• Rose-Marie Marshall-Jane

Go Back To Basics and Try Again

Have you ever drawn a ball? Sketched a cube or drawn a vase?

You have? That’s fantastic!

How often do you practice these basic skills?

I wouldn’t be surprised if you said not often, I’m guilty of not going over the basics regularly either.

As my mother says, many of us forget to revisit old skills and techniques because we think we’ve mastered them already and we don’t need to do them again.

I often look at my older art work and think “Blimey, that’s a load of rubbish.” Then I look at my newer stuff and think, “Uhh, it’s getting better.” Most of us are our own worst critics but sometimes you can develop this blind spot where you think you’re on a roll and everything’s dandy perfect until someone points out what isn’t right and it hits you like a ton of bricks.

This happened to me recently where I was asked for my opinion of a students drawing.

The particular drawing went a little something like this:

Bear in mind this isn’t the actual drawing, just a digital representation. The original had a couple more lines in it.

Anyway, I was noting everything that needed to change. I wasn’t asked for my opinion yet so I didn’t give it. It wasn’t until the very end, when she finally put down her white pencil did she ask my opinion. Right, I thought, sleeves rolled up I began:

“That’s a good effort; however the shadows are white when they should be dark blues and greys. If your source of light (the moon) is in the centre of your drawing why is it your shadows are all veering off to the right? The moonlight is hitting the ground so shouldn’t it be lighter than the shadows? Your moon should also have more of a glow to it.”

I was a little less blunt than that but you get the gist.

“Oh.” Oh indeed, I didn’t know whether this was the right thing to do (point out what needed to be changed) or whether I should have shut up and said something generic like “Oh, yes that’s lovely”, but she did ask for my opinion…

After explaining source of light etc and suggesting she practice a few balls before starting again, I let her get on with sharpening her white pencil, probably to stab me in the eye with it later.

Let’s have a look of what her drawing would look like with a bit of improvement:

Although it’s far from perfect and once again is a ten-minute digital representation can we see the difference ?

All this comes back to practicing those old skills and exercises, if this student had practiced her shading, light and dark, source of light and drawn a ball or two before she started her drawing she may have come away with a better representation than her original. It's always worth asking for the opinions of others whilst in the middle of a piece, you never know what they might spot that you haven't.

If that isn’t cause enough to get some balls out and give them a draw I don’t know what is.

Random tip! Wetting an oil pencil with your tongue won’t make it go on the paper any easier.