The last topic in the Line Qualities chapter deals with hatching and cross hatching. This is where tonal variation can be used in line drawing by using parallel line (hatching) with parallel hatch lines to create different tonal variations. As usual, Smagula's explanations on the technique are pretty much non existent, so luckily I remembered some practise I did form Bert Dodson's "Keys to Drawing" book a few years ago, where he explained Giorgio Morandi's (a famous cross hatcher) technique in clear detail, showing demonstrations of the four values that Mornadi used in his artworks - a light, middle light, middle dark and dark. He didn't use solid blacks. You can see examples of the four values of cross hatch in my above drawing of a paper bag.
So the exercise this week was to draw a crumpled paper bag with black pen. Basically you had to analyse the light and dark areas of the creases and define them using cross hatch style. It was important not to cover the entire surface with hatching, as the blank areas represent highlights. I find this style of cross hatching line drawing to be relaxing and a fun way to explore tone.
Above are some more practise cross hatching technique exercises I did a few years ago. The tea pot on the right is a still life is based on the methodical style of Giorgio Morandi (1890 - 1964). You can see more examples in this of the four tones used in cross hatching.
This weeks topic is about changing the way you use your drawing implement to create rhythmic variation and interesting visual effects. The brief was to create a simple still life and draw this with ink (watercolour was used in the above examples) using a long handled brush extension and drawing standing up with the paper on the floor in front of you.
I taped a ruler to the handle of a watercolour tapered brush to do this exercise. The idea is to limit the number of lines used, but make those lines distinctive and meaningful. The width and character of the lines can be varied by how much ink is on the brush and by the pressure of the drawing implement.
The results are pleasing and this exercise was easier than I thought it would be. I like the way this technique forces you to use minimal line, as you can't go back and fix things up or go over anything, but the lines that are used are strong, varied and expressive. A new experience for me, but something I wouldn't mind exploring further...
So this week is a bit of a diversion from Smagula and his Creative Drawing course. I borrowed a book from the library art section that happened to catch my eye called "Zentangle Untangled" by Kass Hall and decided to have a go at some of the Zentangle exercises. Well, everyone knows how to doodle, but it seems someone has renamed and rebranded this idea into a type of philosophical movement called Zentangle, which is quite interesting ! So it's now used as a meditation technique, the idea being that using repetitive line work to create patterns helps you get into a meditative, fully relaxed state of mind. You can do courses in this, become a certified Zentangle teacher and buy your own Zentangle kit ! Well someone had a good business idea - wish I'd thought of it !www.zentangle.com
Well... I wont get too carried away, but I really enjoyed having a go at these doodle patterns. The instructions in the book were very easy to follow and much easier to do then they look.
Was the experience meditative? Yeah I suppose so.. It was certainly relaxing and I spent the best part of a day last week doing the black and white versions, then another few hours another day colouring them in with watercolour paints.
This is a practice in the rapid, fluid style of drawing, which can be used to draw scenes directly from life. Masses of intertwined lines can be used to create tonal areas and thin lines used to suggest surroundings. The picture in the middle is Daumier's Family Scene (1867) in pen, ink and brush on paper. Apparently he was a political cartoonist whose drawings were done quickly from real life.
So the brief in this project was to draw a scene form real life. I tried a few times to sit and draw my family going about their business, but found the constant movement almost impossible to draw, even to capture the outline in a gestural way was proving too difficult as they moved around. As usual, Smagula does not give any clear instructions as to HOW to go about achieving this particular task, so I eventually gave up and drew a picture of my son reading to himself in bed - not moving much, so much easier to draw. I drew the picture fairly quickly, recording my general impression of the scene. It doesn't really look much like my son, but I think it's a reasonable rendition of the scene.
There are lots of artists who regularly sit in parks and cafes and draw busy scenes using fluid line. It's something to do that would improve your illustration skills over time. I will keep it in mind for when I have more free time for that...
Now this is more like it.. This is an area of illustration that sits more comfortably with me. No messy charcoal... no jagged arm movements...just clean, clear lyric lines that invite thoughtful, contemplative study. Lyric lines are all about graceful, curving lines. The lithograph on the right is The Tree by one of my favourite artists Odilon Redon (1892). The delicacy and lightness of the form is emphasised with a slightly decorative quality to it. I love these post Impressionist styles that have clean lines and slightly decorative qualities.
So I have chosen some shells to draw in a lyric manner with simple, flowing lines to emphasise the beautiful form and natural decorative qualities of the subject. The mood or feeling I was trying to evoke through my drawing was, like Redon, one of quiet contemplation about the beauty of nature...
Sacha Grossel is a practising Visual Artist from Australia.