Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Sketchbooks and quick drawings

We're back in business!

Since drawing and sketching are fundamental parts of visual art, we went to the Wallace Collection for a drawing workshop.

The workshop started with a brief introduction to the different themes to be covered that day:
  1. sketching
  2. details (tone, light, shadow, shade)
  3. portraits
  4. proportions
After being introduced to various drawing materials such as charcoal, conte crayons, pencils, and felt tip pens, the children were encouraged to try out different ways of mark making -- first making different marks with a single material, then comparing the marks made by different materials.

After this was a gallery session when we were shown how to note tonal differences using various sculptures in one of the galleries.

We spent a fair bit of time in the Armour gallery where the children were briefed about the history of some of the armoury collection there

 Part of the exercise at the gallery was to take artistic notes in sketchbooks, which involved:
  • making quick sketches of 5 minutes each
  • taking notes about colour, textures, and tones

While Tiger was doing his exercises, I thought I would give it a try as well.  I enjoy making art but have not been doing it as much as I would like so this was a great opportunity for me to get a little bit of practice in.  At the same time, participating alongside Tiger in his assignments often gives me a good insight into the potential difficulties that Tiger might encounter in the process.  Hence, I took out the biro and notebook that I always carry in my bag and did two of the rapid-sketching exercises (5 minutes each) alongside the children.  By doing the exercises, I had a taste of the pressure of quick sketches and as a result developed a deeper understanding of the multitude of skills (such as a keen observation, some experience with using different marks to create textures on paper, understanding tonal values) that Tiger would need in order to produce sketches to a reasonably satisfactory level -- skills that he has not been exposed to and thus not expected to have at this point.

The rest of the workshop focused on the art of portraiture, using Rembrandt's portrait of his son, Titus, as our focal point.  The workshop leader went through the basics of portraiture such as the proportions of a human face, while highlighting how Rembrandt achieved three-dimensionality through his masterful use of colours and tones.

At this point, the children were encouraged to copy the master's work using a variety of materials: charcoal, pastels, or pencils.

I decided to try doing it using pastels.  It wasn't easy.

Attending this workshop has given me much insight into where Tiger is at in terms of his level of interest and observational skills.  I think he is not doing too badly considering that he has never been taught nor has he ever asked to be shown how to draw.  A broad exposure to various media and art forms via Art Lab for Kids will probably be sufficient for now.

Tomorrow I will be posting about how we use the book for our in-house art summer school, starting with drawing.

This post is linked up to:
  1. Virtual Refrigerator: Phineas and Ferb
  2. Hobbies and Handicrafts - August 9
  3. Collage Friday - Braces and First Days of School
  4. TGIF Linky Party #89
  5. Weekly Wrap-Up: The One Where We Did Stuff
  6. The Homeschool Mother's Journal {August 10, 2013}


  1. Ah, memories! I did a piece on that very same Rembrandt painting for my GCSE art! I would so love to be able to take my children to things like this, but with 5, no car during the day and the financial commitment for all five it is impossible. I enjoy having the lessons vicariously through you!

  2. We are lucky in that the location is accessible to get to, and taking one child out is definitely easier than taking five at the same time. However, you can replicate these exercises at home without having to go on location. :-)

  3. It is always interesting to take classes in galleries and/or museums. We enjoy them too!

  4. Your post reminded me of when I used to have to make quick engineering sketches of equipment. It's an interesting cross-over skill.

  5. Drawing is really fundamental to many applications. I didn't realise that engineering requires drawing skills too -- I thought it only goes as far as architecture -- so thank you for sharing about that. :-)

  6. Firecracker and I would love to take that class :-)

  7. Thank you for stopping by, raventhreads. It was indeed a very enjoyable and useful class. I hope you're enjoying your summer as well. :-)

  8. I am LOVING these posts. You always seem to offer Tiger such wonderful opportunities. Like Claire, I enjoyed learning a little vicariously from your account. Your art is amazing!

  9. Thank you, Lucinda. I try to find ways for Tiger to learn, that I wished I was exposed to when I was his age. Going for different learning approaches make the journey more interesting for us. :-)


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