Cones, cylinders and cubes
The Big Draw, Coxley Live, Saturday, 7th October, 2006
Although we can't use the Indian ink and glue today, I'm glad I'd brought them as the bottles serve as subjects for an impromptu still life session with children and adults.
All the basic problems - no that sounds too negative; all the basic challenges - of drawing are there in a simple set-up. I give them a few tips.
For example; the angle between the glue bottle in the background and the box; I often find myself picturing a clock face. If you take the vertical line of the bottle as the minute hand, pointing to 12, then you can estimate the angle by imagining where the little hand would be. From my point of view this angle was roughly equivalent to 10 o'clock on the clock face.
You'll notice that in the student drawing (above, right) some of the verticals on the right of the drawing have titled over sideways, as if the diagonal of the box has influenced them.
In a book on Drawing Animals Victor Ambrus advises that you should never start by drawing the eye, then the nose and continuing as if you were doing a jigsaw, piece by piece. You should go for the basic outline and add detail when you get the opportunity. I think that's true for animals but when I'm drawing a still life I always find myself observing shapes and negative shapes, very much as you'd construct a jigsaw.
For instance, look at the shape between the two bottles in the foreground. It's just as important as the shape of the bottles themselves if the group is going to sit together as it should.
Cone and Shoulders
A girl sitting next to me has just drawn the top of the glue bottle; a cone and with a shoulder on either side.
Drawing them separately like that, it's easy to get them very slightly out of alignment and lose the sense that the two 'shoulders' are part of one form; a cylinder.
I don't say that you should take a construction line right across behind the cone, as if you had x-ray eyes and could see the whole cylinder, but you need to have a sense of that shape.
Still Life Cityscape
When I'm drawing natural objects, like tree stumps and rocks, I often have a sense that I'm drawing a landscape and that my pen is doing the walking. With this still life I try to draw with as much care as I would if I was drawing a cityscape; as if this was an architect's sketch of a spire or the top of a skyscraper.