Happy New Year to all of you. This year, as with last year we need to draw deeply on our personal stamina and resources to keep going and stay creative.
I found myself drawing again – for the first time in many years. I think it was because of all the walks in the countryside… I saw little details that I wanted to reference, so I photographed them and did a drawing the minute I got home.
This led me into drawing in a number of ways and I found I was encouraging my oil painting students to do preliminary drawings to plan their compositions. By creating a drawing with a well balanced Notan we can translate it into a dramatic painting.
Notan is a Japanese word and means a pattern of lights and darks. In the West it is often used in art to mean just black and white. I devised the first Notan workshop: Notan 1: The four values.
I started by looking at four-value drawings – black, white, dark grey and light grey. I am thrilled with my students’ drawings and can see a vast improvement in their understanding of how important value is.
Now there are three Notan workshops and they need to be done in order as they build on the foundations of the others in each workshop. Click the link for more information
I reconsidered my own drawing as a preliminary step to painting, and worked in ink. Is is really just a value composition. In order to change a colour palette a good way of starting this is to plan the values, then work with them. The results could be Fauveish! You can even invert values using this system.
I can work out a basic colour palette by assigning each value to a colour as seen in the swatches above. When I paint, I just use those colours but I don’t stick rigidly to the value plan e.g. I may have pale blue instead of pale lime! I think if I had started by painting from the landscape itself or a photo, I would have found it difficult to implement a colour palette like this.
I use the four value system in oil painting workshops to teach using an underpainting or ébauche. Once you have your values painted in a thin wash, the oil painting is easily resolved. Starting with a drawing helps define the values.
Sometimes I suggest that students do a preliminary drawing in four values so that they can change the composition. Most of my students have very little drawing experience, so lockdown seemed a good time to offer a drawing workshop. I am so pleased with the results that I am offering a repeat and 2 follow-up workshops. Here is the link
I love drawing for drawing’s sake. Pencil work is so irresistible that I have included different pencil techniques using alternative pencil holds.
Here is one example – what I call the ‘Stabbing Grip’ and the swatch shows the stabbing marks in four values:
My final workshop is Notan 3 – Patterns in Nature. Here we use reductive drawing and move towards abstraction.
In each of these workshops, students complete their projects in their own time as teaching is done via email, not zoom. They receive 8-9 pages of notes on a Tuesday with a 1-2 hour project for four weeks and by Sunday night each week, they have pinned their drawings onto a shared secret board in Pinterest. For more details about any of the workshops scroll to ‘Workshops’. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Drawing is so accessible at times like this as you really just need good paper, a pencil and eraser (and a few oddments)