19 October, 2010

Monday's Art Tip 7 - Spice it up with VaRiEtY!

Just a quick one today (it's bad enough that it's actually no longer Monday) - something that I remember that my Year 9 art teacher, Mr Foley, taught me, oh, back in 1984...

break the line.

It's as simple as knowing that (when drawing) a plain, straight, consistent weight line can be boring.

Of course, sometimes a solid, even line is the look you're going for.

But if you want a more realistic image that 'dances', it's good to make your illustration more calligraphic, by pressing harder and softer with your pen or pencil, and leaving gaps in the line - this means the viewer subconsciously fills in the gaps, and becomes more 'involved' with your picture.

(notice the ebb and flow of the lines now?)

I thought I'd draw you an example - so here is a quick sketch of our old tricycle in all it's wonky back wheeled glory.

And then I was going to draw it with a single weight line as a comparison. But one of my children rode it away while I was distracted by the phone... and I can tell you where all the children are now, but I can't tell you precisely where the tricycle is ...

So here is a chair instead (much harder to be ridden away).

And it's late now, so I'm not going to redraw the chair at the moment with a stop-start line. (I might do that another day this week and add it in here.)

But can you see that the chair is quite bland in comparison to the trike and the flowers? And by giving yourself permission to let the line 'dance', you are very likely to make your whole image 'sing' too.

Go on, try it.

It is harder to colour images in photoshop or similar, if you have breaks in the lines so 'dropped in colour' escapes. But there are ways to handle that too, which I'll cover in a future post.

You can use this method with painted lines too - and I'll talk about "losing and finding" edges next week.

Tomorrow I'll reveal the menu for the 'no bake' birthday party too. Promise.

And (this is my last 'and') if you're sweet enough to have read all the way to the end of this post, and you'd like to leave a comment, I'll draw a name at noon this Wednesday 20th October, and send the winner the original of the watercoloured sketch of alstromeria flowers at the top of this page. Just as a little thank you.

So 'thank you'. And happy line dancing!


  1. I had no idea about that, but it makes absolute sense. I've been drawing lately with even consistent lines so that I can drop in colour in photoshop, so I would love to know how to get around that problem.

  2. Thanks for another handy tip! I'm going to try it with the linocuting, varying the pressure of the carving tool.

  3. I never knew that drawing trick. I'll be sure to see it all the time now.

    Though I do like your chair illustration, despite its continuous bold lines.

    I also like the retro trike. You're so versatile in what you can do.

    I'm tired.

  4. Marissa10:31 am

    I am really enjoying reading your art tips. The alstromeria watercolour sketch is beautiful. Reminds me of my much loved alstromeria & oriental lily wedding bouquet.

  5. Hello again :) Enjoying your tips & loving the watercolour!

  6. Now I can see why your hand-drawn transparencies didn't work as film positives, haha. But you know that I love your paintings - those alstromeria flowers will do very nicely, thank you very much. x

  7. I need to practice this tip more often. My biggest problem can sometimes be the lack of free flowing, varied line weights. You do this so well :)
    ANd yes, I would love to win your beautiful alstromeria watercolour!
    Allison x

  8. Hi Anna, funny about the variations in lines. I do that naturally, but Harrison (aged 6) HATES it, and is always poised with pencil at the ready to correct my "mistakes" and fill in the gaps when I'm drawing something for him.
    BTW, I think Year 9 art with Mr Foley was possibly the high point of my creative life.

    Carmel O'S


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