I recently had the pleasure of working privately with artist, Cathy Fe over the last 6 months. It was all done online as I live in Florida and Cathy lives in Illinois. It is amazing to me the world we now live in. At times technology seems daunting and impersonal and other times it is exciting and rewarding. This is one of those rewarding and exciting times!
Cathy approached me about working with her privately as she was looking to take her art to the next level. She had ambitions of entering her first juried show and wanted some help finding her way. Together we set up a schedule that worked for both of us and began setting goals and deadlines. She wanted to translate some of her photographs into graphite drawings. She had a wonderful collection of photos she took of old worn tools. The richness of the textures and patinas were a strong attraction for Cathy and she wanted to interpret her photos into graphite. We worked on composition, framing, technique and more. Cathy met her goal and exhibited 2 beautiful graphite drawings along with a companion photo into a local juried exhibition in Chicago.
She recently sent me an email of her TOP 10 TAKE AWAYS from our time together. I was really impressed with what she learned and thought I would share them with you!
1. THINK AHEAD. Plan your pieces so that they can fit inside standard-sized frames after matting.
2. SPEND TIME PLAYING WITH DIFFERENT SUBSTRATES. Your first paper choice may not be the best.
3. THE REFERENCE PHOTO IS THE STARTING POINT, NOT THE GOAL. Use it as a source of ideas about what to include and information about how things look and how light falls on them.
4. REFERENCE PHOTOS LIE—OR AT LEAST DISTORT THINGS. Following exactly all the lines and angles in the photo can, as often as not, lead to wonky images that don’t read correctly in your drawing.
5. LIGHT SOURCES AND EYE LEVELS MUST BE CONSISTENT FOR ALL OBJECTS IN THE DRAWING. Different photos/ real-life set-ups will usually vary in regard to these points, so you will have to know enough to correct them consistently for your piece.
6. INCORPORATE A FULL RANGE OF VALUES. Both in your choice of subject and in your rendering of that subject, you want to have very light and very dark values to avoid having your work become a sea of middle grays.
7. A LIGHT TOUCH GOES A LONG WAY. Paper is easily incised, and some lines just can’t be fully erased, so layer and use a light touch.
8. THIS TAKES TIME. Hours, days, weeks go into a well-rendered, realistic drawing.
9. YOU CAN DRAW WELL. If you do all these things—especially putting in the time—yes, you can draw well.
10. THE ACT OF DRAWING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE DRAWING ITSELF. What you learn by doing the drawing is the real value of the piece.
This was a great experience and I look forward to what Cathy will do next! I hope you find her tips insightful…. I know I did. Seeing them all in one spot made me realize the value she got by working with me. I was so happy to see her realize her goals and take the leap to next level. I think my favorite tip was #10. Did you have a favorite?
Do you have a project you want to work on and feel like you could use some extra help and guidance? Email me at Mlighthipe@mac.com and we can discuss how I might help.