I took a sketching class this past semester through the UT Non-Credit program. It was a great experience...and provided just the inspiration and motivation that I needed to get some work done. The class focused on basic sketching techniques and we were free to choose our own subject matter. I didn't have time to gather up photographs, so I bought an interior design magazine on my way to the first class and chose a different photo from it each week.
We started with graphite pencils (which I loved to use back in high school and college, but had not used since then). It felt awkward to me to be able to actually blend the graphite...it felt like cheating. I have gotten so used to using an ink pen to sketch, and with that you have build up shadows and dark areas with a series of lines or dots or cross-hatching. Blending seemed too easy! But it was as fun as I had remembered, and I loved attempting to get a range of intensity just from using the different hardnesses of the lead. And since I'm a leftie, I had graphite all the way up to my elbow by the time class was over! Here is one of my graphite sketches:
We used a wet graphite wash during one class. It was pretty cool, but I don't like having to wait for it to dry before I can continue sketching. I prefer just plain graphite or ink. Here is my graphite wash:
About halfway through the course, the teacher demonstrated how to use ink, so at that point, I switched to ink for the remainder of the course... it just makes more sense for the subject matter that I'm interested in, and I love the challenge of using cross-hatch, stipple, etc. to achieve dark areas. Here are a few of my ink sketches:
On the last night of class, the teacher brought in her watercolors and let us play around with them. I love the look of ink with watercolor! I have been experimenting with this combination all year, and hope to take a watercolor course next semester to improve on my techniques even more. Here is one of my ink sketches (done on watercolor paper) with watercolor added:
One of the most beneficial things that I learned in the class was the importance of composition, and techniques for guiding your viewers eye around the page. Each line that you draw should contribute to this. The direction of your lines determine the direction that they eye will follow. This is huge. Also, I learned that one should always draw the outline first, and then fill in the contour lines or the details (such as shadows, patterning, wrinkles, etc.) after that, its just a matter of filling in the blanks with lines of varying intensity (lines close together for dark areas and far apart for light areas). That's really all there is too it... well, that and a LOT of practice!!
© Haley McManigal 2014
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