Capturing the Essence of the Subject in Black & White

Maple Street, Morristown, NJ, acrylic & white pastel on paper, 5x7 in.

Near Bleecker Street, NYC - acrylic & white pastel on paper, 5x7 in.

The drawings above are quick studies done in acrylic on watercolor paper with a bit of white pastel for accents and highlights. I do them to capture the essence of subjects I plan to paint in oil. When working in black and white, I can focus purely on form, value and gesture, getting to the root of what makes the subject unique. I reduce all of the elements in the composition down to their most basic shapes and forms, the trees, cars, buildings and shadows are all simply forms made up of sub-forms in a range of values. I completely forget what I am drawing and focus purely on those sub-forms and getting their shapes and values correct.

I teach this method of drawing in my Expressive Drawing workshops and courses. I am offering both a workshop and a 10-week class on the subject. To register for the workshop, which will be held on Jan. 11 at the Martinsville Studio, call 732-667-5328 or email Registration fee is $100 for the full-day workshop from 10am to 4pm.

If you are interested in the 10-week course, it will be held at the NJ Visual Arts Center beginning in mid-January. The class is held on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 3pm. To register, visit the art center’s web site at or call 908-273-9121. Registration fee is $225 for members or $255 for non members.


3 Responses to Capturing the Essence of the Subject in Black & White

  1. talikatzman says:

    Wow,love it!even before I read the post I saw that your purpose was to catch an essense,though I’m a big fan of Oil I like this acrylic drawing.Want to see some of my artwork on my site?

  2. kullaf says:

    Thank you! I love oil as well but find acrylic wonderful as a drawing medium or for quick studies. Would love to see some of your work, you can post a link if you would like. 🙂

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