Old Masters Academy

Usefull Tips on Oil Painting – the Drawing Phase

The first phase of the oil painting process consists of drawing the scene on your canvas. Here are a few tips: 

* Drawing – Unless you are into complete abstract art (and even then) it is absolutely necessary that you have some drawing skills. In fact, personally, I almost always start a painting with a drawing, be it in charcoal, graphite pencil, or thin paint. I find it reassuring that, by the time I start the real painting, the whole scene is already in place.

* The Four Basic Shapes – I base my drawings on four basic geometric shapes: the sphere, the cylinder, the cone, and the cube. Just about every object can be built from these four forms. Of course, some objects will contain distorted versions of these shapes but they still will give you a good basis from which to create a first fairly accurate version of your scene.

* Composition – Composition refers to the manner in which objects are positioned relative to each other on the page. More formally, it is the arrangement of forms and spaces within the format of the page.

The main characteristic of a good composition in drawing is that it creates a feeling of balance in position. The forms and spaces should be balanced relative to the vertical and the horizontal that go through the center of the canvas.

There should also be a balance in terms of value. Darks and lights should balance each other out in an overall sense. In other words, having too much black on one side or a complete lack of it is generally not good.

The same is true for intensity. The intense parts as well as the dull parts in a drawing should show an overall balance.

Of course, sometimes an unexpected deviation from the perfect balance gives excitement and interest to a drawing. This is a matter of artistic sensibility.

Always choose a focal point in your drawing and compose the scene in such a way that all roads lead to the focal point. The focal point should also be the area where you add the most detail.

Make sure not to place objects such that they divide the canvas exactly in half. Also, space similar objects unevenly. For example, when there are four trees in the picture, don’t space them equally unless that’s the intent.

Don’t let objects kiss each other or the edges of the canvas. Make them overlap or crop them. Also, don’t staircase a series of similar objects and don’t let lines go out in the corners of the canvas.

* Perspective – Here are few rules of simple perspective that may come in handy: – Vertical Lines.  Vertical lines in a scene are also vertical on your drawing paper. – Parallel Lines.  All horizontal parallel lines converge to the same vanishing point on the horizon. Of course, each direction has its own vanishing point. Also, the closer of two equal parallel line segments will always be seen as the longer of the two. – Ellipses. The tops and bottoms of bottles and plates are circular. However, in perspective they become ellipses. The closer they are to eye level the flatter these ellipses become. The further away from eye level the rounder they become.

Of course, there is much more to say about drawing but these few tips will get you started particularly in relation to painting.

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