That blank sheet:
So some days I can stare at a blank sheet of paper and not know where to start. Well I have a cheat, which is actually just another tool for experimenting with ideas, as there are no cheats in art. I am sharing this technique with you today, so you can give it a try.
Drawing is a great way of observing the world, putting our ideas on paper and developing them. I sketch from life a lot, but sometimes I use photos and I play with tracing paper and carbon paper to help me try out different layout options and ideas. So low tech! I was not even sure I could still buy carbon paper, but I found it in both A4 and A3 sizes, in a few different colours.
It takes me back to when I was teacher, working overseas with no photocopier, so we made work sheets using carbon paper.
How to use carbon paper:
So I am lucky, because I have a photocopier I can use to enlarge photos, so this is where I will often start. Also I like to try out different drawing tools to see what marks can be made. I have been using a couple of unusual tools – knitting needles and a dressmaking wheel – giving solid or dotted lines respectively. I also use a variety of pens and pencils.
Images from books or magazines, as well as photographs, or prints outs from the internet are good starting points. The blank paper is laid down first with the carbon paper on top – ink side towards the paper and then the image is laid over the top. You may want to hold it all in place with some masking tape, as it is a pain if it moves.
Then the fun. Draw over the lines in the picture, until a new image starts to appear on your paper. You can then experiment with this line drawing, picking out certain areas in different colours, overlaying different images, moving objects around to try different compositions and so on.
Once you have a basic line drawing you can then add extra tonal shading and more defined lines depending on what you are trying to achieve. I work on landscape images and I try to extract what catches my attention, which is often the main lines or patterns in the landscape.
Below are some examples of my experiments.
How to use tracing paper:
Tracing paper can be used in various ways too. You can trace from photos and recombine, move images around and then you can apply soft pencil (e.g. 5B, 6B) on the back of the tracing paper, over the lines. This can then be transferred on to paper by turning it back over and drawing over the lines to transfer the graphite on to the paper.
I also use tracing paper to help me when I work on a collage piece. I can mark the area I want on tracing paper, turn it over and add soft pencil on the back, then turn it back over and place it over my collage paper to mark the exact shape required. This shape is then cut out and is ready to fix in place.
It can help to trace against a light, against a window or a light box/pad, but it is not necessary.
I also sometimes use a transparent layer on my collage work, for example: tracing paper, coloured tissue, acetate or even resin. I draw on this layer and then add another transparent layer on top, giving a more 3D effect.
This was just a couple of low tech drawing aid ideas. Let me know what works for you. I am always open to finding out about new tools.
Great quote from Degas to end on: