Learning a new skill may be difficult, but what’s important is ensuring a solid foundation that you can build upon. This is the same for art — yet how do you begin to build a strong art foundation?
Firstly, you’ll need to learn to observe. Observation is one of the most fundamental skills in establishing a strong art foundation. When looking at an object, you will need to take note of how it actually looks, not what you think it looks like from your own knowledge.
Take for example this photograph of an apple and a pear. Before drawing, you should take a closer look at the photo. Everything can be broken down into its basic shapes like squares, circles, and triangles. What are the basic shapes of the apple and pear in this photograph? If you said that the apple is circular in shape, is it a perfect circle? Or is it broader on the top, but narrower at the bottom? Are all of its edges curved, or are some less curved than others?
This skill is relevant regardless of your subject. If you are creatively sketching something for an art competition, observation skills are still necessary in order to keep the elements of your artwork proportionate to one another. This is why it forms one of the most important skills you need to beef up your art foundation!
You can also use certain visual aids to help guide your observation. You can relate one object to another in order to correctly gauge their size in proportion to one another. Using the same photograph from above, how tall would you say the apple is? Would you say it is about a third of the height of the photograph? How about the pear? It may be easy to assume that the pear is twice the height of the apple. But if you actually take a closer look, you may find that the pear is actually only about 1.5x the height of the apple! Drawing guidelines can be very helpful in gauging the proportions of your object!
Sometimes it might be difficult to draw exactly what you see, as it might be different from what you think an object looks like. In this case, you can try to practise your observation skills by drawing something upside-down! This forces you to look at the individual shapes and lines that make up the object rather than the object itself. By detaching your mind from how the object is supposed to look like, this method helps you accurately draw only what you observe.
Once you’ve learnt how to observe, you can move on to the next step: lighting! It is important to know where the light hits your object in your drawing. From there, you can tell where the shadows will land. If, as per the photograph of the apple and pear, the light comes from the front, it will cast a shadow away from the object, towards the back of the photograph.
You also need to differentiate between the light and dark areas of your drawing in order to accentuate its highlights and shadows. This is via shading.
There are a couple of shading techniques you can utilise. First, there is hatching. It refers to using a series of parallel lines to shade. Lines that are closer together will appear darker while lines further away from one another will appear lighter. Cross-hatching is similar to hatching, except that instead of parallel lines, it uses perpendicular lines (lines that cut across one another) instead. The area where more lines intersect appears darker than an area with less intersecting lines. Blending refers to using your finger, a cloth, or even a paintbrush to rub graphite onto the paper and gradually blend and build tone in your sketches.
Shading goes hand-in-hand with texture. You wouldn’t shade an apple the same way you would shade someone’s skin — they have different textures! You need to vary your shading technique according to the texture of the object you are drawing. An apple has a smoother surface, so the consistent straight lines of hatching might be useful in portraying the smooth, glossy surface of an apple. On the other hand, skin has a rougher texture, which may be more obvious via cross-hatching.
Now, you can begin to build perspective! You might not necessarily see the need for perspective in the photograph of the apple and pear, but how about when you’re drawing a building or a street?
Perspective is an art technique to create an illusion of depth, or three-dimensions, on a flat (two-dimensions) surface. It follows a simple rule: things that are further away appear smaller, while things closer to us appear larger.
While learning perspective may seem intimidating, it’s actually not that difficult. Not if you have professional teachers guiding you through the technique! Visual Arts Centre offers a range of courses catered for both beginners and intermediate learners, with trained art professionals to teach you the necessary skills you need to master your craft! Be it Drawing and Sketching, Acrylic Painting, Watercolour Painting, or even Oil Painting, we offer courses on a flexible schedule to cater to anyone and everyone who might want to pick up an art hobby!
We have studios in Dhoby Ghaut and MacPherson. Our Dhoby Ghaut studio is a five-minute walk away from Dhoby Ghaut MRT! Just exit from Dhoby Ghaut MRT Exit B and turn left, and we are just a straight 30m walk away!
Address: 10 Penang Road, #01-02 Dhoby Ghaut Green, Singapore 238469
Our MacPherson studio is located at AZ @ Paya Lebar. Simply exit from MacPherson MRT Exit A and turn left, we are right across the road!
Address: AZ@Paya Lebar, 140 Paya Lebar Road, #03-04, Singapore 409105
Art is not at all difficult if you establish a firm foundation first, and here are some tips we have to guide you along your art journey! If you feel like you might require a little more help, or would like to learn alongside others, feel free to learn more about Visual Arts Centre’s art courses and contact us for more information.
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Visual Arts Centre