Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Study of Value and Chiaroscuro

Master Copy of Seraut: This is a class assignment we did recently to study value and chiaroscuro through Seraut's illustration. The medium used was charcoal on white bristol paper 18 by 24. We've been using charcoal in classes for around 2-3 weeks and its still a relatively unfamiliar tool for us. In this particular assignment, the toughest part was getting those charcoal to stay on the paper. (which they obviously didn't because we use cheap paper -__-) It is really a pain to work in this medium because with our sweaty palm, the charcoal get stained pretty easily. Working on the drawing for 2 hours, the paper gave way. It came to a point where the surface won't hold whatever we try to draw and smudge.

What we've learn: We've been drawing for a long while now and have always been working on two things primarily: line work and proportions. Since the start of 2010, we were sketching everywhere from Starbucks coffee, train stations and Dr Sketchy sessions. Because of the nature of sketching "live", ( "live" because they are not just real people but humans on the move) we were forced to add a lot of information base on our understanding on human forms. Going beyond that to Value has always been our dream. Because we believe you can draw something out of proportion, but if you get the value accurate the illustration or sketch will still have energy and strength within. To attain that level of skill is the hardest in drawing. Value is also the foundation for color theory and if an artist can master this craft, he'll be able to give form and the illusion of depth to a drawing.

The problem with most artists is we draw blindly trying to render shadows and light with absolute precision in different parts of our drawings while giving up the overall look and composition. In our upcoming assignment, we have to draw landscape with value and chiaroscuro. This problem and bad habit amplified immediately in most of us; we couldn't render convincingly what we see. An example can be said of a white matte painted house that has a mild maroon rooftop. If you were to draw on the side of the building that is covered with shadow, can you accurately tell if the white surface of the house (which has turned grey due to shadow) is darker than the clear rooftop? Which would be darker? What about that tree beside the house? Is the green on the tree darker than the white or even the rooftop? Such is the flaw in most of us who refuse to think before we draw; trying to determine which part of the composition is darker in value and where is the lightest first. It is pointless to copy and render a piece of beautiful art if we're unable to understand, observe and pick out what is important to draw. That itself is the essence of drawing and the hardest to achieve in our opinion.

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