Monday, June 18, 2007

Georgia O'Keeffe Month: Learning about Notan #3

Cactus #4
8" x 8", coloured pencil on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've been finding it very difficult to reduce to just two value Notan. Although I understand the principles, it would appear my brain does not want to play!

Prior to my recent studies, my habit has been to test out the design of a composition and a crop either using a thumbnail sketch or PS Elements or both.

So, for example, in developing Cactus #4 (still awaiting a name!), I first of all developed a line drawing (see below for images of stages). The next stage was to develop the background leaving the cactus spikes undeveloped. This was supposed to be my equivalent of filling part of the design with one darker tone - but of course I started to develop it a bit by deepening some of the marks on the cactus!

It clearly indicated to me how much the introduction of colour can complicate design and makes me understand why Dow recommends focusing on two values and working in monochrome only to start with. If you look at my drawings of the head you'll see that in representative drawings I have no problem in working in mono and then hatching in lines to get tone.

I've also had problems reducing to just three values in the past and tend to want to blur edges between value shapes.

In developing Two White Irises (and three buds), I first of all developed a thumbnail sketch of the design (see left). This was meant to be a three value sketch but note the blurring........ The problem might be because I don't tend to do a thumbnail so much as use most of a sheet in my A5 sketchbook. Maybe I ought to try working smaller?

I'm going to say a bit more about Dow and three value notan later this week.

A new website gallery for Plants and Cacti.
I'm really rather excited about my cacti even though I know absolutely nothing at all about them - I just love the shapes, patterns and colours!

I've set up a new gallery on my website so they can all my cacti can be seen together. It's accessed via the 'Still Life' gallery and is called Plants and Cacti. I've also been rounding up all the cacti photos I took while travelling and sketching in the southwestern states of the USA last year. It's very exciting, I've got lots of good cacti shots and I find virtually all of them very stimulating - so this could be a big series!

I'd be really interested in what you think about how the four completed to date look together in the gallery.



Rose Welty said...

Katherine, I'm so glad to read that someone else is experiencing what I am. I think I get notan, but then all of sudden at the drawing table it would appear that I don't!

And as for your gallery, which appears to be very popular - in just a few minutes you've had 10 visitors - all together like that you can really see the difference in the shapes of the "leaves" but similarities in structure and color. Rather like a family portrait. Fascinating!

Making A Mark said...

I needed reassurance too! It's so odd that something you think you understand mentally and looks very simple proves to be a lot more difficult than you think.

I was very struck as well about the 'family' feel as soon as I saw them together. Makes me want to make more so I can grow the family!

"JeanneG" said...

It turned out very nice Katherine. Did you get a headache trying to get all those pricklies in a straight row? The WDE has a big group of cacti like this one as one of the picture refs. I saved it to do but haven't so far.

Making A Mark said...

The trick seems to be to do a very small section rather than trying to the whole plant. Or rather my approach suits the macro version better than the overview.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Katherine.

Thanks so much for your visit and kind words over at woolgathering.

I'm a regular reader - lurker - here, reading all your entries via RSS subscription, and I learn so much from you every week. Thanks for all you do for the community of artists!

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