WetCanvas
Home Member Services Content Areas Tools Info Center WC Partners Shop Help
Channels:
Search for:
in:

Welcome to the WetCanvas forums. You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions, articles and access our other FREE features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload your own photos and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please visit our help center.

Go Back   WetCanvas > Explore Media > Pastels > Soft Pastel Learning Center
User Name
Password
Register Mark Forums Read

Salute to our Partners
WC! Sponsors

Our Sponsors
 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-08-2005, 12:45 AM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Welcome to the February installment of ESP--Exploring Soft Pastels. This month I thought I'd get back to basics with you. When we asked what folks wanted some of you mentioned compositional needs. I thought instead of trying to do it all in one fell swoop--which is IMPOSSIBLE anyway--that I'd start with a good beginning lesson on drawing upside down.

Many of you may have done this before and might be thinking it's too basic, but even if you have, I urge you to give it another try! I find in my advanced classes that when I teach this 'reminder' class the drawing skills invariably increase. So read over my thoughts and get ready to try it again.

Draw Upside-Down

All of us need to develop our drawing skills, and upside-down drawing is a good way to do that. As we do it we begin to trust that our eyes can see and compute angles, the relationships of spaces to one another, and record them fairly accurately. It may make us uncomfortable, to a degree, because our minds want to criticize us.

Our brains have a shorthand way of seeing, using symbols to represent things conveniently and quickly. We look for patterns in things—the sailing ship in the clouds—and tend to recognize these things in a very simple way. Your brain has devised a set of symbols, some more universal than others, to represent the world.

For instance, Betty Edwards in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain instructs us to remember our childhood landscape. She suggests that even at that early stage we chose certain symbols for certain objects in the landscape. How did you draw clouds when you were five? How about a tree? A house? Did it have a peaked roof and a chimney with smoke curling out? Whatever it was, chances are you retain some of those symbols when you draw.

Your brain has another kind of shorthand it uses: language. You have a word associated with a symbol and the verbal part of the brain will always want to use language to describe things. It’s so handy… but it really keeps you from seeing accurately. This part of the brain is also fairly critical and levies little barbs at you as you draw, suggesting that the house looks bad or that tree is a mess. Don’t listen. Drawing upside-down frees you from that.

If you leave an area of your drawing unfinished, it’s usually because you aren’t quite sure what should go in that space. Rather than struggle through the drawing, most folks, in a mad rush to get on to the fun stuff (usually the color ), just leave it blank, to be filled in when you get there. But those are the pitfall areas of the painting. When you reach that spot you usually end up using one of your symbols—a tree or a bush that looks more like a five year old painted it than someone as mature as you are now. Your little critical brain will be unhappy but only suggests more symbols.

These symbols are very persuasive. We tend to think we have them beat, only to find ourselves using them yet again. Your brain argues with you. Why are you messing around trying to see that building when you know it’s a rectangle? Why struggle to see the three-dimensionality of a tree when a lollipop shape is just fine? Well, argue back! Because it doesn’t look like a rectangle or a lollipop to me as I look at it upside down!

So, as you draw upside-down you’ll likely find that part of your brain arguing and feeling uncomfortable at first. Just draw through it. I guarantee that at some point that verbal part of your brain will quiet down because you’ll be so busy analyzing angles and relationships of shapes.

I suggest you select a photograph to draw from—and eventually paint—very carefully. What you see is what will result in the drawing. (You can edit it later when you turn it right side up.) Begin by prepping your paper and placing the already upside-down photo where you can view it. Then go away and forget what was there. Give yourself enough time that you aren’t straining to see what’s there. Come back and allow yourself to see it as a series of shapes and lines. Do not name the things as you draw them.

It’s important not to get too distracted throughout this process. Try to set up some uninterrupted time to draw so that the verbal part doesn’t get a foothold again. If you hear criticisms in your brain, ignore them. Just let go and analyze, compare, draw and enjoy.

If you haven't tried this before, you might want to use this for a practice drawing:

Okay, first off, DO NOT name the things in this image. Just print it, keeping it upside down as much as you can. Then do a simple line drawing with it upside down. I suggest you use a 9x12" piece of Wallis paper, toned a neutral gray. (I use a foam house painting brush to briskly rub in a layer of pastel, toning the paper--rub hard and wipe off all the excess and you can do a nice charcoal drawing and then paint in color right on top of it with no problems.) Do an underdrawing right on your paper as the first step in a painting. As you draw find the angles and intersections, thick and thin lines, where they come together and go off the page. When you've finished turn it right side up and see how it looks. Because you toned the Wallis paper you can easily rearrange a few of the lines, if needed, recomposing the image to suit you, but I suspect you'll be surprised at how accurate this looks! You may not want to use this one for a painting, but if you do, here it is:

Don't look at it right side up until you have done the drawing! Then you can use the photo to complete the painting. You can paint it either upside down or right side up, your choice...

If you're a bit more confident of your abilities, here's another image you might use:

Again, don't let your nosy brain talk about what is there--just draw the shapes, lines and values on your paper upside down.

Here's one more for you:


I'd love to see your drawings before you go on to paint it! Post it upside down and then right side up for us...

You can use any photograph you want to to do this exercise, by the way.

If you have questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them. I know you may be wondering how this adds up to composing, but trust me! We'll go on with the lesson next month.

Have fun!

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #2   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-08-2005, 11:30 AM
SweetBabyJ's Avatar
SweetBabyJ SweetBabyJ is offline
A WC! Legend
SE Arizona: I can see Mexico from my house!
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 18,516
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Good lesson, Deborah- I know this will help lots of folks! I draw upside down when I'm trying to do something tricky- even if I don't get things quite absolutely right when I turn it right side up, it's usually closer than when I tried to do it normally, and shows me the *how* of the *where* I was wrong- if that makes sense.

Reiterating the toning basics of Wallis is good too- Folks, this technique really works, and saves you masses of time and frustration if you're like me and sketch directly onto your ground rather than grid, trace, project. A simple brushing away with a soft watercolour brush and voila`! Anything you drew is gone while the toning remains.
  #3   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-08-2005, 09:11 PM
Dea Dea is offline
Enthusiast
Outside of Darwin Northern Territory
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,508
 
Hails from Australia
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Hi, this is the first time I have joined in on one of these. I haven't got any Wallis paper so I am using Colourfix instead.

I'm going to put some colour on it now
__________________
Deanna Field

"You can own the Earth and still, all you own is earth untill, you can paint with all the colours of the wind." Disney's Pocohontas.
  #4   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-08-2005, 09:28 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Thanks Julie...

Looking good, Deanna! So glad you're joining me here. Colourfix is fine--I'm not dogmatic, just suggesting Wallis. Try it when you get a chance! It's a very forgiving paper (which is a trait I like in anything or anyone!! )

One thing you need to do is straighten that horizon line. The photo is crooked (hey--it's upside down! Who knew? LOL sorry... ) so you need to just be sure you flatten it out with the colors.

How did you find the experience of drawing upside down? Have you done it before? Does it make it easier? Hope so! I know that when I do it I usually have a short period where I feel really uncomfortable, and my mind keeps telling me I can't do this. I get a real urge to turn everything right side up so I can see it better (which is just my brain wanting to use language and shortcuts), but when I ignore it the feeling goes away and I can get into the shapes and lines...

If this was my painting I'd consider recomposing the clump of grasses thats along that bottom edge, maybe by shoving it back into the picture further or by massing the whole fore into more grasses. I'm always careful not to put objects on the 'windowsill' of the picture.

Can't wait to see how this one goes...

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #5   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-09-2005, 06:27 PM
O'Aieghlans's Avatar
O'Aieghlans O'Aieghlans is offline
Senior Member
Palm Beach County, Florida
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 364
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Will playing the guitar upside down help me draw better?
__________________
Dan
  #6   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-09-2005, 09:39 PM
Dea Dea is offline
Enthusiast
Outside of Darwin Northern Territory
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,508
 
Hails from Australia
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Thanks, I noticed that about the horizon, only after I turned it up the right way though . I haven't drawn upside down before but it didn't worry me, I think because I usually don't look at the whole thing when I draw, only the bit I am drawing.
I have put some colour on my picture and I have to say I looked better before, possibly when it was upside down, ah well I will look at it again later.
__________________
Deanna Field

"You can own the Earth and still, all you own is earth untill, you can paint with all the colours of the wind." Disney's Pocohontas.
  #7   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-10-2005, 12:12 AM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by O'Aieghlans
Will playing the guitar upside down help me draw better?

No Dan--drawing the guitar player upside down will help you draw better... Playing the guitar upside down will just make you weird.

Deanna, show us your progress sometime!

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #8   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-10-2005, 06:32 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Okay, with something like 110 views I'm now officially challenging all you lurkers (and you know who you are!) to come out and give this simple, easy, fun and helpful idea a TRY....... Wattasmatta? C'mon!

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #9   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-11-2005, 05:02 AM
Natalie NZ's Avatar
Natalie NZ Natalie NZ is offline
Senior Member
Levin, New Zealand
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 370
 
Hails from New Zealand
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by dee_artist
Okay, with something like 110 views I'm now officially challenging all you lurkers (and you know who you are!) to come out and give this simple, easy, fun and helpful idea a TRY....... Wattasmatta? C'mon!

Deborah


OK OK coming out with my hands up ....... CU Soon........Won't be long.....11 pm here so will try and make it tomorrow................
__________________
Regards, Natalie



The surest way to have happiness and peace of mind is to give them to someone else.
  #10   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-11-2005, 09:02 AM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

....<clearing throat>.... Okay, didn't mean to get aggressive there... <giggle> You can put your hands down now, Natalie!

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #11   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-11-2005, 11:26 AM
K Taylor-Green's Avatar
K Taylor-Green K Taylor-Green is offline
A Local Legend
Sabina, Oh
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 6,365
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Hmmmmm, upside down drawing. You know, I haven't done that since I took a basic drawing class, about 10 years ago. It works, too! I check my drawings that way, turning it upside down.
Drawing upside down may seem like a silly thing to do. And many of you may be thinking, " I'm having enough trouble drawing it right side up!" But, it is one of those exercises that trains your eye for accuracy. On down the road, you will draw everything with more correctly, the first time!
__________________

Katherine Taylor-Green Pastel Artist
http://www.certaintylabradors.com/free_rein_studio.html
  #12   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-11-2005, 03:17 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

I learned this drawing technique way back in the early years of my art school training, at a time when I was most frustrated with my ability to portray what I saw. Betty Edwards, in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, showed before and after drawings done by her students, with such dramatic and quick improvements that I had to try some of her ideas. This one is the most basic idea, I know, but it truly taught me a lot about drawing and in the long run about composing. It works because you literally shut off that critical part of your brain that wants to use the shortcuts and constantly seems to send mixed messages: “that doesn’t look right,” alongside the persistent urge to use symbols instead of seeing.

Let me illustrate this idea better. When you paint a face your brain does two things. It has filed away a symbol for eye or nose or mouth, a childlike drawing that isn’t based on looking but on a pictogram, of sorts. When you begin to draw the face, as you look at the eye you might use that symbol, but your mind hates that too! It tells you how stupid that looks…



But when you try to see it and draw it accurately the brain substitutes the symbol again and repeats how dumb that looks. You can’t win!!! When you turn the photo upside down you effectively silence the symbol loving part of the brain that criticizes the symbol and open yourself up to actually seeing. Since there’s no object to symbolize you begin to look at and draw things in terms of what is there.

It goes a little further, however. The dictionary defines composition this way: ‘To put in proper form; to create or produce.’ When you compose a painting you decide what to include or leave out, where to locate elements on the page, and how they’ll relate to one another. How can you do that without drawing skills? Oh, you may have graduated to using other techniques, but I bet you started by drawing--if you don't still draw! I know I do.

I usually tone my paper and use charcoal to begin my composition. This helps me in three ways. First, I find where the largest shapes will reside on the page. Second, I locate the areas of value, the darks, and lights. Last, I find where I want the details--and more importantly where I DON'T need details! I suggest doing all of this before painting one lick of color.

Here's one of my underdrawings. It’s on a 12x18" piece of Wallis paper, which I toned gray using the technique I described earlier. I used extra soft thin vine charcoal and a peach colored pastel pencil.



Here’s the photo:



I find that when I need to draw really complex things like the overlapping and intricately detailed branches of a tree, I can more easily see it when it's upside down. I looked for the dark masses first, then the light areas, slowly building it up into a complex underdrawing. This is a very rough illustration of what I mean:



Start with the big puzzle pieces, using shapes, then decide on the value areas, then details.

When drawing upside down, you tend to make a much more accurate rendering, including all you see, so it's a good idea to crop down to only the things you want to include. For instance, you might use this crop for your painting:



Or this one:



Then in drawing it upside down, you will only concentrate on what you want to portray, instead of having to try to ignore what's there. When you finish the upside down portion of the drawing, turn it right side up and tweak it. Take out the things that are distracting, or add some punch to the overall values.

Here’s the WIP of this one. The rough-in stage:




The second layer:



And the final painting:


Winter Pinon

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #13   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-11-2005, 10:42 PM
Paula Ford's Avatar
Paula Ford Paula Ford is offline
A WC! Legend
Jasper, TN (in the mountains west of Chattanooga)
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 14,153
 
Hails from United States
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Hi Deborah,

This lesson you are giving us is wonderful. Thank you for all your time and knowledge that you are sharing!!

I AM going to draw something RIGHT NOW and will be back in a flash.

Paula

P.S. That photo is gorgeous!! Is it one that you took? Or, is it in the RIL? <hint hint>
__________________
Paula Ann Ford
My Blog
Manager of OnlineJuriedShows.com, IAPS Show Chair, Assoc. Member PSA, Member Pastel Society of Colorado, Member Adirondack Pastel Society
  #14   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-12-2005, 02:40 AM
Natalie NZ's Avatar
Natalie NZ Natalie NZ is offline
Senior Member
Levin, New Zealand
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 370
 
Hails from New Zealand
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

Well it's not much but at least it's a start. I haven't done anything for so long, thanks Dee for helping me get started.

__________________
Regards, Natalie



The surest way to have happiness and peace of mind is to give them to someone else.
  #15   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-12-2005, 03:05 AM
jackiesimmonds's Avatar
jackiesimmonds jackiesimmonds is offline
A Local Legend
Middlesex, England
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 8,274
 
Hails from United Kingdom
Re: Explore Soft Pastels-Feb. 2005- composition 1

I could not agree more with Dee's point that people have a tendency to draw what they think is there, generalising what they see, rather than drawing what is actually there, particularly if they are drawing something fairly familiar. They slow down, and become a lot more careful, when drawing something totally UNfamiliar and new to them.

An important point to bear in mind tho:

The idea of drawing upside down is terrific when you are working from photos.

But when you work from life, this is a tad harder, unless you are adept at standing and drawing upside down!!!!

So - for those who like to work from life, you may have wondered how you can usefully use this info. Well, don't switch off....because the second part of this lesson, is, to my mind, the valuable part for you ...learning to see the world as shapes within the rectangle, and learning to simplify what one sees down to essentials. Without using these ideas, there is a tendency to "see too much" of the world, and also to see it as a shopping list - 2 trees, patch of snow, pathway, area of sky. When the artist gets to the point of being able to see those elements as "shapes within the rectangle", he or she has a marvellous tool at his disposal, to help to compose, or design, his image.

I often use the upside-down idea to check my design...when I turn my image upside down, I start to see it as an arrangement of coloured shapes on the paper, it is harder to discern reality, as Dee so rightly says.

Even for those who prefer to work from life, this is a good exercise to practice anyway, from time to time; it will really train your patience, and your eye and hand to see and be more accurate in your drawings, and then, when you come to work from life, this training will help you to more accurately draw what you see with the naked eye, instead of generalising.

Jackie
__________________
http://www.jackiesimmonds.com

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:46 PM.


© 2014 F+W All rights reserved.