Archive for January 10th, 2014

14ElizMorlsPaperBag2Go to the grocery store.  Come home, unload the paper bag on the kitchen counter and put your stuff into the fridge and pantry. There’s the bag.  Crumple it up some more.  Find it irresistible. Contemplate. Sit down with your drawing board, paper and pencil (charcoal or whatever you like) and draw it.  Lose track of time.  Forget about food.

Yesterday was the beginning of a new semester.  In my drawing class I set up crumpled brown paper bags to be drawn.  Some still life.  Very still, indeed.  A brown paper bag doesn’t look like much. It’s too common, banal, too every-day.  But when you draw it, it can become monumental.

I did a demo using china marker on gloss paper.  I pointed out that:

14ElizMorlsPaperBagAnalysis1.The paper, being crisp , will appear to be faceted, like a cut gem stone. Since light primarily comes from above, the upper surfaces will catch the light. Where the cut goes down, that surface will be in shade. When a surface is broken—when it changes direction—the light also has to change. (Shown in green in the analysis.)

2. Sometimes the bag will buckle into a round bulge.  To create the illusion of roundness in your drawing, you have to create subtle transitions on either side of your core shadow and, most importantly, you have to show the reflected light. (Pink.)

3. The drawing should be done with a soft medium that offers the possibility of going truly black, so that that the drawing as a whole will be quite dense. Use charcoal, china marker or very soft graphite.

4. The overall shape of the composition will be a rectangle, wobbly and nicked, but still rectangular.  The dense, faceted rectangle will sit like a monument on the page.

5. The drawing does not have to be “finished.”  You do not have to work out all the facets of this crinkled surface.  You may discover that when just one section is worked out in chiaroscuro the remaining facets of the bag can be indicated with lively, “juicy” lines and nothing more.  (Orange)

One student, Elizabeth Morales, who is new to the class, produced this carefully worked out drawing, using a soft charcoal pencil and stomp on toned pastel paper, about 24 x 18.  The humble paper bag looks monumental, as if chiseled out of stone. Notice the shadow on the lower left corner where the bag curves up. (blue)

Her drawing follows all the tips I offered during my demo, except the last one about leaving some part unfinished.

We all liked it.  It’s an impressive accomplishment.  Elizabeth said, “Now I’m not sure. I think it may be overworked. Maybe I should have left it unfinished.”

Let’s look at that possibility in the next post.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.





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