Over the years I have been approached by many people, artists and non-artists alike, who were interested to know what special skill is primary in creating a good representational painting. Whether in egg tempera, acrylics, oils or pastel, a good representational work requires a knowledge of drawing. One of the first things a child does when they get their hands on a crayon, pencil, or chalk is to begin drawing. Lines, curves, scribbles, they go wild with drawn lines. Not coloring in broad areas, not even particularly choosing a color. Drawing lines and shapes. It is primary for human beings to want to place marks on a surface to express ourselves. Letters, musical notes, drawn lines and shapes. It all goes towards the same purpose, communicating our feelings.
As we become more sophisticated with our abilities we will create a musical piece, write a thesis, draw an image. As a visual artist, probably the onee thing I am most proficient at is drawing. I prepare my egg tempera paintings by first drawing my composition on a paper, then my painting panel refining as I go. Only after my drawing is to my liking do I start adding paint. That being said, on July 11th I am exhibiting over 20 of my pen and ink drawings in Athens Georgia at the Lyndon House Fine Art Center. Many of these drawings were the inspiration for paintings I have done. Some may end up as future paintings.
Some of the most important aspects of drawing that I feel are imperative to a good representation piece are composition, perspective, weight, and texture. Let me take each of these items and explain what I find important in them.
Composition, probably the most important element in good drawing, is organizing the arrangement of elements in the drawing space. The importance is to get the viewer to follow the image elements towards the center of interest of your drawing while developing a pleasing layout. A good composition will automatically attract the viewer. Guidelines towards a good composition are fairly specific but are only guidelines. In the long run, the artist must use their own intuitive nature to create their recognized style. Some of my guidelines include: 1) deciding on and creating the primary focal point, the area that you want your viewer to eventually concentrate on, 2) determining the foreground, middle ground, and background of the image, 3) balancing of elements in the piece to keep create a work that is not overweighted in one spot, 4) adding weight which help make the elements feel as though they exist on an actual plane and are not floating in space (unless you have something deliberately floating in space). Along with these I include detailing through shading or crosshatching, using negative areas to attract attention towards or away from objects, creating interesting shapes within the composition, and more.
I hope that you are able to visit the Lyndon House show where my drawings are balanced with the beautiful fine art photography of Tim Reilly, a Madison artist who creates his special images through the camera's lens.
Have a great day.