Monthly Archives: July 2017

Medium This Picture Is Not Just For Kids

Draw with Crayons | Lee Hammond | Artists NetworkHow to Draw with Crayons Like a Boss

There’s nothing more inspiring to me than buying and opening up a brand new box of Crayola crayons. I think anyone with an ounce of artistic ability fondly remembers coloring as a child. Just the word coloringmakes me happy.

A few years ago, I wrote a book about realistic crayon drawings. What a joy it was to create, for I hadbrought my childhood dream into my adult professional life. I wanted to share it with others, for few knew that crayons are actually a wonderful fine art medium. They’re not just for kids!

When teaching a class on how to draw animals, we covered mostly graphite and colored pencils, but one of my students wanted to draw with crayons. It was fun cracking open the box of Crayolas and giving the class a demonstration. I shared the illustrations I had done for the book, and we analyzed the characteristics of drawing with crayons.

I think the biggest problem people have when drawing with crayons is that they regress to being five years old again. They hold the crayon like they’re coloring again, instead of applying it like a fine art medium.

Another problem is that many people want to make it perform like colored pencils. While similar in application, they are quite different. You should not use crayons and expect them to behave like colored pencils. You’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Many crayon artists (you can find a few online) use solvents to soften their appearance. It can be a wonderful look but, personally, I love the pixilated look the crayon creates when applied just as is.

Look at the art examples in this post—you can see the speckled look crayon has when applied in layers. This adds to the realism, especially when creating an out-of-focus background, such as in these two images.

10 Tips for Creating Fine Art with Crayons

If you want to try your hand at working with crayons to create realistic drawings, here are 10 pointers:

1. Use Crayola. These are the best and have the best color saturation.
2. Use a paper that will grip the color evenly. I like Stonehenge or illustration board.
3. Have a good hand-held sharpener handy. Always try to keep a point on the crayon. This makes it go on more evenly.
4. Apply the crayon in a professional manner. Just like you would any other fine art tool, use control and be deliberate. Don’t become five years old again!
5. Build your colors gradually, and layer them. Apply a light undertone, and build darker colors slowly on top.
6. Crayons can actually be more difficult to layer with due to the high wax content. Don’t confuse them with colored pencils! If you want the “look” of colored pencil, just use that instead.
7. Some colors are more transparent than others. Some colors are very opaque. Test your colors on a separate piece of paper to see how they work together.
8. Too many layers of crayon can make the colors resist each other. This can make it harder to add more color. Use as few colors as possible to get your end result.
9. Scratch out small lines and details (such as hair, the veins in leaves and flowers, etc.) with a craft knife. Crayon is excellent for scratching due to the wax.
10. Do not get frustrated! You will need practice to get the look you want. It’s worth it!

Happy coloring, artists! Give yourself permission to play again. You may not think working in crayon can produce a professional look, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s all in how you use them!

Beginning Artist’s Guide to Perspective Drawing

Learn to Draw by Putting Things into Perspective

We’ve probably all heard (or even uttered) the phrase, “That really puts things into perspective.” Perspective is all about relativity; when you pull back and look at the larger picture and take a different view, maybe things aren’t so bad, or maybe there’s a solution where it seemed like there wasn’t before.

In Guide to Perspective Part 1, Connors shares basic perspective lessons and shows how you can learn to draw by seeing objects in a different way. In Part 2, Connors expands on those drawing lessons, demonstrating how to draw one- and two-point perspective; then, he applies those drawing techniques to complete a still life, step-by-step.
In the art world, perspective is still about your point of view, and the relationships of objects to one another. Only this time, it’s more spatial. When you learn to draw, you learn the importance of perspective. It’s all about how you look at the world, and that’s exactly what Patrick Connors teaches in his video, The Artist’s Guide to Perspective.

Preview Part 1 below to learn some great instruction about one-point perspective, then head over for both part one and two, access the materials list and more.

Why Perspective and Perception Go Hand-in-Hand

Although the fundamentals of perspective drawing seem to be rather straight to the point, the possibilities of how you can apply perspective in your art are vast. In fact, perspective is nearly synonymous with perception.

What I mean by this is you can use the principles of this technique to create your own perception of the world around you through your art. You have the power of illusion, the ability to make the viewer see what you want them to see, literally at your fingertips. You can alter how your art is perceived—all by just conquering the basics of perspective drawing. How empowering is that?

If you are thinking, “OK, that all sounds great, but how can I learn how to draw in perspective?” Well, to start, let’s go over a few key terms you should know before delving into perspective drawing pulled from the book, Perspective for The Absolute Beginner, by Mark and Mary Willenbrink.

Linear Perspective Terms

Visual depth is expressed through linear and atmospheric perspective, as well as color use. With linear perspective, depth is achieved through lines and the size and placement of forms. And though compositions can vary in complexity, the basic terms and definitions covered in this section are inherent to linear perspective drawings.

The horizon is the line for which the sky meets the land or water below. The height of the horizon will affect the placement of the vanishing point(s) as well as the scene’s eye level.

The vanishing point is the place where parallel lines appear to come together in the distance. In the picture, below, you can see how the parallel lines of the road recede and visually merge to create a single vanishing point on the horizon. A scene can have a limitless number of vanishing points.

The ground plane is the horizontal surface below the horizon. It could be land or water. In the image below, the ground plane is level. If it were sloped or hilly, the vanishing point–created by the path’s parallel lines–may not rest on the horizon and may appear as if it’s on an inclined plane.

The orthogonal lines are lines which are directed to a vanishing point; the parallel lines of railroad tracks, for example. The word “orthogonal” actually means right angle. It refers to right angles formed by lines such as the corner of a cube shown in perspective.

The vantage point, not to be confused with the vanishing point, is the place from which a scene is viewed. The vantage point is affected by the placement of the horizon and the vanishing points.

What is your typical Painting Personality?

How Your Painting Personality Affects Your Painting Process

A painting that was done on a failed, washed-off, previous painting; image courtesy of Richard McKinley

For many painters, the process of creating is filled with equal measures of enthusiasm and fear. This strange mixture of emotions comes into play in nearly every stage of a painting and, depending on the personality of the artist, can be either beneficial or detrimental.

The Beginning

In the beginning stages, painters often find themselves excited to start but intimidated by the blank surface. The apprehension to make the first mark can prove overwhelming. Where should it be? What value and color should it be? What if it is wrong? This is fear of commitment.

The crazy little voice in our head forgets this is the beginning and can easily be corrected. As I told a student one day in a workshop who was frozen at the easel pondering every possible pastel mark scenario, “Just close your eyes, pick up a pastel stick from the palette, and make a mark! Whatever and wherever it may be, you will have started the process and you’ll have something to respond to.”

Middle Stages

The mid-stages of a painting are where we often confront two scenarios: boredom or confusion. For the impatient painter, boredom is a curse that leads to hurried marks. The enthusiasm for the painting has waned and the artist just wants to be done.

Confusion is that point in a painting where we just don’t know what to do. We are driving along, liking what we see, and all of the sudden there is a tree across the road.

When these mid-painting scenarios occur it is best to stop, take a break and divert attention to a new project. This is much easier for pastelists than wet media painters who have to contend with drying. When you come back to the painting, a renewed motivation and clarity is often waiting.

Finishing Touches

For many artists, the finish of a painting is the most difficult stage. As Leonardo de Vinci wrote, “Artwork is never finished, just abandoned.”

This stage is where both enthusiasm and fear can play a major part. While excited to complete and place the signature, there is always that fearful voice, “Is it good? Maybe a little more will make it better!”

This is a tough stage. Many good paintings end up weaker with overwork, and many OK paintings could have been better with a bit more attention.

Individual personality really comes into play here. Some artists need to have the painting taken away, and others need to be encouraged to do more. One thing is certain: Major growth is always accomplished through taking chances and experimentation.

We grow and learn from our mistakes–nothing ventured, nothing gained. Worst-case scenario, you wash it off and start anew.

It seems then, painters are not that different than children. There are those who fearlessly enter into every situation full steam ahead, and those who cautiously wait at the sidelines, tentatively analyzing. Understanding as an artist which personality best defines you can prove very valuable in nurturing creative growth. Just like children, some need to be pulled back and others shoved forward.

Understanding as an artist which personality best defines you can prove very valuable in nurturing creative growth. Just like children, some need to be pulled back and others shoved forward.

One Point Perspective Rules Always Remain

You Can Tilt Your Head, Wink, Blink or Rub Your Eyes — It Won’t Change a Thing

It’s nice to have a few things in our changing world that stay constant. The rules of one-point perspective definitely apply. Once you discover what is behind this aspect of linear perspective, you will be able to paint, draw, and sketch anything–from landscapes to the human body to still lifes–to look real and like it actually occupies the space you situate it.

One-Point Perspective–Defined

One-point perspective is a special example of linear perspective in which all receding parallel lines meet at a single point, called the vanishing point. An example often used is the illusion that a stretch of parallel railroad tracks seem to meet off in the distance though we know that isn’t true–but it is how the eye perceives distance. Artists can use this trick of the eye to create spatial depth in their paintings.

All the Parts

We’re all pretty familiar with what the horizon is. When you picture that set of railroad tracks, you can see where the flat land meets the sky; that imaginary line where sky meets land is the horizon. If we were at sea, the horizon would be the line where the sky meets the sea.

In one-point perspective the vanishing points lie on the horizon, so it’s important that we know where the horizon is. If your scene includes flat land or the ocean, you’re set. Finding the horizon is a snap; you can clearly see it. But suppose there are objects in the way, such as hills, and you can’t see the horizon, so you can’t tell where to place a vanishing point?

Scrap the term horizon and substitute eye level. They are the same thing, but while you can’t always tell where the horizon is, you do know where your eye level is: it’s an imaginary horizontal plane passing through your eyes. If you stand up, your eye level rises with you; if you sit down, your eye level lowers.

What If You Tilt Your Head?

When it comes to defining eye level, it doesn’t matter if you tilt your head up, down or sideways. You can wink, blink, close your eyes, rub them—no matter what you do, eye level always stays the same. It’s still a horizontal plane passing through your eyes, and that plane is parallel to the ground (which, after all, is what horizontal means). OK, so if you tilt your head to one side so one eye is lower than the other, then what? We’ll just split the difference and say eye level is a horizontal plane across the bridge of your nose, halfway between your eyes!