougher for me. I also found the sketching we did during the Exquisite Corpse warm-up http://cynchronicity.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/the-exquisite-corpse/ very challenging as I don’t sketch well from my imagination. I need to see an item or a picture in front of me as a guide.
2) I already knew about hatching and cross-hatching but haven’t used these techniques in years so it was a good reminder. Hatching involves using a series of parallel lines placed close together to create the shading. Cross-hatching begins as hatching but then you change the directionality of the lines – perhaps the first set are horizontal, the next vertical, the next diagonal, layering one set over top of the next. The area gets darker and darker the more layers of pencil lines you put there.
3) Although I’ve seen tonal shading before, I didn’t know what it was called nor have I ever used it. I attempted it in parts of my drawings but definitely need more practice at it. Tonal shading is done where you gradually make your shading lighter or darker so that it slowly blends/fades from one shade to the next without any actual lines of delineation. For example, this can be done to form the outline of an object or a section of an object just through the shading without drawing actual lines to form the object.
Here’s a great link that shows tonal, cross-hatching, and linear shading techniques (linear being their word for hatching): http://www.mmwindowtoart.com/drawing/values&line.html
Check out the other participants in Sunday Sketches here: