Perspective, light and shade in charcoal and pastel

Following the success of the first drawing and painting course I attended in 2010, I was keen to go on another course. The second drawing course was longer: 14 weeks over Spring 2011; held at St Thomas of Aquin’s.

The tutor was Michael Mulready. I have attended a couple more of his courses since this one, and will be attending more in the future. His lessons have been useful in exploring artistic principles.

The first half of this course covered perspective, light and shade. We used charcoals and pastels. I had no experience using these, but soon began to enjoy the quick expressiveness that they give. Unfortunately they can get quite messy too. A cheap unperfumed hairspray is a necessary addition to the toolkit so that the powder can be fixed.

We started with a basic exercise in perspective. Drawing boxes. This pattern can be seen in street scenes, with parallel lines of buildings. After doing this exercise, I paid more attention to such scenes out in the real world, to see how they could be painted.

This drawing of a barn (from a picture) exercised perspective. To draw it, we learnt to pick out the dark areas lightly first, and gradually build up from there.

Another drawing – from a picture of an art installation. This allowed me to practice of my handling of pastels.

The following charcoal drawing was made in the corridor just outside the classroom. We could take up any location, to capture the light and shade of the surfaces. I chose this point from the top of the stairwell. I enjoyed working on the reflections of the stairs in the large windows.

Stairwell reflection in St Thomas of Aquin's

This was quite an advancement from the still life paintings I was producing by the end of the previous course. And I was only half-way through this one. Next up was portraits and figure drawings.


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