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Demo: Materials

Lesson 3 from: Drawing Fundamentals: Getting Started

Amy Wynne

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Lesson Info

3. Demo: Materials

Lesson Info

Demo: Materials

Now I know you might be like, alright, you know, I've been there, done that, don't really need that but I actually wanna talk so that you have a blue graphite pencil in your little kits there. So I know it seems really basic to think about sharpening a pencil. You could absolutely, and many people do this and there's nothing wrong with it, sharpen it in like a little sharpener like this, right. I've got a mildly snazzier one here, this one holds the shavings, so you know this is actually nice if you're going out to a museum to sketch or inside somewhere and you don't want all the shavings to fall on the floor, having something like this is nice. And when you sharpen a pencil in something like this you end up with a tip that has a really, like, smooth cone shape, which all of you have right now, right, it's like right out of the box it's a nice sharp pencil, like why wouldn't you wanna draw with that. And that's great but. It's really great for some things, especially like really fine l...

ine work but another way to sharpen the pencil would be to work with a knife. Now we gotta be careful, this is an X-Acto right, so grab your X-Acto knife don't grab it just gently take it out of your thing. And you can take the lid off, and what we're gonna do is, we're gonna sharpen a pencil and we're actually gonna sharpen a pencil, I'm gonna show you exactly how to do this, we're gonna sharpen a pencil, actually directly onto our paper so it's okay if you make a mess. I'm gonna take you to this very specifically so what you're gonna do is you're going to hold the pencil in your left hand, and I like to brace my hand on the table so I'm not like going up and down with it like really bracing it on the table and then I'm gonna take the knife and you might just check to see that the knife is nice and tight. So if it feels a little, like wobbly you can turn the end and just tighten it up. And what you're gonna do is you're going to, there's, let me just show you first. So on the blue paint, you come back from the blue paint a little bit, angle the knife on a little bit of an angle and then you push away from yourself, see how I just shaved off that piece of? Yes you're watching me on the screen so just shaved off that piece of wood. It's like wildling, right? I'm sure you've all done a lot of wildling. So I'm shaving off the wood and you can see that you know as I do that, the pencil starts to get kind of a more faceted point. There's a sense of an organic tip happening here and I can even sort of shave the lead down so that when it's done, the tip is longer and it has a sort of multi faceted sort of situation which I look at that and I'm kind of excited I'm kind of excited to draw with that now. It doesn't feel like it's been factory manufactured you know like this feels organic already, and so when I'm sharp, so I'd like you to try it. So don't worry, you know just be, this takes practice but just try to, you know, hold the pencil and put the blade on the wood and just push away from yourself. And this does take a lot of practice so if you don't get it the first time, it's really fine. We've got a lot of pencils. And if your pencil breaks it's also fine, alright. So when I was in graduate school, so I was trained in this sort of renaissance tradition, right people would walk around and the person with the longest lead was like the coolest, right? So you don't have to go for that this time around but you could, over time, really work on having a nice long lead and the beauty of the long lead to is that you know, rather than always sort of thinking about chocking up on your pencil and drawing with the tip of it, you can even work with it along the side a little more and we're gonna do that in a moment. So how's the sharpening going okay? Getting the hang of it? The best blade is a sharp blade right so we always wanna have a nice sharp blade to do this. And the lead could break but that's okay 'cause then you just keep sharpening. The thing about, actually sharpening with this method too, especially with charcoal pencils and we'll get to that. With charcoal pencils what sometimes happens is they get dropped, they get dropped either in the shipping or they get dropped, you drop it and because charcoal's a more brittle material sometimes they break up inside. So I've had times where I've sharpened a charcoal pencil and I end up with this little stubby thing 'cause it just keeps breaking, so that's kind of frustrating but these should be pretty stable, okay? Alright. So I'm gonna invite you to put your, so here's a big one. Put the cap back on the X-Acto knife because that is dangerous. If you lose the cap of your X-Acto knife you can actually just embed the blade into a cork or an eraser like that, so that if you have it in your drawing box you're not gonna reach your hand in and get, you know, get hurt. So this is something that you can absolutely do as if you lose the top of your X-Acto knife, which I often do, okay. So you can put the knife away and just so now you've got this mess, right. You've got some shavings and maybe you have a little bit of graphite here. I'd like you, you're gonna get your hands dirty, ready? Alright so I want you just to smoodge it around. So I'm smoo, I'm not sure if smudging is a really technical word but I'm smudging it around and what's happening? I'm getting this sort of beautiful cloudy effect, right? So some people like to have a pigment down before they draw. And this is something that a lot of artists do they'll sort of tone their paper with a bit of the pigment of their sharpened pencil you can also buy graphite powder and do this. So is everyone getting kind of a nice little cloudy surface, yeah, alright. So. Next thing I want you to do we're gonna experiment with this sharp pencil in a second but I want you to grab your white eraser okay. So if we have this beautiful, sort of cloudy surface, you can take an eraser and you can make lines, you can draw with it, you can draw reductively. So I'm gonna show you what I mean. So if I swipe the corner of this eraser across my pigment look at that, it's kind of gorgeous, it starts to glow. So make a couple of eraser marks on here, okay. You're making marks, you're drawing, right? You're drawing with your eraser so that's something you can certainly do to kind of establish like a drama to the light and your other eraser, the gray one, if you pick it up, this is called a kneaded eraser and it's not really because we always need it. But it's really actually about the fact that look at what I'm doing to it, right? Do you remember Silly Putty? Right? So if you manipulate it and squeeze it a little bit, it actually cleans itself. So I'd like you to take the eraser and kind of sculpt it a little, and then you can take this, and actually press it into your graphite, and when you press it into the graphite you see how it picks up the pigment a little bit do you see that? So what's really kind of cool about that is that if I make like a scribble mark, and I say, oh I love that scribble mark, but it's a little intense I don't wanna get rid of the scribble mark but I wanna make it lighter, I can take my eraser and just sort of dab it on, and make it a little more subtle. So you can either use the white eraser to really obliterate the dark or you can use a kneaded eraser to really like, kind of make something more subtle. So it's really versatile and great. And over time, you know, if it gets really dark you can sort of pull on it and clean it and then try again, it's nice, right? So having these two types of erasers I think is really, really useful. Alright. On the same page, let's play with this pencil. So I wanna show you about a pencil hold, a lot of people choke up on their pencil like this like they're writing like, you know, dear mom, right. And that's one way to do it. And actually I choke up on my pencil when I'm making really kind of definitive marks like hatch marks and all that, but I'm gonna ask you to hold your pencil, maybe a little bit more like a spoon, like if you were gonna eat soup, and by doing that, just gonna show you one thing. I can make a line, right? With the tip of the pencil, but because I've liberated my wrist and my elbow and even my shoulder by changing the hold of the pencil I can also sort of work with the side of the pencil and I can notice that there's a lot of organic variety that comes from a different pencil hold, so just try it. So hold your, this might feel really awkward, it's okay that's part of the reason you're here, to try things that aren't your habit, right? So, try just holding the pencil like a spoon and I'd like you to notice how light a mark you can make so almost like feather feather light. And then try just giving it a little bit of pressure and notice how dark the line can get, right? So you notice on this one tool, you can both go incredibly light, and incredibly dark, and create quite a bit of variety, which is great, yeah? Alright. So that's graphite, a little graphite experiment, you might just like tap your shavings to the side a little bit if you want and we can still sort of have this sheet around. And you can put your graphite back. I just wanted to show you one more image of a graphite drawing. So this is just another example of an artist who used graphite, Egon Schiele, who did these incredible drawings, so this is a very liberated sketch with a lot of you can see how there's very dark dark marks and very light marks, it's very expressive and just gorgeous right. So that's the sort of fluidity that we might be going for. So let's try another material, you guys ready? Try something new. Okay so you've learned how to sharpen a pencil, awesome if that's all you learned, you're good right no you'll learn more don't worry. So we're gonna take a look at possibilities of what happens if you draw on paper that's not white? Right? What about that, so I think everyone has a piece of paper that's not white, I think one of you, a couple of you a slightly darker one, darker gray and some have more of a mid gray and it's all good. So this is a drawing I did. I love drawing at natural history museums because my models don't move, and this is something, this is a toned paper and this is also something I did with a white material and a dark material and the beauty of a toned paper is that you can let the tone paper shine through, it's almost like a shortcut, right? You just highlight and darken, and then let the rest just be and it's a very quick kind of method. So what I'd like you to pull out next is, you have on your piece of cloth there, your shammy cloth you have a piece of dark conte and a little piece of white conte. You just wanna have both of those in your hand okay. So the paper that you have, if it's this lighter gray paper it's gonna show up the dark conte pretty well and the light conte. If you have a slightly darker sheet, then the darker conte might sort of blend in a little bit more but the white is really gonna zoom it's really gonna be very dramatic. So this paper has a texture which will probably show up. Conte's a little chalkier, it's not as chalky as charcoal but it has, it has more smudge ability right. So I want you to take your dark conte and just make a few marks with it. And again you can scribble and you can be free with it. But you also may wanna kinda block in an area and when you do that, you see the dappled texture of the paper coming through a little bit, you see that. So depending on the texture you might like, you can choose papers accordingly, then you can take your fingers, which now are obviously dirty and kind of notice how you can make a nice soft effect by smudging conte. You might end up by the end of this class thinking like wow, I'm really a smudger, I love to smudge right, but you might also then decide, you know what actually I'm not a big smudger, like I really like making lines. And that's something that you can play with. Alright. So that's the darker conte. Darker, and actually conte comes in a lot of different colors. Conte can come in white, in black, in red, there's a lot of different colors that can be available and I just chose these two because they have a bit of drama to them but they come in a nice little box like this and that's pretty nice. So let's try the white. Let's see how the white shows up so, let's play with the white. It might be kinda feel backwards to draw with white, right because we always think about drawing dark on a light paper but, the white is really fun and again you can create some nice highlights and you can also mix the white and the brown but notice what happens when you do that. It actually almost makes it a whole other color, right. It sort of creates a different effect all together. So this is a nice thing to play with on a mid tone paper. So that's something that's always available to you to use and it's pretty fun to work with. What do you guys think of smudging? Do you like the smudging? Yeah? It's kind of relaxing isn't it. Cool. Alright. So the experience of drawing on a toned paper is always something that you may wanna try people use it in landscape where they're using white for clouds or they're using it in situations that are very luminous like a luminous sky or in the case of my bird here, having a background that pops the image, okay? Alright. So let's try something else. Let's see. We're gonna go back to the images. So this guy, he was alright, Rembrandt, right? So Rembrandt, this is a charcoal drawing by Rembrandt, 17th century you know that's a long time ago. And pretty gorgeous. Do I wanna play with charcoal. And the longer sheet of paper that you have there is a charcoal paper, and remember I said that this paper actually has a laid texture to it so there's like a little bit of a line in the texture of it, so this charcoal drawing i think is really inspiring, it's got a lot of marks that are going on in it, and then this other one is also awesome. This is one of my favorite artists, his name is Odilon Redon and he was a French symbolist painter, and he did these incredible, sort of surrealist, symbolist drawings and look at the way that the charcoal just, you know, it's like cloudy and but then dark and it's just got this impact right? It's dreamy and all of that. It's jut a material you can't really get that from really anything else in that way, okay? So let's play a little bit with charcoal. There's lots of different kinds of charcoal. Yeah do you have a question? So is that just with one color, charcoal on a colored piece of paper so all that lighting is through there? Yeah so good question. Both the Rembrandt and the Redon seem to have been done on like a sort of buff kind of colored paper, and then things have been taken away which we'll experiment with but all of that color is really background color and all of the values in terms of lights and darks are built up by how much charcoal you're putting down. So let's try that, yeah? And I invite you to ask questions. Thank you for doing that, that's super. So you have a charcoal pencil in front of you, it's orange, and it says, it probably says like charcoal pencil on it. (laughing) yeah. And I'd like you to just start to make some marks with your charcoal pencil, and if you make them across the laid lines, you might notice that you can kind of see those lines coming through, and again, those are to help it stick. And then you might try to create a more solid area. I love the laid paper texture. Alright. And why don't you see how dark you can get it? So you can go very light but if you scribble really hard it's like a velvety black, right? And I'm just, for demonstration purposes, I'm gonna scribble some graphite right next to that. And I'm pushing about as hard as I can with this graphite, but it's not getting anywhere near how dark the charcoal is getting, you see that? So, charcoal is nice and dark, smudgy for sure, right? We can smudge the charcoal. Charcoal pencil has a bit of heft to it, it doesn't smudge as much as, let's say this vine charcoal so, put the charcoal pencil down for a second, and pull out this. This is like the real deal, right? This is like from nature, this is vine charcoal. I want you just to play with that next to the other charcoal feels different doesn't it? Right? It's almost like a dryness to it. You can make lines with the vine. What's incredible about the vine charcoal is that it's really good for preliminary sketches, right. If you were gonna make a painting or make a sketch you're not really sure at first like, what you wanna do with it, putting this down first is really great because what you can do if you take your shammy cloth, which is this yellow cloth in front of you, if you put down a bunch of this vine, you take your shammy, goodbye, right? It just sort of, light, well, it more than lightens it up it takes it away, so it's very forgiving, right? So this shammy cloth combined with a vine charcoal is a really terrific combination, when you're just developing something and you're not really sure where it's gonna go but you wanna have some marks down there and it's actually something that in the future you could even experiment by like creating reductive marks, right? Like taking it away, kind of like we did with the eraser on the graphite like pulling things away to reveal light. So the combination of the shammy cloth and this charcoal is a really, really nice combination. Alright. There's also something called compressed charcoal which I don't have out there for you but you guys are welcome to experiment with it later, it's like a big chunk of charcoal and this is like really heavy and dark, and really pretty messy, but I just wanna show it to you, just as another alternative. So these chunks, I always feel like I wanna make big drawings, right? Like big like on the wall drawings. The pencils I feel like they feel a little more like I wanna make more petite drawings or something a little more detailed. So in terms of how you choose your materials, you know, those might be some things that you consider, right? Alright, let's look, you guys still with me? Awesome, alright. Are you having fun yet? Yes. Awesome, okay. So I'm gonna show you just a couple more materials we're gonna experiment with and then we're gonna start doing some fun sort of drawing experiments okay so let's put the charcoal paper aside and you could actually use the other side of your graphite experiment, you can just flip it over for this next material or you could use a fresh page, but we're just using this basic drawing paper. So this is a figure sketch I did. And I love having a few like colored pencils in my kit, because you never know like, not that I'm making colored pencil drawings that's a whole other thing, but I like having, you know, something like this is like a sanguine pencil, I love it, especially for figure drawing, because it is fleshy but it's also it reminds me of some of the old master drawings like Pandora or Raphael. You know it has that quality to them. Not that, you know, mine's a Pandora or Raphael, but at least if I draw the same material it has a little bit of an illusion of that. So you have a reddish pencil, right? And let's see what it looks like, so. It's gonna be waxier so you can make a line and play with it, maybe push a little harder and notice that, it gets darker and it feels really redder, and again, holding the pencil like a spoon versus a writing instrument is nice, right? And if you try to smudge that, that's not smudging, right? Because the pencils that are made with more wax, like your colored pencils, they're not gonna smudge around on ya, right? So if you want something that's really gonna stay like in this case, I didn't want something smudgy because I really wanted my lines to keep showing like I didn't want them to all smudge out so I chose something like this to draw with. So this is always available. And you know, also in my kit, I have, and this is something you could expend to, but I have like, you know blue pencils and I have some that are like a little more heightened red, you know so those are things that you could include in your kits down the line that might be kind of fun to work with, alright. So what about ink? What do you think when I say, we're gonna make a drawing with ink? Permanent. What id I make a mistake, I can't erase it, right? So that's okay, it is kind of the hurdle of it, right? Like it'S like, what am I gonna do. So let's pull out this multi media paper it's the one that's a little whiter and a little square and, you know, we're just gonna experiment a little bit with ink on here and I wanna show you an example of, a Van Gogh. So Van Gogh drawings are so incredibly beautiful, right? These drawings have, he did them in more of like a walnut ink, again on a paper that was sort of a buff color probably, and he uses, look at all, look at the variety of marks he makes too, dots and dashes and long lines and, you know, if you just took like a little section of this and studied it, there'd be like a dozen different marks in there, and he's making a lot of different marks with the ink and he's creating variety, and that variety helps create space. And action and energy. So he was not afraid of using ink. And there's another image I wanna show you of an artist friend of mine, Amy Yeager. She in this one was using a water soluble pen and that's what we're gonna try, a water soluble pen. So you, so with a water soluble pen, what I love about it, is it bridges the gap for me between drawing and painting. And I know you're not here to paint, would be fun, maybe next time, right? But it's like you make lines and then you can dissolve them, and still have some drawing available and still have some painting in there. So we're just gonna, we're just gonna try that. So I'm gonna show you first right on here what I mean by that. And then you're gonna give it a try. So this pen is amazing. It has, so you can pull it out of your kit there. So on one end it has a tip, like a brush tip and on the other end it has more of a fine tip so there's a variety of marks you can make. So let's just start with that so go ahead and make a line, a want everyone to use the brush tip right so make a line with the brush side of course. So you're gonna make a line and then it almost feels calligraphic right? You can make a line and you can make very thin lines, and long thicker lines and there's something kind of gorgeous about that, right? So there's that. And then try to use the other side. So this side is gonna give you, you can already see it's a thinner line, it doesn't have as much variety, in terms of its width, depending on how you use the pen but it still is really kind of nice. These Tombow pens come in many different colors and shades, so that's something that you might wanna experiment with just as a pen to draw with right? So what about dissolving it though, what about adding water to it, what would happen then? So right on top of the doodle that you just did, I'm gonna invite you to, so you have a tiny bit of water in a little plastic cup nearby, you're gonna take that, and you also, you all should have a little brush a little green brush does everybody have that? So what I'm gonna have you do and I'll do it first just to show you is you're just gonna put a little water on the brush and then you can some into the drawing and you can see that the ink starts to dissolve and you can go ahead and try this, and you can start to sort of just play with filling in some mid tone areas with the ink. You can drag it out into other areas. And so you can imagine, let's say you were taking a trip, maybe you were traveling to, I don't know, Northern California, and you were going to the beach and you were thinking, you know what, maybe I will get that sketch pad and maybe I'll put it in my back pack and maybe I'll get one of those water soluble pens and I'll just bring along a little water and a brush and do some sketching. It's a really lightweight way to kind of be experimental but also make some very dramatic marks. What do you think of this? It's kind of fun, isn't it? You can even get, if you go to a pharmacy and get the kids water soluble pens like, they say washable, right? If they say washable, then you can use those magic markers and do the same thing with them in all different colors very cheap, right? Alright. So this water soluble marker is really great. And then in terms of ink as well another possibility that you can think about is working with ballpoint pen. So we've all got ballpoint pens, well you have them here you should anyways, somewhere in your, did we get ballpoint pens for them? Yeah so I'm gonna quickly just show you what this ballpoint pen can do but if you look at this sketch again by my friend Amy Yeager, of birds you can see how the marks are like, very different than the felt tip pen, right? And people get scared of drawing with pen, but I just wanna show you how you can make a very light mark and then get it darker with pen. So I'm gonna go ahead right next to this and with this blue ballpoint pen I have this sort of, I have this love of blue ballpoint pens. I do a lot of my drawing with it but I can start a drawing like barely I mean if I, if I'm, and you can try this in a second like very very light, like I could start to sketch something very very light, and then once I sort of have the shape I want with that lightness then come in and darken the line, right? So I invite you just to try it briefly like, how light can I make the line with the ballpoint pen and then after I get the line where I want it maybe starting to darken that up. So see how that feels. You might have a roller ball pen or a and again, line quality's key, very light, very dark, very light, very dark again all of that is something worth experimenting with. So there's no excuse for not drawing 'cause you don't have the right material, you can always find a ballpoint pen, or you can pick one up off someone's desk, right? And borrow it, so quote on quote and draw. So it's really really simple materials are sometimes the best. Alright. This is, I just wanted to show this sketch. This is a sketchbook page by my artist friend Mark Adams. He does a lot of sketchbook journaling and this was a trip he took to Thailand. But I wanted to show this one because I think it's just a really wonderful like loose sketch but also he's combined many media here, right? He's got a tone sketchbook, he's got pencil marks he's got ink, walnut ink, dark ink, and he also has added white. And there might be some pen marks in there too. So you can really in this just sort of see how you could actually just throw it all together and just see what happens, and I think it's really kind of lyrical and wonderful to have that liberty to play. And it really is about playing. You see, again just don't, again with all these materials you don't really know what the outcome might be, but why not just try it on, right? So, that's sort of our experimental phase with the materials. Did anybody have a favorite? I like the paintbrush. You like the paintbrush. And you like the vine, okay. Some control. Yeah. How about at this table here? Did anybody have a favorite material? I like the Tombow pen. The Tombow pen. Does anybody have one that they just couldn't wait to put away, like just didn't like it. What was that? Ballpoint. Ballpoint, just couldn't, yeah. See so we notice our preferences, right? And that's really cool, that somebody could love the vine and someone could hate the vine. Somebody could love the ballpoint, somebody could, and that's something that we can notice in ourselves, like, you know, I happen to love ballpoint, but I didn't always love ballpoint, and there's no reason you have to love ballpoint but as you work with it, you might see possibilities for it right, great. Alright so we're gonna move on to some activities in drawing and we're going to start to talk a little bit about drawing from observation, right uh-oh, yeah. So drawing from observation, let's just think about this okay like before we start getting all hyped up about Oh my gosh now we're gonna draw something, a drawing is simply a line going for a walk, okay. If we can just say that, sure. I mean we make marks all the time. I was walking down the beach up in Stinson the other day and I was looking at all the lines that the waves made in the sand and all the foot prints of the little kids and the tracks that the birds were making and I was like, these are all mark making. Right, it's all mark makings, nature mark making, we're just making marks, okay? So we're thinking about making marks, how playful can we be with it? We're not gonna sew. That would be a really cool class to offer though like drawings through sewing. But this is a book that a student of mine made in a book making class I thought and she did a series of portraits inspired by blind contour drawings, which is something I'm gonna do with you in a little bit, but she sewed them. Really beautiful, really simple, right? And it's all about line. This again is my friend Mark Adams. He was drawing street dogs outside a temple and, you know these are really fabulous, looks like he was using a water soluble pen, right? Just drawing, you know, playful, he was not freaking out about how many hairs they had on their nose you know he was just being loose with it. And that's the exact approach we're gonna take. We're just gonna be loose with it and we're gonna work with that.

Ratings and Reviews


I love taking courses with Amy Wynne. (I've taken courses with her at RISD and I'll pretty much take any course she teaches.) She inspires me. One thing I wish is that I had been given a list of materials so I could have prepared for this and done all the activities as Amy did them. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I loved it!


This class was great in demonstrating technique as well as helping me get in the right mindset to draw! I found it very helpful for my own practice and I will continue use what I learned. Amy Wynne is a very thoughtful and motivating teacher.

Mike Sims

So far so good; the instructor is great. BUT please add a list of materials to purchase and have ready to use for the full benefit and experience in this class! Wish I would have known. I will have to grab these items and come back to re-watch the materials demos section of this class.

Student Work