The Sharpest Sharp and Softest Soft

All too common among self-taught artists (as well as some trained ones) is a lack of edge variation in their work. Although the opposite also occurs, this error is most often made by representing all edges as being equally sharp. But to make an accurate representational statement you must use the full range of edges and this begins with finding the extremes: the sharpest sharp and softest soft.

The Darkest Dark and Lightest Light

Context is everything, or so the saying goes, and it’s so familiar that it’s easy to quickly skip past it. But stop and think about it for a minute. In any given scene all values are unconsciously perceived relative to every other value.

The World of Light and the World of Shadow

Depending upon how deep you want to go, the principles of light and shade can be quite complex. Nonetheless, everything hinges on the fact that light travels in a straight line. Upon hitting a surface light also reflects back in a straight line. How much of that light reflects back to your eye is dependent upon whether the surface is in the world of light or in the world of shadow.

Flat As A Hat

Keep your shadows flat, flat as a hat, flatter than that, is a saying of which Mr. Gammell was quite fond. At first glance it might seem like nonsense, but that assumption would be incorrect. Flat shadows are integral to creating the illusion of depth.

The Farthest Back Straggler

After spending enough time on this site, or at an atelier that comes down through R. H. Ives Gammell, you will soon notice phrases like, the big-look and piecemeal seeing. The former is always deemed to be good and the latter, bad. The surest way to avoid the bad and pursue the good is to work on the farthest back straggler first.

A Heroic Distance

As a student of Charles H. Cecil’s, one of the directions you would regularly hear was to stand back a “heroic distance.” In my mind, along with the command, I see Charles walking forward towards the student’s setup and at the same time swinging his arm back behind him. That gesture was meant to push the student back while Charles pointed out something on their artwork or on the model.

A Fresh Guy With A Fresh Eye

Have you noticed that the longer you work on a drawing the more difficult it is to see your errors? There are many reasons for this, from your eye tiring of the scene to cognitive dissonance. Whatever the reasons, we all need help in order to see our errors. To that end, R. H. Ives Gammell thought it essential to have a fresh guy with fresh eye.