Sunday, 3 April 2011

Katie Lee Drawing Workshop led by Gill Condy


 The Katie Lee Drawing Workshop led by Gill Condy, 
Pretoria 15th of February 2011 
Gill in action.
"Remember that no finished work is perfect. It is as good as it can be at the moment it was drawn, with the limitations of your technical skills". - Katie Lee

This was a solid “back to basics” workshop emphasizing the importance of observation and doing thorough preparatory sketches, which is something most of us overlook in the hurry to produce a finished botanical painting.
Gill led us through the book from start to finish, highlighting all the most pertinent points. And although we didn’t do much drawing other than shading a few tonal exercises, the workshop was very worthwhile for all the information and quite a few “ah ha” moments it provided.

Just a few of the points discussed:
  •   Observation takes time – try not to hurry this stage! Try to use as many senses as possible to get to know your subject.  
  • Use notes to trigger a dialogue between verbal and visual.
  • Note the most important characteristics of the plant – these should be evident in the final work, otherwise you have failed in rendering the plant.
  •  How to properly light your subject, and how light is “read”. The importance of light in relation to focal point.
  •   All subjects, no matter how complex, can be broken down into basic forms (sphere, cylinder, cone etc).
  •   All about graduated shading and building layers of tone.
  • The different kinds of preparatory sketches – line (descriptive), tonal (creating form), textural, and pigment/color study – and why each one is important. The finished painting should be a sum of all of these.
  •   How to draw bending/arching leaves and ribbon shapes. (We got to make a bendy acetate leaf which is a useful aid).
  •  Drawing mid ribs, side veins and growth lines. Shading lines should follow direction of growth.

The book! Very practical ring binding lets you lay it open flat while open on an exercise.
Printed on high quality paper which will stand up to good use.


    The book places a lot of emphasis on tonal studies, and systematically working through tonal shading exercises, with the aim of making technique in suggesting form second nature. I think any drawing exercise is worthwhile, and this book’s exercises, although they seem a bit laboriously obsessive at times, will make one a better observer, and definitely a stronger drawer.

    “Drawing is the foundation of creativity, and technique is the foundation of drawing.”  - Katie Lee

    Review and photos by Samantha Haacke

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