Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Q: What's the difference between a Line Drawing and an Outline?

A: All the difference in the world. 

An outline is that imaginary place around the edges of things, where the object ceases 'being', and becomes the background. 
Nothing actually HAS an outline. All things are fairly solid, and just Are, or Aren't. To draw a line around the edge is fine, but if it's all by itself, it doesn't constitute a Line Drawing. 
A Line Drawing provides information, using lines only, about all areas on the subject, INCLUDING, but not exclusively, the edge. A Line Drawing is like a map of the entire tonal range, shadows, markings, outside edges, reflections, everything you see before you, but without the addition of actual tones or shading. 

A drawing which is the outline only is (or can be) an empty, sad and soulless thing. A Line Drawing, on the other hand, can be a fabulous expression of the contours and shadows and all aspects of the subject, but without the use of tonal areas. A Line, expressive?? YES. 

Are you following?? !
Below are three stages of a drawing as sent to me recently by Distance Learning student M L-S. The first shows a heavily simplified outline drawing - this is much more difficult to draw because you are having to edit most of what you see in front of you.


In the second image (above), I lay tracing paper over the first drawing and added more of the 'explanation lines' - the missing information about all the shadows and reflections etc that are visible on the surface of the objects. ALL of these were addressed in the 3rd drawing (below) in the tonal study, but it is much less painful to include the 'internal' information (or Surface Information) in line as you do the initial drawing. The drawing at the top is an Outline Drawing, above is a Line Drawing.

Lovely pencil drawing by Distance Learning student Marianne L-S
Below are more lovely examples of different students line drawings, to illustrate that there is more than one way of dawing in line. These were all done by 1st year Art students.  The 1st, 2nd and 4th are all sketch book studies, size around 12in x 8in, the 3rd drawing was A1 - enormous. As you can see, all the drawings use a variety of weight of line - so that some areas are deemed more important than others. Using the same quality (or type) of line throughout the drawing would create a dull and lifeless drawing, but the use of thicker, heavier or lighter lines not only creates interest, but also serves to provide a certain amount of depth. 

Next Up - Children's Drawing Day, Portfolio Workshop, Big Drawing Day, Water Colour workshop.

For info email

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

When a Distance isn't a Distance

Technology and the internet has transformed our lives, and there's no going back, only faster and faster forward.
This is very exciting, and just about anything we can think of can be reality very quickly. However, this doesn't mean that everything happens quickly. Change is rapid, communication is instant, BUT the skills we need to be really good at something take almost as long as they ever did. This is not a bad thing, it is just the way it is. And perhaps the learning of deep skills is the saving grace that people are seeking - the time and focus required to be really good at something is in that place where the fast-moving world can't reach, once we start focusing - it is a mindset, a choice, a commitment, a discipline.

One of the beauties of the internet is that it reduces miles between us. It means that we don't have to be beside the teacher any more. This week I accepted a new student for Distance Learning - she is in Kansas City Missouri, 4164 miles from me. Or a click of the mouse. It's so exciting to exchange knowledge and create new bonds across the globe - or just across the pond.

And because the requirements of students is different I am beginning to personlise the courses so students get to venture more into areas that interest them individually. This makes it never endingly interesting for me too.

So while students may rightly regard their creative learning experience as a journey, they aren't alone. It's my journey too. In fact, I'm the navigator.

Distance Learning - for info on the course, which has modules in Drawing, Water Colour, oils and portraiture, email

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Pencil Drawing, portrait first stage

These drawings are the first stage in a portrait commission. I don't always do a full tonal drawing but I really enjoyed spending the time on this. It took 11 hours in one sitting to do both studies.

I drew them quite freely as I wanted them to look like a drawing - the aim was to give the client an idea of scale, rather than get a strong likeness at this stage, although it does look like the boys.
Working in Black & White helps focus attention in the right place, without the distraction of colours. A portrait is about the people, not the colours.

Next up - Big drawing Workshop, Portrait Workshop, Distance Learning kick-off, Water Colour Landscapes & Skies, Oils workshop. For info email

Friday, 1 March 2013

'Little Star' Guitar, step by step colour pencil

This is a small artwork, a commission where the client was giving the artwork to the guitar player, David Bell. He calls his guitar Little Star. I decided to use colour pencil as the strings would have been incredibly fiddly (excuse the pun!) if I'd used oil paint.

As you can see, I start with an accurate line drawing of everything. 
This is so that when I add the colour, all I have to decide is what colour I need, not where to put it. 

                          A careful series of layers.

And a close-up to show the pencil strokes. Bear in mind that this IS an enlargement - the lines are small and close together, not long, and with an even pressure - not heavy. More and more layering means that no lines at all are showing in the end result. In colour pencil, less is not more, more is just enough.

Little Star, by Julie Douglas, Colour pencil on Bristol Board, approx 14cm x 14cm
For info on courses, workshops, events and commissions,  email