Today l wanted to talk about something l haven’t really discussed in a blog before. I often get asked by others what they can do to improve their work. Well, firstly l think of myself still as a beginner and secondly l am totally self taught so l can only really pass on what l have learned for myself. So my advice is always simple!
The first advice l give everyone is to take more time. Learn patience. I have written about it often enough and it is the biggest guaranteed way to improve.
But the second thing that would improve the work of nearly everyone who has asked me, is contrast. It is another thing l am still working on!
l wanted to share this close up photo of a tiny part of the Nicobar Pigeon l recently worked. The photo you are looking at (even if you are on a tiny mobile screen) is bigger than the actual size in real life.
Very often when people show me their work it is really good, there is nothing really wrong with it. The drawing is good. The colors are good. It is worked neatly. But the thing that stops the piece jumping off the page is that the colors are all mid tones. They are all too similar.
I chose this section to show you because you can see how the very lightest parts are near white and the darkest parts are black. And although l do use pure black (over other colors) it is always used very sparingly.
Without the very light and the very dark to contrast against the mid tones everything blends together. There are no points to grab your eyes.
Imagine looking at a blank piece of paper. Just plain white paper. There is nothing to focus on. It is not very interesting.
Now imagine a black spot in the corner of the paper. Now when you look at that paper all you can see is the black spot! It jumps out in contrast to the white paper.
When we use all midtones we are effectively creating a blank piece of paper. Our eyes find it uninteresting. When we start to add contrast our eyes are naturally pulled to those areas. We make our work interesting,
The problem with adding contrast as a beginner, is that it is scary! We think we will ruin our pretty colors by adding dark ones. So we are timid and add just a little. But it is not enough to create contrast.
One thing that l have learned is that it is almost impossible to add too much contrast. The darker your darks and the lighter your lights the more your work jumps off the page.
So if you have been looking at your art and wondering what you can do to improve, give it a go! You will be amazed what a little courage and a few dark colors can do!
If you want to see pictures showing the difference as you build up contrast click the link below on making your work look realistic. You can see step by step as l work darker and darker on some tail feathers.
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