Negative Space And Chiaroscuro

Compressed charcoal is very useful for making strong lines and very dark dramatic tones. The next series of examples will highlight how to use the medium for this purpose.

The drawings use the negative space way of working we encountered in the Pencils section; see the examples after Van Gogh beginning on page 40. This well established method entails drawing the space around objects to establish the composition. The second stage of the drawing requires you to look analytically at the nature of light and the way it can be used to describe and express a scene and mood.

Before beginning the drawing, arrange the objects on a table.

1/ Establish the composition on the picture plane, i.e. the paper. You can do this by using a window mount to frame the composition that you like best. A tip - don't make it too complicated.

2/ Start to draw your composition from the edge of the paper. Draw what you see through the window mount. Remember that your window mount should be in scale to your drawing otherwise you will get distortion. For instance, if your drawing is A1 your window mount should be A5. Draw a line that goes over the top of the objects and off the edge of the paper at the other side.

3/ Now go back to the starting point on the other side of the paper, and draw a line that describes the bottom edge of the still life.

What you have produced is an outline of the group of objects.

4/ Begin to fill in the shape and form of the objects.

5/ At this point you need to illuminate the still life group. Set up a light from an acute angle at one side. This will create a dramatic atmosphere by throwing long shadows across the group.

Draw the shapes of the shadows using line. It is important the shadows appear as shapes that exist both on and of the objects. See them as abstract shapes. It will help your understanding if you squint when looking at the group. This action makes seeing the shadows easier.

6/ Fill in the shapes of the shadows with the compressed charcoal, making the shaded areas into a dense black. This will produce a very black and white contrasting drawing.

7/ Smudge the drawing, either by tonking it with a rag or, preferably, by smearing it with your hand. The resulting black and grey tones will give the drawing atmosphere.

8/ Use a good clean plastic eraser to bring back the sharp light effects. Do not be afraid to lose some of the edges of the objects in the shadows - such loss is true to life and a feature of this type of drawing. You do not need to give all the detail. Leave some areas deliberately obscure to allow viewers to bring their own imagination to the piece.

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Responses

  • kim
    How to draw chiaroscuro?
    6 years ago
  • elina sademies
    How set up still life for chiaroscuro?
    6 years ago
  • mathilda
    How to use chiaroscuro in drawings?
    6 years ago
  • laila
    How to draw chiroscuro?
    5 years ago
  • inigo
    How to use chiaroscuro drawing method.?
    4 months ago

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