New Works from the Studio of Art by Wendy
They are black. How can you create form with them? Yes, the light side really starts the progress and if the subject is small it can do all the work for you. But sometimes you want more. . .
Max - Graphite - A Work in Progress. (Anyone that has had a puppy will know he is a work in progress in more ways than one.)
Take for example my new puppy Max. ( Of course you knew it wouldn't belong before I drew him.) He is black, with brown markings on his chest, legs, feet and nose. However in the sunlight he is really just black. Doesn't even have eyes! What can you do?
First of all in photographing your subject, pick a day when the sun is not really bright. That harsh strong light creates really dark shadows in your reference material. If your camera allows for changing the settings, you can experiment with aperture settings to get more depth. I know for many of you that is not an option. So pick a day/place that has the softer lighting.
Now your are ready to draw. (Or paint). In your mind assign a value to different parts of the picture on a scale of 1 to 10. For me 1 is white and 10 is my blackest black.
Remember that Value Scale you learned about a long time ago? Here is where you need it.
My first job is to lay down a light layer of about a value 3/4. (This is like blocking in your colour for a painter). Then I find my darks. I mean my 10's. After that I look for 9's. Usually right beside my 10's as in the case of his curls, they are the gradation place for a value change. If your photos has just large black holes, that are 10's break them down to sculpture the shape. The side of a leg is not flat so it can't all be a 10. When working with black subjects you really need to challenge yourself to see the different values. If you think in terms of 10 values and make comparisons you will see that everything is not just an 8, 9 or 10. You will start to see some 5, 6 and 7's. That is when your form will start to shine through and you subject comes alive.
Max is only partially complete but you can already see that darks around his front leg, which is shadowed have several values that sculpture the shape. (He is a new puppy and I think all you dog people fully understand why his picture is only a work in progress.). See the finished picture here.
Take a new look at your subject. Study your reference and start to find the values in the shadows - it doesn't have to be big black hole in your work.
Working with the shadows in Black Subjects is part of my Shadow Series. I know you hear all about the light in your pictures but dealing with the shadows in an important part of giving your subject form and mass. This series starts here when you Meet the Terminator.
If you missed my last post series on Drawing Tips for summer fun check them out. It is a four part series starting here.
Special Note: Looking for a fun Plein Air Painting Festival centered on an historic site? Right here in the Fraser Valley. August 26, 27, & 28. Prizes for everyone at all levels. $15 - www.kilby.ca to register and get more information. See you there.
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