Class Notes – Visual Interpretation 1/11/11

still life study, charcoal on newsprint, 9x12 in. - getting the values right will create depth, dimension and surface texture/transparency

Form & Value

In order to create a susscessful representational painting, you need to have good drawing skills. The ability to create the illusion of space and dimension is reliant upon your ability to see forms and values and to represent them appropriately on the paper or canvas. Drawing matters!

In my demo today, I drew a quick little study of the still life set up in the studio. Using charcoal and greyscale pastels (NuPastels by Prismacolor), I relied purely on form and value to create the study of fabric, fruit and glass. Most artists prefer to work in color, but working monochromatically forces you to see the value range in objects you are drawing from life. This is the best way to learn how to create the illusion of 3 dimensional space on a 2-D surface (paper or canvas).

You must block in the big forms first, looking for geometric shapes and ignoring details in the beginning. All the detail in the world will not make an incorrectly drawn object look right. How much or how little detail you choose to add at the end is up to you, but you have to get the forms correct and understand the relationship of the values in order to create that sense of 3D.

This winter session at NJ Visual Arts Center, I plan to start with the basics in each of my classes and to build upon those concepts throughout the 10 weeks of the course. I find that too many students–both beginner and advanced–have not had exposure to the concepts that are the foundation of creating good, solid, confident drawings and paintings. You have to understand the underlying structure of what makes a good painting before you can go on to produce artwork without technical deficiencies. So this winter session, the focus will be on the basics of form, value, proportion, perspective, color and composition.

It’s great to be back in the classroom, I love my job! 🙂


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