am usually heartened when I hear disagreements about matters of art and
technique. Maybe I'm just combative that way, but more likely, I think I take
such debates as a sign that there are more artists coming to the table, that
the field is growing and evolving, and that there's no end in sight. This can
only mean good things for someone like me, who spends her whole day looking at
area in which artistic schools of thought differ is how to approach the matter
of shading. Classically inclined artists tend to standardize levels of shading.
Drawing light and shadow is codified and controlled. On one hand, this allows
an artist to get a handle on shading shapes relatively quickly. On the other
hand, this gives the appearance of those shadows a level of sameness from
artist to artist. You can often recognize how someone was taught shading
techniques because they employ them in a certain way.
|A still life painting by Renee Foulks.
schools of thought approach shading differently and allow for more variation
and less segmentation in shadow areas. An artist who typifies this approach is
artist Renee Foulks, who has a great deal of depth and little systematic
transitioning in her shadows. The artist works a lot slower as a result of
this, because she deals with shadow areas on a case-by-case basis.
|A work by Yasuyo Tanaka demonstrating suminagashi.
sometimes "shading" is nothing of the sort. For example, suminagashi is an ancient Japanese technique that produces swirling
marble patterns by mixing water and oil. The results trick the eye with their subtle
gradations, and I know several artists who are exploring this technique as a
way to better understand the abstract qualities of shading.
these differing approaches exist gives artists a great deal of options in the
area of shading. Drawing shadows in perspective correctly, learning how to use
types of shading appropriately, and exploring the nuances of crosshatching are
some additional steps to take in order to begin to achieve artistic mastery in
drawing. For more on advanced drawing skills and how you can leverage those
skills through painting, consider learning from the greatest artists of all
time in the special edition: 75 Greatest
Artists of All Time. It and many other CD and print resources are 50% off
right now. Enjoy!