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Practice for Cloudy Nights

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#1 rolandlinda3

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 08:43 PM

On a recent trip, as soon as we hit West Virginia going east we saw clouds. Except for sucker holes two nights, we have had 10 days of cloudy or rainy weather, which is unusual. So it brings to mind some practice exercises that we presented in Uganda or we have proposed to others who are so inclined. These are low budget and designed for a simple piece of paper, one pencil, and one small source of light.

1. Toss either a cooking pot (easy to find in Uganda) or a dog dish (easy in the US) about 6 feet away. In early morning or late afternoon or at night with a light to the side of it, sketch it from about 2 or 3 paces away. Define an outline first....outside of bowl, inside of bowl, and edges that can be seen. Proceed to outline shadow areas. Label the outlined areas in light pencil (L=light, M=medium, D=dark). Blacken the D areas; leave the L areas; lightly blacken the M areas. Keep looking at the dish or pot to correct as you go. Now notice any transitions where the areas are sort of in between. Use a finger or cotton swab or an eraser to meld those transition areas. Once satisfied that overall shapes and lights and darks look like you want, if there is not enough contrast then darken the darkest areas and use an eraser to make sure the white areas stand out the most. Net result: homemade crater.

2. Kids love to play in dirt or sand. Adults often do but don't admit it. Here is your chance. In dim light or at night, get in a soft dirt or sand area. Make an uneven set of furroughs just a few inches deep. The pattern does not have to be regular in terms of height or distance apart. Four is enough. Put a candle or small light in a flat area adjacent to the furroughs so the light is real low (less than a foot). Either stand or sit on a stool or in a tree (kids love the tree part) so that you are looking down or at an angle down toward the little furroughs. Pretend: the deep parts are valleys, the high parts are mountain peaks. Draw an outline of the lightest ridges; draw outlines of the darkest valleys; draw any marks or shapes for ravines or chunks of dirt; label the lightest, darkest, and medium areas (like the dog dish), work on the transition areas. The result: a homemade mountain range.

For both exercises, one kid or two gets to throw the dish or make the furroughs. However things are done, no one can change it....draw whatever is done. If its children, make it a race: they have 10 minutes to complete the drawing. If it is many kids, divide them into two groups to draw so it becomes a competition for each team to get done with the best they can.

For adults, one has to be a little more patient, because they get fearful or self concious. If directing the group, you just make like anyone can do it after you do a quick demo, and keep going.

When the folks get in front of a real telescope or binoculars, you remind them of the exercises and say: you've done this before, look at the shapes you see, do the same thing!!

#2 JayinUT

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Posted 16 June 2009 - 08:52 PM

Great suggestions Roland. The dog dish I did this evening. Just wish I could make some mountains to sketch but the dirt is too muddy right now from all the rain. I am practicing on some techniques though with all of this cloudy weather.

#3 frank5817

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Posted 17 June 2009 - 05:19 PM

Roland,

Very good ideas here. They will work for sure. :cool:

Frank :)

#4 CarlosEH

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Posted 17 June 2009 - 08:55 PM

Roland,

Very good suggestions on practicing drawing craters (shadows) and rides/mountains. Practice does make one perfect as the old saying goes. Thank you for sharing them with us all.

Carlos

#5 rolandlinda3

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Posted 17 June 2009 - 09:30 PM

Thanks for reading. I am sure others have good suggestions. Maybe its just me, but I find the largest hindrance to sketching or even practicing simple things is in adults who say they have not got a bit of art in their blood....having already made up their mind they cannot do it. But with a few simple exercises like what we do with young people, they forget their fear and dive in. After all, who can be self concious after sketching a dog dish? :)

#6 JayinUT

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Posted 17 June 2009 - 10:05 PM

The other side of the coin is when summer finally kicks in there should be a ton of sketches flowing in to look at, learn from and admire.

#7 varmint

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Posted 17 June 2009 - 10:30 PM

Thanks for sharing these ideas Roland. I've tried some of your suggestions that you sent me via PM (basically what you outlined in the first example above), but I just can't seem to get a natural looking 3D-esque feel to it.

I think it's the engineer in me looking for precision on the finest of details and I just can't get away from trying to make the image perfect...but I'll keep trying (one of these day's I'm going to have that epiphany and realize what I was doing wrong...) :grin:

#8 rolandlinda3

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 09:38 AM

Jim, I found the 3-d effect evasive if I tried to purposefully go after it. So, I actually ignored my 3-d interpretation of the scene and, instead, re-interpretted my scenes strictly based on shades of light and dark. Under dim light (when I am sketching), the sketch when 80% done looks flat. The last fifth of my time I accentuate bright whites and the deepest blacks that I can translate from the scene I am studying. Then I quit. When I go into the light and look at the sketch, the 3-D, which did not seem apparent through the first part of the sketching process, appears. This is the only way I can get it to happen regularly. Others may have better suggestions. The exercises above can be used for this if you make sure the overall lighting is dim and the source of light is pretty bright and low. Of course, if you can see the moon (I have not in 2 weeks) then working from the real thing is much better. Roland






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