Saturday, September 26, 2015

2) Lighting: using a simple still-life to cast shadows

I decided to try a pencil sketch today focused on lighting and shadows. I haven't researched proper techniques or methods in capturing shade and lighting but thought I would resort to creating a simple mock-up for practice. It's been a long time since I've had life drawing, which I loved in school, and realize now that I really need to get out and focus on light and shadow as it's occuring in nature!

For today's practice, I set up a simple still life:

I then found a wonderful mouse image on the internet from this site:

and here is my combined little sketch:
I decided to cast the light from my desklamp and see how the shadows fell..the thimble is a treasure from my grandmother by the way. :) Oh, and little woodstock is brand new..a little something I picked up at Target the other day. I think the Snoopy movie is on it's way. Anyway, Woodstock was my mother's absolute favorite. I just had to pick him up.

I found the shadow to be pretty sharp, and quite fascinating to see the little bit of shadow that is cast by the upturn of the thread. I decided to do the same for my sketched-in-mouse's tail.

I am heading outside now to sketch a little something in nature.

Thanks so much for visiting!

An update! Here's a quick pencil sketch of the sunset this evening. It's very quick, but I wanted to capture the clouds...what beautiful shades to try to capture!

and in researching online for some good books about lighting, I stumbled upon this wonderful blog by Alan Carroll, who specializes in decorative finishes and murals in New York City.
This post describes "how to draw shadows on the Acanthus", a very beautiful decoration. Alan posts images of George Smith, "Furniture Draughtsman to His Majesty", who produced an incredible volume of Plates in 1826 "comprising instructions in the elementary principles of Ornamental Foliage enabling the student to draw with facility and correctness in this so generally useful branch of the Art." I found this fascinating as it described step by step the artist's method in creating the shadows, but more specifically doing it in a methodical way so as not to get caught up on each tiny shadow's detail. The overall effect, is impressive! I extrapolate this find by thinking about surface area and how light hits and how there are shallow shadows, overall mid-toned shadows, and then deep and distinctive shadows. Please visit this link, it's incredible!


  1. How beautiful this is Shirley. I was so thrilled to read about your book well deserved my friend. Sending hugs from our holiday in Rhodes xx

  2. It has never occured to me to look at taxidermied animals for reference, even though I know Audubon and others did. A charming drawing, but then so are all of your other drawings :)

  3. Thanks for the links and info, Shirley. Your sketches are wonderful! I love the shadow of the thread and the mouse's tail, too. And wow, that's quite a challenge to capture a colorful sunset in pencil, but you did an awesome job!

    For the longest time, my mother believed that Woodstock was a flea, because he was always hopping around after Snoopy. :)

  4. So beautiful! And now my mouse has a mousy friend to keep him company...


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