- Lesson Details
In this lesson, world-renowned artist Steve Huston provides an introduction to the discipline and lifelong passion of art. Whether you are a professional, or an absolute beginner, Steve’s clear and focused approach will help you explore important questions about your journey as an artist. You will also learn many important aspects of the craft of art so often ignored by books and classes, including an overview of materials and techniques.
- Robert Bateman Sketchbook (14×17 in.) – Acid-Free Paper
- Canson Scrapbook in Oatmeal
- Strathmore Toned Paper Sketchbook
- Drawing Board/Plywood with Clips
- Strathmore Rought Newsprint Pad
- Strathmore 500 Series Premium Charcoal Paper
- Strathmore 400 Series Toned Paper Sheets in Tan
- Canson Ingres Paper
- Sharpie Permanent Marker
- Ballpoint Pens
- Koh-I-Noor Universal Drawing Lead Holder
- General’s Compressed Charcoal
- Conté Crayons in Sanguine and White
- Sandpaper Block
- Single Edge Razor Blades or X-Acto Knife
- Staedtler Graphite Pencils
- Factis Artists’ Eraser
- Kneaded Eraser
- Alphacolor Char-Kole Squares
- Blending Stump
Discuss this video in the forums!Discuss
In this video lesson,
world renowned artist Steve Huston provides an introduction to the discipline
and lifelong passion of art. Whether you are a professional or
an absolute beginner, Steve's clear and focused approach will help you
explore important questions about your journey as an artist. You will also learn
many important aspects of the craft of art, so often ignored by books
and classes, including an overview of materials and techniques.
Hi welcome to today's
lecture on the nuts and bolts of how to do art. The practical
beginning steps to become an artist, what artists think about,
in terms of getting better, developing their craft, what that means, and
the materials that you might want use. There's a ton of materials
out there in arts and crafts stores all over the place, so
we can't begin to touch on the possibilities.
But what we can do is give you some of the basics. I'm basically gonna tell you what I use or
some of the things that general art students will use in art schools
for drawing today. And I'll explain those
as I go and at the end of this talk you'll see a list of those materials
and you'll see some close up pictures of some of the sketchbooks and items
that I showed off to you so you can identify them. Anyway, let's get started. First
off, what we're trying to do as an artist is
ask the question about nature, what do I see? And then tries to also ask
what do I want to say about it? What do I see in the world? What do I want to say about it?
What do I really see what I look at it? And I tell you, you're not gonna see things
really unless you try and draw or paint them. When you actually
try and do the craft of examining,
translating, and putting down that real world
object or the imaginary thought onto a page or onto a canvas
then you've seen it. You sit for 40 hours staring at an apple and trying
to render the heck out of it or get the basic shapes of it
that's when you've really seen it. So artists, more than almost anybody else,
in our society, really learn to see things. And that's really where our
craft comes from, the techniques we learn, the craft
tools that we use, the how to classes we get
for the most part teach us how to see what we're looking at. How to
decipher it. We can't take in everything so it teaches us to
discriminate or to edit out. So we'll talk a little bit more about that.
That's the first question. The second question is what do I want to say about it. And that's where our personal
style comes in. So now Rembrandt will have
something different to say about a portrait commission than
say an El Greco, or a Sargent or
a million other artists. Every major artist that you
look at will have a different view of the world. And that's why you can go to any great museum
in the world and you'll see masterpieces, and they are masterpieces often times,
and they're of wildly different styles. They're cruder, they're more refined,
they're simplified, they're more complex, they're of different emotions, different
compositions, they're all over the place.
Color changes from realistic to expressionistic, it becomes
realistic, it becomes abstract, it's two dimensional, it's three dimensional,
all of those are choices that the artist makes
because it's what they want to say about the world.
So learning your craft as an artist is really kind of a two step process.
You'll spend time developing the skills to put
down what you see on the page.
And then, the second half of your career I guess we could say,
will be trying to make what you put down
to be exactly what you want to say. And what you want to say
is going to be a little different from everybody else. Now one of the things that artists
depends on when they work is that they're not so different than the next person. So if I
do something that I find is beautiful, engaging, challenging in my work
I can assume, and it's a safe bet, that I can -
that we can assume that they'll be a group of people out there,
an audience out there, that will feel as I feel about it. So as an artist
I'm depending on the fact that I'm not so different than everybody else. And what appeals
to me will appeal not to everybody, that just doesn't happen, the world's too big a
big a place, there's too many choices to make, but you'll find a niche audience.
And it might be a big or a small, but it'll be a loyal niche audience
that loves it like you love it. That
feels about it the way you feel about it. So we depend as an
artist on the fact that we're not so different from the next person.
At the same time, the artist knows that they're different enough
that they have something unique to say about that subject.
They can bring something new to the table, they can bring a new insight. Maybe
even a new revelation about that something. About the way the world
works, or about the color of an apple, or the mood of a
sunset or whatever the heck it is. But the artist is an
individual person, he or she then, through their
experience, their uniqueness, is going to bring something valuable. And in fact
teach us, as the audience, something important about the world.
And so all artist are really teachers. And so it's those two
dynamics. Not so different and yet unique.
And it's that balancing act between. And that's what
draws people to our work
and builds our following. So that's kinda the
some of the basic thinking behind
doing art. Let's stop there for a moment and let's look at some of the
materials. Now when we're beginning to work as an artist,
beginning to learn our craft, what we really want is a set of materials that
gets out of the way. We have enough trouble learning to draw the
figure or draw still life or get control of
values and tones with smudging chalk or
with oil paint or whatever it is. We're gonna have enough trouble
trying to get control of what we see. And the artist has a
couple - we have really many choices to
approach this. But one of the great ways to work is painting
or drawing from life. When we work from life, we learn
tremendous amounts. There's nothing like life that for variety
and expression. And so we'll draw from a real model
up on a model stand, usually in a class situation. We'll come
in and several people will pitch in on the cost of the model. We'll take a class and the teacher's
hired the model. And we have this model willing to stand still for us as we try
and understand what we're seeing in there. How to translate
and get control of that information. Tough, tough problem to get
that three dimensional reality and bring it into
the two dimensional page or canvas is tremendously difficult.
And that translation process of taking the real
and bringing it down to a few marks and smudges on the page
really an abstraction of that reality, a reduction of that reality,
a translation of that reality, there's a real magic that goes on
there that just can't be duplicated in any other way. To be
before life and to create an expression of life through your
artwork, that's in some ways the most
powerful way to express your own vision and to teach the world
about - teach your audience something about the world.
We take that sunset or we take that figure
and we reduce it down to a few marks and lines, and by doing that
we've changed it completely. It still looks like a young
woman on a model stand, let's say. Or a sunset at the beach. But it's
something very different. It's just smudges of line and tone
suggest that. And that translation process is
powerful and can be really magical. The other way to work
is to work from two dimensional reference. You can take a photograph
you can buy reference books, or you can go on the internet and look up images
of puppy dogs or hurricanes or
faces or whatever you want and work from that. And now
in some ways that can be easier because that's a two
dimensional photograph that you're translating to a two dimensional
drawing. And so you don't have that three dimensional reality
reducing down to two dimensional reality. That's less difficult.
Also when you work from photograph they're not gonna take a break so
you just get going, start to get your ideas down and the model needs to
take a break. They can only be up there 20-25 minutes and then they start to get sore
from holding still and they have to take a break and they take five or ten minutes and maybe the teacher
talks for a while, or you go get a cup of coffee, and then you have to come back
to it a few minutes later and try and get back into the swing of things. That can be difficult
too. And that model will never get back in exactly the same pose.
It'll be awful close, if they're a good model, but it won't be exactly and so you have to deal
with those shifting positions and such. So it can be quiet challenging.
The photograph is there to stay and it will be there for the next 300 hours if you
want to spend that much time developing it - developing your work off of it.
And so that's terrific. The other is when we have the model -
we have that handsome man or that character actor up there
or that pretty young woman, we feel obligated
to that person to do it right, to make it real
and to make them heroic, handsome, the character, the personality
they really are. And we're afraid that if they come around to look at our work, and often times
models will do that on break then we'll be embarrassed because ours didn't
look enough like them, or we didn't make them attractive enough.
And so we feel obligated to the model to give it
right. Whatever that means. Whereas if we just got a photograph, there's no
personality to offend. So if we screw up or if we decide to redesign
it and push it into a more aggressive character,
or a less idealized character, there's no
qualms about that. We can let the artwork dictate what it means. Whereas
from life often times we feel obligated so it actually
inhibits our creativity.
way to work is as you get going in your craft and develop some skills,
go ahead and do your sketches from the model and then send the model home
and then do more finish work or more sketches from
the sketches. And that will allow you two things. One,
the model's not there to pressure you and so you can let the artwork start to breath.
Now what is this painting, what does this drawing really need?
And not what does the personality of the model expect?
It frees us up in a way. Also what we start
to learn is if I do a careful drawing of that figure
up there and I've done a really strong tonal or linear
examination of the thigh and the hip and I think I've really
kinda nailed that area, when I have to draw from it again and take
it a little bit further, try and render it more, try and push the tones
or actually put value on top of the line drawing, we all of the sudden
see what we didn't see. When I start to translate my
drawing into something more finished or
more sophisticated or just working from it in whatever
direction we want, what will happen is I'll say, now shoot how
exactly did that hip bone meet that thigh?
Did that overlap there, was that a darker value or a
lighter value, now was that knee cap really facing in that direction? It feels like it should
turn a little bit this way. And we start to realize
we didn't see everything that first time around. We thought we have a pretty good analysis
of that whole figure or the area of the figure
and, in effect, we were just kinda copying
what we see and just kinda working our way down
the form, copying that moment by moment and we missed an overall
relationship. Or we missed a key detail, we kinda slipped past
a connection where the knee inserts into the quadriceps
or overlaps or underlaps this other thing and it throws us. So
when we draw from our drawings, when we go back
to our studio and sketch from our life studies, we learn
a tremendous amount because we start to see what we didn't observe.
The other thing we can do is we can work out of our head, once we've
gotten home. Maybe we've spent the last week or two or semester or two
really studying the human architecture or the human anatomy or
laws of light, how the tones shift on the body
and we start to really feel like we're getting it. You can start sketching out
of your head and very quickly you'll start to realize, now I'm not sure
if the leg can actually be in that position compared to the hip.
And when it is in that position, I'm not exactly sure how it connects
back into the hip. Does it fold? Does it cut off that corner or does it
bulge out? Does it meld back in or
separate away? Exactly how that works. And so we, again, we
start to learn to - we start to know what we don't
know all of a sudden. Shoot not I'm not sure how the forehead
moves into the architecture of the cheekbones.
I'm not sure exactly how that eye sits in relationship to the nose.
And I'm not sure where that ear is in terms of its position
on the side of the head. And we can start to create a list
of fixes. Things we've gotta do. Kind of a honey-do list. Okay I need
to work on my ears, I'm not very good at ears. I'm not quite sure how that thumb
opposes those figures. So when the hands articulate, it really
throws me. Or I'm getting really good at light and shadows
so my tones are really good, so maybe I need to start working on foreground, background
relationships. We start to understand what we need to work on. And
what we want to do as an artist, is we gotta start somewhere so
in the beginning we don't put a lot of pressure. We just wanna have fun, you wanna enjoy the process
so you come back and build. And just by doing you will
get better. But as you get into a rhythm it becomes part of your
identity. I'm an artist, I'm an art student. I go to classes every
Wednesday and Thursday night, or whatever it is. You start to get in that routine
and it becomes part of who you are. And once you're kind of in that rhythm
of doing art, then you can start to be critical of your education.
And you can start to list the things that you do very well and then
list the things that you're not so good at. And as you practice those things that you're
very good at and keep them at a high quality and even
improving, you want to pick one or two at a time of your weaknesses. I'm
lousing at hands so I always have to put them behind the back or
the model changes poses so quickly that I never have time to get to the hands.
And so we want to start working on those weak spots. I'm always
trying to figure out, what am I worst at? Okay that's the place I'm gonna put a little extra time
in. It's not the place I'm gonna ignore. I'm gonna go ahead and
swallow my pride and sit down in class and do some really
bad feet drawing because I need to get better at it.
Eventually those feet will be just as good and maybe better than the other things. And then I'll pick
something else. And I want to start bringing each skill set that I want to develop
up and up and up and bring them all together in quality. I'm
good at line, not so good in tone. I'm good at drawing females, not so good at drawing males.
And you work on those weak points and bring them up. You're not afraid
to ask questions. You're not afraid to - and that can be from students in the
class or from the teacher. Ask away. Be a sponge. Get it
all. All those other students are gonna feel just as horrible
about their drawings as you do about yours. So you don't have to worry that they're gonna look over and
say oh that person, he or she's the worst in the class, look at how terrible they are.
They're feeling like they're the worst in the class. And so you don't have to worry about
that. In fact you could befriend them. Some of the best information I've ever gotten was not from
the teachers, it was from the students. Because they're all working on the same problem
you're working on. And often times the teacher forgets what it's like at that
stage that you're at. They're at a different stage. And they don't give you the key
information that you need. But there might be one or two students in class that
figured it out. And you can just look at their work or you can ask them about it. Say, how
did you get that thumb to fit so well in the hand? How did you get that
value to look so beautiful in the shadows? Ask them questions. What
materials did you use? And you can pick things up and some wonderful things
that way. As artist, we're loners basically, we're
all gonna be self taught. I can't do it for you, nobody can.
We can do demonstrations, we can sit with you when there's a one-on-one relationship
and correct but we can't do it for you. You've got to teach
yourself and you'll get clues from this place and that place by
looking at other art, by taking courses like this. By
sitting in on workshops, all those kind of things that are each gonna be
an important part of your education. But finally it's up to you to do it.
So you need to be a sponge and you need to get a support
system. You need to have a place you can go to learn a skill
and I would argue this would be one place. If I don't say it in a way that really
rings true you can go to one of the other terrific faculty members
and get their course and maybe they'll talk about a similar thing. And some of these things will
talk about exactly the same thing but they'll do it in quite a different way.
And by seeing it from different angles, this is how you see tone,
no this is how you see tone, no this is how you see tone. All of sudden you go
ahhh, now I get it. That third way is the way I want to do it.
So be patient with it. Make sure it's fun for you.
And one of the best suggestions I ever had
was from a good friend of mine, his father he said, you leave the studio when you're
still having fun. Leave that drawing board when you wish you could draw
another hour or so. You want to put in the time that you need to
to get better, but you don't want to burn out. You don't want it to be like a gym
membership where you get all excited to get in shape this summer, bikini
season, swimsuit season's coming up and you get that membership and you go for
two or three weeks and you go for two or three hours a day and you just
end up sore and then the cat dies and then the job got busy
and you got the cold and then all the sudden two months later you haven't
gone for a month and a half and you feel guilty. What you wanna do is
create a system, really kind of trick your mind
in a way that is gonna help you get better, it's gonna help you make you -
it's gonna make you feel good about yourself. And it's gonna
get you doing the work. Because you've got to do it. So how do we do it?
Should we go six hours a day, should we go twelve hours a day like Zoran did?
Zoran went to - he was a contemporary John Singer Sargent,
he went to eight hours of schooling and that wasn't enough, he went home and
painted for another four hours before he went to bed. I wish I were like that.
And you probably wish you were like that. Most of us aren't like that. In fact, most
creative types are really a little lazy. Our mind
kinda flits around, we think oh that's nice. And it's like chasing butterflies.
You go oh that would be fun and you do that for a little while. And you go oh but this would be so much
funner. Do this for a while. There's - I forget the statistic
but the number of screenplays in this country or novels
in this country where people wanted to write the great American novel or the next
hit movie, the unfinished writing work
it fills drawers and drawers. It's hundreds of thousands every year.
Or something like that. We start these projects, we never finish it.
So what I'm suggesting to you is you want to create a way that makes you
want to do this. That you need to do it, that your identity's
wrapped up in it. And you want to do a reward system so that you feel
good about yourself. So what I would suggest is do a sketchbook
do a class, one of these classes, do my classes
you can do any of these classes or someone elses's classes. Do a class
three times a week. An hour three times a week.
And then have a sketchbook where every other day you draw in it for five minutes.
Do that for about a month and if you
found that you've done it every other day for five minutes and you've been
religious about taking those three classes a week from New Masters Academy,
then go ahead and up it. Take four or five classes. Or
go to ten minutes every other day, or five minutes every single day.
If you screw up and you forget for three
days to take one of the class lectures, or
to do draw in your sketchbook, don't feel like you have to make up the time. Shoot, I missed three
days at five minutes a day, I owe my sketchbook
15 minutes. Don't do that. All the sudden there'll be an
avalanche of work a month later that you're behind and you'll get discouraged and quit. Just
say shoot I missed - I fell off the wagon. I missed three days of sketchbooking,
I missed two days of taking lectures. Next day
that I'm supposed to do it I'll just try and do better. And that day I'll try and do it.
And just begin again. And once you get in a rhythm where it's just part of your
routine. Just like brushing your teeth, you sketch a little bit.
Once you build up
for a month or two that rhythm, then you can start expanding and then you can start
working towards that 12 hours a day, if that's your goal.
But do it in little increments. Alright so that's my pep talk. Let's get to the nature
materials. Now in terms of - I'm gonna move in and out of the
frame here a minute - in terms of sketchbooks.
Let's do that. Because you guys are working at home and you may not -
you may not be able to get to a class situation.
You might be in a rural area, it might be too expensive.
Might be all sorts of reasons. So
sketchbooks are great and they come in all different sizes. This is
14 by 17 inches. It's 50 sheets. It's acid free white
paper and it's whatever company it is. We don't care about the company.
There's a bunch of them. When it says acid free
that means they've taken the wood pulp paper and they've sucked
most of the acid out so that it's not gonna turn yellow
and become brittle and fall apart in 20 or 30 years.
For the most part in a sketchbook we probably don't care about that. But you may. You may
be doing some lovely sketches. In fact, some of my favorite work that I've done
has been in my sketches. And so if it's important
to you that it's of high quality, get the acid free.
If it needs to be archival, it's to sell in a gallery or for a client
or it's a special gift for a loved one that you want to last
then you can get archival paper. And that is cotton based, like a cotton
shirt. And it's - that never deteriorates
basically. it's gonna last hundreds of years for you. Probably the
best company for that is Strathmore but there's
a lot of them. There's Lana, Arches is known for their watercolor,
there's a bunch out there. But you want archival or you want
cotton fiber. Cotton based. And then that's gonna give you something
that will basically last forever, or as close to ever as art
materials can last. A hundred or a few hundred years.
So any of these will be a good
choice. Now the danger of getting acid free and getting
the archival paper is it's more expensive. And that archival paper can be
two or three bucks a sheet, and sometimes more depending on the paper.
That's a lot of money to blow on a sketch or even on a careful
rendering that you m may screw up. So if you're not real confident in your
process, using that expensive paper actually kinda freezes you up
and you get nervous and usually when you get nervous you do worse. So I
would actually recommend cheaper paper. You don't even need the acid free at
first for the first few semesters, months,
years, whatever. Until you really feel comfortable. In fact you can just use
just go to staples or
wherever - Costco or something - and get a bulk
package of xerox paper. You know, of
copy paper. Just draw on that. Or get cheap yellow legal pads and
sketch on those. And often times I'll use those still. And just kinda
sketch away on them. So you can sketch on anything. It can be on napkins at the restaurant.
Doesn't matter. So this is white - I don't think I opened
that for you - it's just nice and white and any mark that
you put on that then is gonna show up
nicely. Another way to go
and actually here's a different kind of
drawing pad. This is Strathmore, this is that
really nice quality, but they have the cheaper paper too. This is also acid free.
But you can get even cheaper.
Another way to go is - I actually like these
And this is called, it's a cardstock. Which means it's about as thick
as a greeting card or a postcard. You can see it's
kinda thick. I hope you can see. It's not flimsy like
the other sketchbook paper. That's really thin like
copy paper or just slightly thicker than that. This is stiffer.
And I like it because I like to actually -
whoops - I like to draw on it in pen and ink.
And I like the dark because it's closer to my painting.
When I paint I'll tone the canvas. In my painting classes I'll talk
to you about several ways to start a painting. One is to tone a canvas
because as soon as you tone the canvas, then you can
put down your dark marks, basically for your shadow, and you can put down -
I can use a light paint or a light
chalk and get highlights. And you can very quickly get a full
tonal relationship that will show
a good value range.
These are some sketches -
work I did for a painting. And I'll do little paintings too. The thicker paper for me I like because
I can do little renderings in them, little paintings, as well as
these little sketches. And again, it's very close to my
the process I use for my oil paintings - my finished paintings.
So that works nicely. So you can get tones sketchbooks.
one. You know I'll do little studies for a composition,
These are studies. This little guy is right there. This guy is
over there. This is a guy that I ended up never using the composition
and so you kinda work out your ideas here.
Here's paintings, little studies. These are
wash in watercolor that we'll save that kinda
talk for my painting workshops. These are in fountain pens, but you could also
use - I use a Waterman fountain pen
I use to sketch. And often times what I'll do if it's a
tough pose or I want to make sure it's gonna turn out
nicer, I use a pencil, just a regular graphite pencil and I use
an H or an HB, which is pretty hard, so it won't make a really heavy
mark and then that'll be - I'll sketch in the shapes lightly
and then I'll draw over it with a pen. Other times I'll just freehand it with a pen.
And you can use any kind of ink that works with a fountain pen.
And here's a brown ink. I like the brown ink because it's -
that black is a little heavy. It just
kinda - I think it's kinda nice to have kinda brown on brown.
Let's see here.
So here's some more. So having the stiffer
cardstock I can do these little watercolor studies
or these little tonal studies. And
work out my ideas, and it's just fun for me. And some of my
favorite things are in the sketchbook. This is on -
actually on my honeymoon, doing little studies when it was raining outside. This is from the
museums we went to. So that kind of thing.
So you can use tone sketchbooks -
tone paper to work with too. Now in terms of -
oh and then since we're on paper.
When you're in a model class -
when you're working a class from life they have a model
who comes in or they set up a still life for you to draw. Often times you'll sit, you'll stand at an
easel or you'll sit down on benches and prop your board up and you can
buy boards where the clips are already attached to the board. This is just
a cheap piece of plywood
And these are clips that you can buy at any art store.
And they just hold your paper on. When you do this, you
don't want to get just one piece of paper and put onto your board. You wanna have a
bunch. You wanna have eight or ten or fifteen.
Having several pieces underneath will protect you
from the imperfections of the wood, or even if there is no imperfections,
if it's a nice, new piece of plywood you got from the
lumber yard, having
several pieces gives a little bit of padding and you'll find your tone
and your line and your rendering will go over much smoother.
If you just have one piece on there it's gonna feel hard and
brittle and it won't take the gradations of rendering
and the subtleties of how light or dark you make the
those lines. It will fight you a little bit. And one of the things we want -
we basically want to pick materials to begin with that stay out of the
way. As I said before, we have enough to worry about, we don't want
materials that confound us. You know, it's all gonna be mysterious
in the beginning. We want materials that are as user
friendly as possible. What we're really doing when we
begin doing art is we're learning a new language. If I make
this mark or this series of marks, what does that say
to my audience? Just like if I say this sound or this series of sounds
what does that say to my listener? And so we start to learn
that these mark making choices actually
have very specific dialogue
that accompanies them. And we start to convey ideas and quite
clearly. So in this case we want several sheets. These are
tone paper again, and so I can use
pen and pencils. And I can use light
paint or chalk and create a full
range of light or half tones and highlights of lightest things
in the set up. And the darkest things, often times the shadows of the set up.
The other way to go -
and the cheaper way to go because that paper I just showed you
can be a couple bucks a sheet. That toned paper. And that can
be a Strathmore paper again - there's that same Strathmore.
The Ingres, Ingres, he's actually a famous
artist. It looks like Ingres. Ingres paper.
Canson paper. Canson paper
is a little stiffer and a little more textured
and so you fight it a little bit more I think. So I tend to stay away from the
Canson paper with my students because I think it's harder to
render on and to do any kind of nuances on. The Ingres paper works
beautifully. The Strathmore paper and they're basically - and there's others
out there that are basic tone paper. And they come in several different tones.
They come in a lot of browns, they come in a lot of
cool grays and blues and greens. And then they come in
brighter colors. We don't want to use the brighter colors because
the really bright orange or yellow, that intense color
is gonna destroy our sense of light and shadows when we start working in tone.
The shadow, if it's on a bright color, won't feel like shadow.
Shadow is the loss of information in a way.
And so it's the loss of color too in a way. So if we do a really bright color in a
sketch like this, it starts to look neon, it starts to glow
rather than suppress to our eye and it kinda
throws us in terms of that light and shadow pattern that we're after.
So typically we want a fairly gray.
I'm doing a cool gray with a slightly purplish brown
on here and then that creates a nice, warm cool. It's pretty but
these colors don't get in the way of the form. It's still
more or less values. The colors don't have much to say about it.
Here's a -
here's a grayer - a cool gray. And you
can see the sketches here.
And in that case I'm actually using sharpies.
Or you can use any kind of marker. And what I do is I open them up and I actually use
them in my lectures, when I'm talking in classes - I'll use them in some of these lectures here.
And after I've used them for a while they start to gray out. You can see how
here it's a little darker, here it's a little grayer.
But even those are somewhat grayed out compared to say,
this one. And the advantage of using a marker
or any kind of pen is you can't erase it. It's stuck there.
So if you screw up, you have to start over. But it forces
you to be looser. You don't have to care as much because you're probably gonna make
a mistake, you just plug away. It's not gonna be exactly perfect, you just
gonna have fun with it and explore with it. Trying to develop a few ideas.
And so in a sketch, often times using, in a sketchbook situation
using a pen or an indelible
tool, then you're not gonna fuss with each drawing.
You're gonna just do the best you can and then move on. And it's that repetition
and that mileage that's gonna make you better. Because no matter how beautifully
you render any particular drawing, in six months,
in two months, in two years, you're gonna be a lot better and you're gonna think that drawing
that you thought was a near masterpiece early on, isn't quite so good any more.
And so it's really mileage. Getting lots of starts, learning to
start the process of drawing. Start the process of
getting a figure on the page or getting a light and shadow pattern. And not
so much the finishing of it. We wanna begin. We wanna learn how to
begin. If we begin correctly we have a much better change of ending
correctly and in the beginning our endings aren't gonna be
so great. And so let's just work on that beginning and build our confidence.
Build our eye so we really are seeing correctly
not just kind of glancing but really getting in there and seeing
the true relationships, the true details, and the -
what's truly important when we look at it.
So those materials can help
us do that. Now let's look at
some pencils. And -
oh the last one - I didn't show you this. Newsprint. This is, in some
ways the best choice because it's cheaper. It's what they use for
newspaper. That's why it's called newsprint. And it's off white, it's kind of
a dirty white because it's so cheap. And this way yellow -
if you put this out in the sun for a day or two it's gonna start to get yellow
almost like it's burnt a little bit. And it will deteriorate and fall apart
very quickly and just become pulp. So
it's cheap. And you can feel - have no pressure
that if you do this horrible drawing you've wasted a large amount of money,
you can just throw this stuff away. In classes oftentimes
the students, and I will encourage my students,
to use a pad that's 18 or 19 by 24 usually. And
then you can orient it whichever way you want and you can put it on those boards with those clips.
So I cut out a piece of wood, or I buy art board,
sketchboard at the art store that has clips built into it and
I clip my drawing pad on there. There's my
five year old playing with that it looks like -
o these are some of my drawings here - no I'm just kidding.
I'll just clip that on my board and I'll just sketch away
and I'll just turn the page or rip the page off or unclip it
from the clips, go to the next page. I l'll keep several underneath.
I can pull this off of the
backing and put it on my board or I can leave the backing on it so that it stays
in booklet form. And you can get these in any size.
This surface here is newsprint that I do my lectures
on for everything I'm teaching. And I just take these on
they're loose pages. And these are 24 by 36. They're big pieces
and you can actually get bigger out there. And then you can get much smaller. You can get
you know 9 by 11 kinda size and that kinda thing. So newsprint
is terrific to work on. It's a relatively smooth surface
so you can do nice gradations on it. It's not going to
fight you that way.
You can see how it blends on there pretty well. And so I can
do my work with tone or line
and it's not gonna fight me. it's pretty user friendly.
So that's probably what I'd suggest first. And you can get sketchbooks full of
newsprint. They're usually not ring bound like some of the ones I showed you before,
they're glued together like that bigger pad, which is fine.
Now in terms of pencils. There's a ton
of brands out there. There's
General, there's Conté à Paris, there's CarbOthello, there's
Berol, and there's a million others.
And you can pick any that you like. I actually like the CarbOthello
and the Conté à Paris pencil.
But I use mainly the CarbOthello. They come in any color of the rainbow
basically. You can get bright oranges and yellows and
all that kinda stuff. I stick to the earth tones. I use the
reddish browns, kinda the brick reds,
burnt umbers, burnt siennas, in that whole range.
burnt umbers, burnt siennas, in that whole range.
The way I draw it as I showed earlier is a little - I had a slightly purpilish
brown to it. So in that range. I don't want
bright colors because the bright colors will fight. If I do
a rendering and I do a bright color
for the shadows...
One of the things we'll learn in painting class is light is color,
that's how our eye translates light as color. It's
blue, it's yellow, it's red. And so if I try and make the shadow
a bright color, our eye, our mind tricks us and really wants it to be
the light side. And so it starts to destroy the form. But if it's a
earthier brown -
browner version of that color, there's no problem.
It's just a pretty - it's just not a dirty
gray tone, it's a prettier tone. But it's not a tone that fights the
idea of shadowy, dark, absence of light
and all that kinda stuff. So I stick to the earth tones.
So CarbOthello as in the Shakespeare play
Othello. Carb as in carb and Othello.
And those are terrific. And there'll be a listing of materials at the end of the lecture for you.
That you can copy them from. Those are terrific. But experiment. Try
your own. There's a million out there. You can - there's waxier versions
of color like Prismacolor. Prismacolor, the waxier pencils don't
work well on newsprint, you're gonna have to go to one of the
one of these kinda pads
where you have the white paper. Then it'll take it a bit better.
But the problem with the waxy pencils is they don't smudge.
You can't blend them as easily, and so it slows you down.
When your working quickly, as you are when you're beginning, doing sketches
and preliminary exercises, you can't work through it quickly, you have to slow
down and it becomes more of a rendering exercise. In the beginning
we wanna kinda stay away from the rendering. We don't want to make things perfect in the beginning.
Because it's gonna be all for naught. We want to get basic principles down
and then that perfection of technique can go on top of those good, solid
foundational principles. So the waxier versions of things, like the
Prismacolors I stay away from.
And when I'm sketching a good old cheap bic or ballpoint
pen, you know that you can buy a pack of them for just a buck
or so or buy a little bit nicer pen, they're still
only a dollar or so oftentimes at a stationary store,
something that feels nice. And you can sketch with that and again,
that won't erase and I don't like the idea
of my students erasing in the beginning when they're doing sketches from life on the
big pads or they have a sketchbook. I want all of those mistakes to be there
so that you're really creating your own how-to.
This is how you do it, no, this is how you do it. Ah, this is how I did it. Now why is that
successful and those last two not successful? But if you just stick with
one drawing and keep working away on it and say
okay that's not right, so I'm gonna change colors. No that's a little
better. Now I'm gonna change techniques. That's a little better. Now I'm gonna do this, now I'm gonna do that.
And six generations later you end up with a masterpiece and you go, now,
how did I get there?
So you struggle
and you goof up and you struggle and you goof up and you struggle and you goof up and
you struggle and you do better and then you don't struggle
at all and it turns out perfect. Now I can kinda compare those and see
why these struggled and this one worked so well.
And I can start to see by comparison, by
mileage, a strategy that works for me.
So those - let me see if I missed anything. Those are the
basic tools. There's a few others here. There's
drawing sticks you can use. And you can put those sticks
into a holder, kinda like the old cigarette holders they used to use
in movies. But they come like this. And there's different
brands. Here's General. The most popular probably is Conté à Paris.
They come in two or three different browns as we talked about
the earthy tones that don't get in the way, they're a nice pretty color. Watteau if you
ever look up Watteau drawings, he used - in fact this
is called sanguine, basically red-brown Watteau.
Watteau was a rococo artist did these beautiful
drawings and he used black Conté
and brown Conté
and white Conté.
And what I will do is I will take a razorblade or I use an X-Acto
knife and I'll whittle it down like it's a stick -
pencil point with it so I can create a nice, sharp line, or I can
turn the pencil sideways and create a softer line. This is actually
a waxier version, so it's not a great tool for this.
But I can get a softer line or a crisper line by
sharpening it into a pencil point. So
these sticks typically come in black, a few
tones and white. And you're just doing basically tonal drawings
without any color to speak of.
How I will then sharpen these things
is this way.
I use an X-Acto knife, but some people like one sided razor blades.
And I will whittle the pencil down, or the Conté stick
down so it's kind of a space
rocket like the old style space rockets that you saw in the sci-fi
magazines. And I'll whittle it back
so the wood's out of the way of the
lead or the chalk or whatever the material is. The charcoal.
So this'll be my brown charcoal.
This'll be my whittled away wood and this'll be
my painted finish of whatever brand. This is the CarbOthello.
And what I want
is about a quarter to a half inch here.
If I do more than that, and some
people do a lot more, there's a good change I'll break it. I'm
very heavy handed so when I push on things - I'm hard on brushes, I'm hard on pencils
if it's any more than a half inch I'm gonna tend to break it off.
So I like to make it about that. And
then this is gonna whittle back a half inch or to an inch.
And here you can see it's close to three quarters of an inch.
Here it's closer to half an inch depending on how it -
the imperfections of the whittled wood there.
And then it's a nice tapering cone. I like it slightly
convex, slightly bulging, so that when I lay it down
on the paper, I can
get a nice soft smudge. If it's perfectly sharp,
like an electric eraser - I'm sorry an electric sharpener
will do, then this and
this often times hit the paper and this doesn't hit the paper at all.
And you can't get a soft line. And then - so I'll whittle it
away with my sharp instrument and then if I need to -
and I typically don't - I'll just scrape it with the razor
blade or the X-Acto knife, but what you can buy is these
sand pads at the art store. And you can peel them off, they're just
stapled on. When you have one that's too dirty you take this and you can get - I'm
rolling it back and forth in my fingers and I'm sharpening that pencil so it's
a nice smooth transition
up to the point and so I have a good point because as I draw it'll wear down and
dull. And there's no edges on it, it's not
faceted so you're gonna catch an edge. And then this is what I do. And you can draw
this way, you can draw this way,
Oftentimes people will draw this way and they'll paint
this way. I like to draw this way and paint this way.
And the reason for that is I'm slightly out of control.
When I draw this way, notice what happens. I'm drawing from my shoulder.
I'm using the big
muscles. And that's gonna hopefully make me get the big ideas
down. Those big ideas. If I go this
way, look at what happens. I'm drawing with a couple joints of my finger. I'm probably gonna
noodle on all the little ideas. You know, the eyelashes, and this little
tone against that little tone. I wanna get the big ideas. I wanna build a
drawing the way I build a house. I want to start with a big, broad foundation,
and then the basic strong walls. And I'm gonna build all that
foundational, structural, standing up in the hurricane kinda
stuff. And then I'll decorate it at the end. I'll pick out the door knobs and the light bulbs and the
wallpaper and the paint and the carpet. And I'll decorate it however I want
after I know it's gonna hold up. And that's the same way with my
drawings, my paintings, and my sculptures. I wanna make sure
that the foundation is strong. The big ideas are
crucial. So one of the things I'll do is I'll work from the big
For example, the thenar
eminence, that Latin something that's so intimidating
is just an egg. I'll just draw a big simple shape, instead of all
these subtle tones. Big, simple shape instead of all the
subtle tones. So we might use this. And all the
sophisticated anatomy. I'll go from big and simple to
small and complex.
Big and simple to small and complex. Get the
big things working. if they ring true, if they feel solid
and convincing, then add the details
on top. The decoration. Stick with this though.
Begin a lot of drawings, begin a lot of paintings.
Don't worry about finishing them off just yet. Get those big, simple ideas.
So, then this is how I
draw with my - technically. If I want to make a
contour style line, I'm gonna
turn my pencil in the direction of the stroke.
If I'm gonna draw a soft, blending,
rendering, tonal kinda line, I'm gonna turn my
pencil against the stroke. See how that's a softer line.
This is a sharper, crisper line.
And now I can get either one I want. I'm gonna draw the
edges of the two sides of that ball. The
contours. Then I'm gonna draw the soft
tone of that ball. And I'm gonna always go -
pencil's always gonna be pointing against the stroke to get that
soft edge. Against the stroke
to get that soft edge.
And you can see how I can fairly quickly render
this pretty convincingly. With the stroke to get that
crisp edge. With the stroke, pencil's pointing
with the stroke to get that crisp edge.
So, creating the tool in the right shape becomes crucial
for that. And this slight concavity
settles into that soft, grouping of padded paper.
Those several sheets of paper, they're like a pillow, they give a little bit and that pencil
settles down. One of the things I'll do on this corner of my page, I'll make sure I can get
a soft edge and a crisp edge. And I'll kinda rotate the pencil
around, drawing, rotate, draw, rotate, draw, make sure
I get a crisp edge, it's not catching on some imperfection or some
little facet that's gonna throw me off. So
we want a charcoal style
pencil. Or a chalk style
pencil or a stick. They're more or less the same thing.
Chalk's slightly more waxy, charcoal's slightly more
smudgy. It can get a little dirtier but it's easier to render.
Typically we want to stay away
from erasers. But if you're gonna do a little bit of pencil work
before you draw with your
ballpoint pen or your fountain pen or your marker or
something, you want to draw light little pencil lines. Kinda ghost in the drawing and make sure you're not gonna screw it up
too much. If you end up with a really nice little rendering in pen and ink let's say,
you can take an eraser and erase away that pencil line.
Now if it's my sketchbook I'll leave that because part of the charm of the sketchbook
is showing the process. Show the thinking
of it. When I do gallery - my shows - I will often time
put in preliminary work for just that reason because the
collectors, the audience, are very interested in seeing how you arrived at
that finished solution. And often times we end up liking the sketches more
than the finish in some of our favorite artists. Because we can see the energy,
the freedom, the inspiration that was begun,
and it becomes more about the idea rather than the fussy
finish that the final resolution might be where they spent
hours and hours and hours resolving. It looses some of that dynamic
energy sometimes. But if you are gonna use an eraser for whatever
reason - this is actually
a white one but it's getting dirty here - you can buy these fairly
hard white erasers. You can get - they
come in kind of a pink color too, but
the white won't stain your paper. Sometimes those pink ones will stain a white
page pink. And then that's kind of a drag if you have a nice
sketch going on. The white one's don't but they do get dirty from erasing the pigment.
So what I'll do is I'll go over to the side of the paper or I'll have a separate sheet
and I'll erase - I'll erase
it until it gets clean again. Or you can use a kneaded eraser.
And sometimes if I'm rendering in tone I'll use
a kneaded eraser to start to pull
back. There's additive where you add pigment,
add paint or add chalk to the surface. And then there's
subtractive technique, where you take it away, you rub it away.
Rub away the oil paint from the canvas, or erase away
the charcoal from the paper. And you can see how I can start to work
a lighter area in here and create a gradation, or fix
little imperfections and things. And each time I get in there
and scrub a little bit with my erase, whatever it is, it gets dirty. So
I come over here and clean it, or with a kneaded eraser, you knead it.
And you can see how it's cleaner in there. And then you can turn it over,
you knead this for a while to get back pretty much just clean, beginning
self. And then you can erase again. And then it gets dirty and you
knead it out and work it again. But the kneaded erasers you can get in there
and if there's a highlight of the eye you need to get, you can scrub out and
it's - you can turn it into the shape you need to get into those
nooks and crannies of your artwork. When I'm
blending, for the most part I'll just use
my fingers. This is the best tool I have and I'll do it
some when I paint - not lots, but I'll do it some - and I do it all the time when I draw.
Another - let's see where that is - another
surface, this is a
Strathmore paper that I talked about. And this is the 500 series Strathmore.
It's completely archival, there's no acid, never gonna yellow, this
drawing's probably fifteen years old, maybe ten years old,
and it's dirty with its rendering but it's as good
as it ever was in terms of the archival quality. And
I can draw - the line is Conté - and I actually
used alpha colors for the - this was
alpha color, you can get them, they're a pastel stick. They're a little harder than
true pastels, but they're a pastel stick and they come in any color. And
I just use black. This is a slightly broken one.
But I'll use the black and you can get those rich, dark lines. Most of this I did with
my finger. But sometimes if I need to lay in a background I'll use a paper
towel to smudge in all this. Or I'll use
felt that you can buy from any craft store, like Michael's.
Felt - and I can do that. Or, and this is a really dirty one, you can use
a chamois. Now the chamois will only get
so dark. Notice when I do that it's actually
getting slightly light than it was. It won't get any darker than
that. I can't add more pigment to it. And with the felt
and the paper towel and the chamois, if you're adding
pigment on what you'll do
is you'll take your -
you'll take your sanding block here and you'll
take alpha color or whatever you have and you'll
do that. And you'll load up that sand paper
with a lot of pigment and then you'll take this and rub it off
Then look at how I can
smudge in a gradation. I can do the same thing felt. The felt
will eventually get much darker, I can build it up. Now
newsprint is so slick it won't build up to a real dark, but
pretty dark. You can also, if you don't wanna pay for this, just get sanding -
a cheap pad of sanding paper and just use that. I do that quite often too.
And with this I can smudge. And so when you're trying to create
smudged gradations in tone rather than just all line work, you
need tools that will create those gradations, those passages
of things going from a little darker to a little lighter. And you can use what
I just showed you for the big areas. But in these little areas, like a bellybutton
or the bump of the belly, you often times have to get into those
with more careful tools. And so this is called a
stump. Like the stump of a tree. And it's just rolled
paper in the form of a pencil. And you can rub this on your
sanding block and - that has the pigment on it
and I'll have - this'll get all dirty and then I'll smudge in the tone
and blend it back away. And what happens with these kinda tools -
whether it was a brush with paint, or a stump with
chalk or charcoal on it, you'll come to the darker
area - say this area - and I'll smudge that white paper dark
and then I'll keep working that area and slowly drag it
across to fill and this'll stay the darkest area because
what'll happen is there's gonna be less and less pigment on my
stump, more and more pigment stuck to the page and eventually it'll give out
and won't give any more. And if I didn't finish it, I'll go back and I'll load up
on my sandpaper block with more pigment
and I'll rub it again. I'll go over it two or three times.
And I can then slowly get a gradation that way. And then what I'll do is
I'll come in with my eraser - and for often times, like around the
bellybutton I'll use a kneaded eraser. I'll shape it into a little finger of
eraser and I'll work around that lighter
bellybutton, the dark bellybutton, kinda the crater on the moon.
And then light bank of the crater, I'll come in and erase away with
my kneaded eraser and then
slowly - and this works the same way. As I take the stump
it had a lot of charcoal on it. A little less charcoal
not very much charcoal, hardly any charcoal, no more charcoal. It ran out.
This'll work the reverse. This has no charcoal on it when I get a good, clean edge
I come away and erase away charcoal, now it has a little bit of charcoal.
And then I'll do a gradation with that - maybe down the leg. And it has
a little more charcoal, a little more, more, more. Load it up with charcoal, it
won't erase any more. And I'll create a natural gradation that way.
And so we start to get a feel for our tools. This will
always have a load and the same load. Because there's a core of charcoal,
in this case colored charcoal, all the way through it. So no matter
how long I go, I'll get the same amount of charcoal coming out.
Now I can lighten my hand and create a
gradation by putting less and less pressure on it.
But this is always a full load. Same with a
pen or marker. Full load unless it just runs out.
But the eraser is going to erase
a lot and then as it gets dirtier
a little, and then as it gets really dirty none at all. And you'll start to
get a gradation that way. Or the stump or the felt pad
loaded up with pigment, same thing. It'll start laying down a lot
of pigment, just like this did, but very quickly it'll start poop out.
And we'll get less and less pigment and eventually it won't lay anything down
on the page. And so you start to get a feel for what those
tools will do for you. Each ones a little different. But they're shaped
to help you. These are shaped for relatively fine work.
This is shaped for less
fine work. This is shaped for really
broad work. This is shaped for huge
massive areas to work. Not a lot of change
in big areas. And so the tool - this
pen is designed - this is dried - but is
designed for a highly detailed and minute work.
Because it's leaving a little, skinny line. So each tool will have
its own use and its own difficulty and we'll start to use
the tools that best help us. Typically I don't want to work too crudely
because I'm gonna fight it. I'm not gonna be able to get what I need
out of it. And I don't wanna work super refined
because when I do that it takes forever to fill in an area
in shadow and it just slows me down.
And the detailed tool keeps wanting me to get into the little
small, complex areas when I really need to be working the big, broad areas. So I
typically like the
pencils, the charcoal pencils that have - I can get
them fairly broad and fairly refined
both. And then I have kinda the best of both worlds.
Alright, but it's something you want to explore and
find what works for you. So we wanna work from big and simple to
small and complex.
is just someone that has an idea about the world.
I'm just gonna define it that way. An artist is someone who has an idea about the world.
And here's the thing -
if we look at drawing and refer to
the later lectures and we'll get to specifics on this, but if we think of the art
of drawing there's gonna be two ideas. There's gonna be
what we call the structure
and what we call the gesture. And you may well have heard of these
and you may well not if you're new to this.
The parts. The thumb has a certain
structure, it really just means the shape. It might be
a tube, it might be an egg, it might be all sorts of stuff. We'll talk about
that in a little bit. But we're just gonna
substitute the problem area for some simple
shape. Some architectural solution. Then the
problem becomes how to fit all those shapes together in
position, in proportion, and in rhythm.
And what we'll find is, things that are alive have this wonderful
rhythm to them. Now
learning to draw simple parts instead of
difficult anatomy is not all that hard, to be honest.
It's something you can learn fairly quickly, in a few
classes, in a few semesters you can get quite competent
at drawing basic architectural shapes.
Just like you might for a building on the street.
You know it doesn't take that much practice to learn
to draw little tilted rectangles for windows and
big, kinda blocky, cube type shapes for
buildings. We can do that pretty quickly.
So the learning curve on this is not so hard.
Now we'll spend our life refining, picking just the right parts,
learning to render them perfectly. But even then rendering is
not very difficult. It just takes a little bit of practice. It's a language
and we have to learn the mechanics of the language and memorize a few
ideas, be able to see it here, and see it
here. Make your hand and wrist and pencil, the
tool, do for you what you're thinking and what you're seeing. That
takes some practice, but not that much. It comes pretty quick.
But getting the gesture,
which is really the connection between the parts,
is very, very difficult to do. Most people
never do it really well. And I'm gonna give you some strategies and lecture
after lecture how to do it well, but it's still gonna take a lot of practice. It's gonna be
difficult to do. In drawing, by far the most difficult
thing to do is connect the parts. Make these
related. Beautifully and truth fully together. Exactly how does that
mass here, that thenar eminence move into the end of the thumb. Exactly how does that
forearm move into the hand. How does the upper arm move into the forearm
Those rhythms, those relationships - the
relationship between the parts is hugely difficult.
You'll spend your whole career, and you'll wish you had two or three other careers,
to master it. In
we have the shapes, we're gonna have a
shape of light, say over here. And a shape of
shadow over here.
So we have a bunch of shapes
in our painting. We're gonna back this light, this shadow, this foreground,
this background. We're gonna have a series of shapes.
Those are the parts.
And we're gonna have the harmonies in color.
The color harmonies. That's
how those shapes that we plug colors into relate together.
The drawing dictates how we place those
structures. But in paint the problem is the color harmony.
How you get those colors to relate truthfully and beautifully together.
That's the relationship between the parts. How does the
color of light in a particular shape
work really well, harmonize,
with the color of shadow that I've chosen.
It's a relationship between light and shadow,
foreground, background, local color, object of
local color object. Balancing those many parts.
The fruit and the still life, the trees and the landscape, the figures
and the composition. How you balance those, how you relate
them beautifully and truthfully. That's the harmonizing of it.
we have the steps,
that's the parts,
and then we have the dance itself which is
the relationship between each steps.
You put those steps together into the dance
and you have this beautiful relationship of rhythm through body.
Now I can squeeze my body into several ballet
poses, but I'm a lousy ballet dancer because I can't
move from step one to step two to step three, let alone step
forty-five and forty-six beautifully. But with a little bit of practice, I could
eventually contort my body into every one of those shapes presumably.
And I'd still be a lousy dancer if I couldn't move smoothly
and beautifully from step, to step, to step.
That's what great dancing is about. The dance, the
connection of those steps, the relationship of those steps, it's what's difficult.
we have the notes
There's our parts.
And we have the melody.
And we have the song. That's the relationship
between the parts. Now I can hit every note on the keyboard or the piano I'm proud to
say. I'm a lousy pianist because I can't
get those notes to work in that right
rhythmic time that creates that melody or song.
I can hit this note, I can hit that note, but I can't string four or five notes together beautifully
or truthfully in their correct relationship.
In every art form we would ever look at. All art
forms, you always have the separate pieces in
relationship to a greater whole. Related together in a greater
whole. The drawing is all the pieces put
in this beautiful relationship of rhythm.
In this case, watery design for the figure. In paint it's all the
colors in relationship of harmony. In the dance
it's all the steps in the dance. In the music it's all the notes and the
melody. In writing it's all the characters in the story arc, or the
settings. Every art form deals with this
binary system of isolated pieces
fitting together in a complete
whole. One drawing,
one still life. It's not six peaches and a pear,
it's one still life. One dance, it's not forty-six steps.
One song, it's not eight or twelve notes
or chords. It's one whole.
It's one novel, one story, one film.
The amazing thing about art, all art forms work on this binary
system. Now why would they do that? The reason they do that is art
was really designed to explain life. Now, science
fixes life in a way. It gives us washing machines, vacuums,
cleaners, it sends us to the moon, it protects us, it
endangers us. It does all sorts of stuff to make life function
better. But that doesn't give our life any meaning. Art
comes from the same place that religion and philosophy came from originally. You go back to
those cave drawings and the scientist, the philosopher,
the theologian was also the artist.
And they're trying to explain the world like a scientist is, but they're also trying
to explain our place in the world, which science can't really
but religion and philosophy and art try to do. They're trying to tell us how
we fit in. And what is our experience of life? Our experience of life is
being an individual cell. A separate
personality trying to fit into life. And just think of the
tightrope we walk when we're trying to do that.
We have to live life in such a way that we get what we need
to be happy. But if we take too much, we alienate
the group. The wife gets mad, the teacher gets mad, the
employer gets mad, the political party gets mad, the other nation gets
mad, and so we have a tightrope. We have to get what we need
to get to be happy, but we have to be willing to give enough
that we fit into the whole. That we have our place. And we all take on
these roles. We become the teacher or the student. We
become the son or the daughter. We become the artist or the
viewer, the audience. And depending on the role you take on
you act very differently. You're gonna talk very differently to your
child than you will to the stranger on the street.
Or your boss at work, or the person who might want to
buy a painting from you. You put on different hats. You're different
things at different times. Now how in the world can you take
all the people in the world, with all our split personalities
of being different people, different times, and make it work? How do we
fit in to that? Whether we're a cave man or
a space man, we're gonna go through these same stages of life. We're gonna
come into the world that we didn't ask to belong to, we're gonna be dependent on people
then we're gonna strive to become independent,
and then having left our family, we'll build our own family
and we'll try and find a way to make time
before we die. And each of those stages
creates a conflict. Us against the world. Now it's a drag that the world's gonna get
along just fine without me when I'm gone. I gotta struggle
with the realization and deal with it and so what we really want to know
as people is not how to clean the dishes quicker, not how to
find a cheaper car, we want to know why we're here and how we fit in.
And that's what the theologian tries to do in religion,
that's what the philosopher tries to do, and that's what the artist tries
to do. Or at least used to try and do.
It's not just about making beautiful, pretty pictures, that's part of it
but we're hoping that that picture, that painting
speaks to the audience. In fact, that's what the
audience is hoping for. One of the great things about art is
you've got cheerleaders. Now how often in the world does
everybody really want you to succeed? That's more or less what happens
in art. Now maybe there's a jealous, competitor artist out there who doesn't want you to succeed.
They want to sell your paintings and not watch you sell yours, but the audience comes
to your art show, they go to your movie, they read your novel,
they listen to your music, and they want it to be the
greatest experience of their life. They want to come away feeling
uplifted, elated, and transformed, transcended.
They want to feel a connection. They're coming to you
hoping that you give them the best story they ever read, the best
movie they ever watched, the best series of paintings they've ever seen,
they desperately want you to succeed because they want you to show
them how they fit into the world. What
that world really means and why they're
here and how they can fit in.
How they can make it work. And when life works or your art works
it can be a glorious thing and when it doesn't work it can be a miserable thing.
And the art is really defined to create a
complete whole where we can
just feel like we fit, feel like it's all working. When our life
works we feel like we fit in perfectly. We're the missing piece to the
puzzle of life and with us there, everything runs
smoothly at work, in our paintings, in our family,
whatever it is. We desperately all want to feel that all the time.
And so the artist is really trying to explain
life. And so our experience of life, of being these separate
characters fitting into a whole is exactly the structure
of every art form and exactly for that reason. The art forms
were defined, designed, to explain
that gap. This is me, this is
the whole world. I'm something inside this shell
and everything else is separated from me. I have to reach
for it to try and connect to it, physically and emotionally.
Art tries to bridge that gap.
We all have great gaps in our life. Art and religion tries to do it.
What does every religion try and do? It tries to show that
we, as an individual, are really somehow connected
to the whole. We're connected to God, to Nirvana,
to the great mystery of life, whatever it is.
Every religion is trying to show us how we fit into that greater whole.
That there's a place waiting for us that we will be more complete when we
get there and that the system will be more complete when we're added to it.
When we find the truth and accept the reality of it.
All art, all religion, deals with exactly those same problems,
because those are the experiences of our life. They always will be
no matter how advanced we become. And so art is
there to give us those revelations, those epiphanies.
And so we're gonna struggle in our craftsmanship
to get all those pieces of the body, or pieces of the
picture to fit together in a beautiful,
transcended, lovely, truth speaking whole.
And it's gonna be the
hardest thing we ever did, but when we get it right
we're gonna feel it and, more importantly, our audience
is gonna feel it and they're gonna be changed by it. Probably just this much changed
but when they come away and see that life can be a beautiful
sunset or as in Van Gogh's painting,
an old pair of shoes, well worn but still
holding together. Those things become metaphors, they
become revelatory truths, they become pictures that speak to some
underlying reality that hits us in the gut and we go "Ahhhh,
yes that is it", that's what it means. At least for a moment, that's
how I fit into it. That's what we're trying to do with art.
Now the problem we have, as teachers, is
this. We're gonna be talking about all the parts. Okay, buy this pencil
and this paper. Get this light and this shadow.
This foreground and this background. This hand and this arm.
This tone and this line. We're
always talking about the pieces. We break it down into parts to
explain it. When the real job of the artist is to bring it all
together. And so there's a real issue, there's a gap -
huge gap in any kind of teaching of art
or when you're talking about religion. Same thing. How do you talk about the fact
that we are all connected by talking about these separate things?
There's God and there's us, somehow we're fitting together. But the more we
talk about it, in some ways the more we separate it.
And that becomes a problem too. Is how do we get
through these principles of understanding
and make it a complete whole. And in some ways we
can't get it here, we can only get it here. But what I want to try and do
is give you a process as a teacher
What I want to do is give you a process that moves you towards that
cohering, that connection.
And so what we want really, out of any class, is a process
that moves us towards coherence.
Completion of one idea.
And there'll be several strategies to it and we'll go through that.
And I have lectures waiting for you that will help you in that
process. But what we want to eventually do is have one complete,
fortunate arrangement. One composition that coheres,
that brings together. And so what we need as artists and
art students is a process that moves us
comfortably toward that complete whole. I'm gonna have
just two ideas, I
said, as any kind of artist. And as I move
from process to process
from move to move, do this and then do this and then do this
and then do this. I wanna make sure that
it's - each move is not changing my
ideas, but refining those ideas.
And by refining them, it's gonna make them clearer
and clearer and clearer and more completely coherent.
Now that's kinda fuzzy talk. In the lectures is where we're gonna have to actually do it
where I'll show you specifically how to get line and tone to work
together. Light and shadow to work together. Active
and passive muscles to work together. Foreground and background
relationships to work together. Colors to work together. There's gonna be
an internal logic that we'll have to develop to do that.
But what we want overall is a process
that leads us. And so I want a process where I can move
simply, not necessarily easily because this hard stuff, I might screw up
several times before I get it right, but it might take me a few semesters
to draw a really great egg
shape, or whatever it is and light it. But what I want
is a step by step
process where each step is fairly - is logical
and fairly simple and it's not too big a step. It's just
a little bit more. So if I draw this side of the form
and then this side of the form, and once I have two sides of the form -
this side of the form, then this side of the form. Once I have two sides of the form
I'm gonna draw the shape of the shadow on the form.
Once I have the shape of the shadow on the form, I'm gonna give the shadow
its own value. It's distinctly darker
than the light. I will know if it's distinctly
darker by squinting to see if the darks separate from the
light. If they don't enough, in my mind, I'll make it a little bit
darker. Then I'm gonna add
the next form. And I'm gonna draw
one side of the form and the other side of the form.
And the shape of the shadow
on the form.
Shoot I screwed up at eight. I want a process
that moves me simply and easily - not easily - simply and clearly and
logically to the next step and when I get in trouble, and I will get in
trouble, I wanna process where I can backtrack
and get to the point where it was working. Okay, well when I drew that first
two sides of the form, shape of the shadow
and then a tone on that, that was working great. But then when I started to add the
second form onto it, I screwed up. So I'm gonna go back to number four
and work on that. Or I rendered too much detail
in both sides of that form. It was much better
when I took away the detail and was at that simpler statement.
I'll go back to that simpler statement, I'll begin again. I'll erase it, I'll start over.
I'll wipe it off the paint, whatever it is to get back
to that simpler stage and then I'll begin again. And go, that's it now I can go
farther up, screwed up here, gotta go back a couple steps and I'll work my way through.
That's what we want a process - And it's a fairly easy -
I keep saying easy - simple next step
to do, with a little bit of practice I can do that. And when I get in trouble I want a
process that can lead me back. But if I fuss around - I go, you know,
that's not right, that's not right, that's not right,
that's not right, well that's not a bad
bone, now it's starting to look something, let's work on a little bit more. And eventually you end up with this
masterpiece, you won't know how you got there and you won't know how to repeat it.
If it's right you won't be able to explain why it's right
in your own thinking. And if it's wrong you won't know why it's wrong.
We need to have clear definitions. If we have clear
ideas of what is right and what is wrong
then we can work towards that goal. And of course we'll
all have a slightly different interpretations, but we'll start to get a vision of where we're headed
and we'll have a means to get there that will
hopefully be reasonable and possible for us with some
practice. That's what we're after in our artwork. We're really
looking to give people joy and sometimes
powerful experiences in our work. But we have to start somewhere with a craft
and the craft is developed exactly as our experience
of life is developed. Getting these pieces to fit into a whole.
And we're gonna have a simple process. We're gonna find the pieces.
We're gonna call that structure and we're gonna have a
strategy for getting those pieces to relate, to fit, to
connect together. That's gonna be called the gesture.
And so now we know the problem in life
is also the problem in art and unlike in
life, the solution in art is fairly
clear. We can look at something and we can tell oftentimes
why it's wrong. Usually we'll be able to tell
why it's wrong, or think through why it's wrong and we'll have a strategy
for fixing it. It doesn't mean we'll fix it right off the bat, it's gonna take a lot of
practice, this is a very difficult thing to do, it's gonna take a
lot of attention
and concentration to understand it, let alone master it
but it's reasonable in terms of its
logic, we can approach it and fairly quickly we can start to
move towards that solution. So that's what we're after. We've
talked a little bit about the craftsmanship, the materials,
the goals in art and the strategy for making art. I haven't given you any
specifics on how to do it. You're gonna have to stay tuned for that and I hope you do.
Thank you very much.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview43sNow playing...
1. Questions that Define You as an Artist10m 32sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Overcoming Obstacles to Become a Better Artist11m 50s
3. Choosing Your Sketchbook10m 42s
4. An Analysis of Paper Types11m 46s
5. An Overview of Drawing Tools9m 57s
6. Materials and their Effect on Your Drawings11m 25s
7. An Introduction to Gesture and Structure8m 50s
8. The Importance of Parts and the Whole9m 42s
9. Developing an Artistic Process7m 32s