Monday, January 25, 2010

What Are Your Goals for Your Art This Year?

No, I do not call them resolutions. They are goals. Goals that are thoughtfully pondered over and realistically set for both the short-term AND the long-term.

A short-term goal is one that should see completion within a relatively short period of time, such as six-months, one year all the way up to five years. Long term goals obviously then would be five years and beyond. Haven't you ever gone for a job interview and been asked, "Where do you see yourself in five years? ..... in ten years?" I always hated those questions, and usually the interviewers did not like my response (but that's a story for another day). The point is, if one is to succeed, one must first set realistic goals, otherwise one tends to succeed at nothing more than wandering aimlessly.

I find goals easier to manage when they are broken down into small chunks, much like a painting. In case you hadn't noticed, I like to work my paintings one section at a time rather than all over at once. I have to feel like I'm making progress or I get discouraged. When I work one section at a time I am constantly seeing progress. So it is with goals. I break them into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be completed in a short enough period of time that I can see and feel the progress I'm making.

Furthermore, it is important to write how you intend to accomplish your goals. Simply listing your goals is not enough. You need to have a plan of action other wise it becomes too easy to fall by the wayside and never achieve your goal.

Although it is putting yourself on the spot by making others privy to this information, it helps to let others know what your goals are. In this way friends and fellow artists can help you, and I, achieve our goals by occasionally nudging us in the right direction, or reminding us of a goal we may have forgotten about.

So I am taking my own advice and writing my goals for 2010 here. I will not be including what my plan of action is here. That is for you, and me, to do for ourselves, because a goal without a plan of action is probably a goal that will never be achieved.

Here is my list of goals for this next year, and included is the date when I would like to have that goal accomplished:

1. Get established in at least one gallery within the next eight weeks.
Goal = Feb. 28, 2010

2. Do store demos, an "Artist in Action" sort of thing.
Goal = March 2010.

3. Enter at least two national art competitions this year.
Goal for first entry = May 2010.

4. Enter at least two local and/or regional art competitions.
Goal = May 2010.

5. Write at least one tutorial for my website.
Goal = July 2010

6. Finish my Christian paintings!!!
Cowboys for Christ: Goal = September 2010.
Is Your Name In The Book: Goal = December 2010
The Great Compromiser/Deceiver: Goal = June 2011

7. Work on my art basics. Turn what I learn and what I work on into lessons that can perhaps help other artists as well.
Goal: Ongoing throughout the year.

Now what about all of you? What are your short-term goals for this next year? What would you like to accomplish in your artistic life?

I challenge you to think carefully about what you would like to accomplish this year and write out your goals, then write your plan of action to accomplish each and every goal. Make your goals known to others and take their reminders and inquiries throughout the year as encouragement rather than as nagging. You may just find yourself accomplishing more than you thought you would, and hopefully more than you have in other years.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Angles of Light and Shadow: How to Draw the Shadow of an Angled Object

Supplies needed for this lesson:
Straight ruler
Rolling Ruler (if you have one)
8” x 10” piece of paper
2B Pencil
HB Pencil

Yesterday’s lesson covered the very bare basics of shadows. Today, we’re going to tackle the problem of What if the sun hits an object on its corner? How do we know how to draw the shadow and how long to make it? So, take out your supplies and let's get to it!

If you have never used a protractor before, now is the time to give you a brief lesson on how. Look at fig. 1. You will see a line drawn horizontally, and another line perpendicular to that line. Where the two lines meet you will see a circle. That circle is where you want to line up the little circle in your protractor. See fig. 2 to see what I mean.

Fig. 1

Fig 2

To figure out the angle of the light, first decide how steep or shallow an angle you want the light to reach your object. In today’s lesson we will be using a 45 degree angle for the light. Look to the left side of your protractor and look for 40, then count five more bars up and that will be 45. Then, to draw a straight line, you can place a small straight ruler over the protractor (make sure you hold onto the protractor tightly so you don’t accidentally move it), and line the right end of the straight ruler up at the location where the two lines meet, and the other end should line up with 45 degree angle. You can then make a short line along your straight ruler. Lift the ruler and protractor up. You have now drawn a line at a 45 degree angle to your square!

Okay, now that you know how to use a protractor, let’s draw our object, which is a square turned so that the point of the square is facing you. A one or two inch square should be big enough, but you can go bigger if you want. Just remember, you will be drawing lines and a shadow outside of the square too, so you will need a good deal of room surrounding your square.

To help you see just how to draw a square with its corner facing you, look at Fig. 3. Remember when drawing your square, all angles and all sides should be exactly the same! You will also notice that I have drawn in the angle of your light source as well. Use your HB pencil lightly so if you have to erase you can do so without leaving a lot of marks on the paper. I erase a lot since I tend to be a perfectionist, so I draw lightly at first, then when I am sure I have the object exactly the way I want it I will go over the lines with my 2B pencil (using the straight ruler of course).

Fig. 3

Now that you have a 3-d square, we need to finish it off by indicating where the back corner and bottom sections of the square are located. These, of course, would be invisible to your eyes, but are necessary to help you measure where the shadow falls from the object. So, take your HB pencil and, using your straight ruler, lightly draw dotted lines where those invisible sections are located, use Fig 4 as a guide. Ignore the lines in fig. 4 that are drawn outside the square at this time.

Fig, 4

Once you have drawn those “invisible” sections, you will want to draw in some ref points outside your object as well. You will notice the line at the front part and to the right of the object is not exactly parallel to the base line you drew. That’s the way it is supposed to be. You want that line to be just a little bit off of parallel, and you want it to be dotted. Then, from the right corner of the square, draw a dotted line parallel to the dotted line you just drew. Finally, you want to draw one more dotted line from the back corner of the square parallel to the previous two lines you drew. These lines are used to tell you just how long the shadow is going to be.

Before you can continue on, if you have not done so already you will need to draw in the angle of light you want to use. We are using with a 45 degree angle for this lesson. Place the angle of light in the same location I put mine in Fig 4.

If you have a rolling ruler, you'll want to pull it out to use for the next part. The lines indicating the angle of the shadow must be the same as the angle of light. Line up your rolling ruler with the line for the angle of light, then roll it over to the top corner in front of the square and lightly draw a solid line from that corner down to the first dotted line you drew. Do the same to the next two corners on the top of the square going to the right, lining them up with their respective dotted lines. If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, take another look at Fig. 4. I circled the points at which the dotted lines and the angle of the shadow intersect.

Now I want you to draw in the lines of your shadow. To do this you will connect the lines from where the solid and dotted lines you just drew meet. Look at Fig. 4 again and see the small circles I drew where those lines meet. Just connect the dots, so to speak. For more help, take a look at Fig. 5.


You can now erase your lines that show beyond your shadow, and then fill in your shadow using your 2B pencil, and your drawing should look something like Fig 6.


Now you can erase your dotted lines inside the square and add shading and highlights to your square and you will have a 3-d square with an accurate shadow. Congratulations on completing your first lesson on angles of light and shadow!

The next lesson will cover how to draw the shadow of a pyramid and how to draw a shadow cast against a wall.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Angles of Light and Shadows: The Bare Basics

Today I worked on shadows.
I only covered the very bare basics concerning shadows for these drawings. But tomorrow we're going to have some fun while I will show you how to determine the angle of basic shadows for yourself. For that lesson the tools you will need are: a protractor, regular ruler, plain piece of drawing paper 8" x 10" in size, and two pencils - an HB and a 2B.

Here are the bare bones basics for today:

Have you ever asked yourself, " How can I know at what angle a shadow falls from an object?" Well, here is are a few examples to help you understand just a little bit. Remember, this is just a beginning.

The angle of a shadow is determined by the angle in which the light is hitting the object that will be casting the shadow. The smaller the angle - the longer the shadow; the larger the angle - the shorter the shadow.

In Pic 1, the angle of the light on the left side of the box on the top is 40 degrees. I've shown how I drew the lines lightly to determine the angle of the shadow that will fall on the right side of the box.

The angle of light on the right side of the box on top is 25 degrees. Again I lightly drew the lines to show how I determined how the shadow should fall at that angle on the left side of the box.

For the box on the bottom of Pic 1, the angle of light on the box from the left side is 15 degrees. This particular angle would be equivalent to a late afternoon/early morning sun. As you can see, the steeper the angle of light, the shorter the shadow is from the object.

You will notice that as the angle gets smaller, the shadow gets longer so that the light at a 15 degree angle casts the longest shadow.

In pic 2, the angle of light on this box is 65 degrees, which is equivalent to the late morning/early afternoon sun. This angle is steep enough to cause very little shadow from the object because the light is coming from almost directly above the box. A perfectly square box will not cast a shadow at high noon because the light is coming from directly above the box and shining straight down on it.

Now these are the very bare basics of angles of light and shadows. What if the light came from the corner of the box at a 40 degree angle rather than hitting it straight on? What would that shadow look like? It's much more complicated at that point to get not only the angle of the shadow correct, but also the shape and length of the shadow.

Tomorrow, be ready to have lots of fun while I show you how to measure the angle of the light and shadows as well as how to measure the length of a shadow. It gets a little bit complicated, so bring your thinking caps so you can get right down to work!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Use of Our Talents and Gifts

"You have been given a gift, and those that get a gift must use it!"

Although this is a quote from a fictional story called Dragonspell, it can easily be applied to our lives.

To each of us is given a gift, and it is not randomly given. The gift is chosen to fit our personality and abilities. Each one of us are unique and although others may have been given the same gift, no two of us will ever wield it in the same way. Each one of us, depending on our personality and abilities, will develop our own style, techniques, and ways of using our gift.

The greatest misuse of your gift is to NOT use it at all! The second greatest misuse is to use it for evil. I hope none of us ever falls into either of those two categories!

How are you using your gift?

Gazing Toward Heaven