You can see an example here where Antoine Watteau drew the eyes, nose, mouth, and head shape with great precision and then drew the clothes loosely to help convey material.
Artists who made pen and ink illustrations would often render one area of the illustration in precise detail and suggest the rest. This vignette effect caused you to look at the area with the most detail and tonal contrast.
(Illustration I re-inked, after Joseph Clement Coll.)
Illustrators might draw something with lines and then contrast that by adding lively, dynamic splatters.
With these essays, I balance writing and drawing.
Yin and Yang. You play with this in almost everything you do. In one of Marshall Vandruff’s amazing, unique online boot camps, studios’ designs came up. We looked at a design for a studio that one of the students drew, and Marshall immediately pointed out the Yin and Yang nature of there being a drawing table to draw and a work-out machine to train. Body and mind. Yin and Yang.
I realized we do that a lot in life.
We work, or we rest. You perform best if you do both with conviction: work hard, take a break and be with friends and family. You need both to balance each other out; you don’t want to mix them because then you do not get the benefit of either.
I go on holidays where I alternate between bustling cities and rural places. Both have their charms. The middle road, a village would not have the theaters and cafes and restaurants of a bustling city, and also not the peace and fresh air of a rural area. You don’t want something in the middle; you want two sides that strongly contrast each other to balance each other.
This goes for art, too. In your art pieces, contrast color, tone, saturation, detail, loose versus tight drawing, et cetera.
You can contrast shape versus line, color versus black and white, loose versus tight, light versus dark, one emotion versus another emotion, big versus small.
Try it out today, in your sketchbook as a warm-up, or in your next piece! Can you think of two things you can contrast against each other?
I got this idea for a challenge from the Composition Bootcamp which Marshall Vandruff taught. If you ever get a chance to get taught by him, grab the opportunity. He’s one of the best art teachers in the world.
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