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Drawing on the Edge

Learn to give your artwork a sense of grandness

Expressive Drawing-two students work on their art projects in a studio

A couple of sessions back, we discovered how where you place things in a drawing space greatly influence the expressive quality of that drawing: When you place major forces up high, you create a sense of dynamism. And when you place those forces down low you create a sense of stability, support and comfort.

Now let's look at the different sensations brought about by concentrating things at the edge of the drawing and, on the other hand, placing things in the interior of the space.

See also: What is expressive drawing?

What you'll find is that when a visual element is on the edge, it immediately gains prominence. This happens because you're exploring the defining limits of the space, challenging its very parameters, and implying that things may continue beyond the edge as well. Consequently, drawings that emphasize on-the-edge placements often achieve a sense of grandness.

On the other hand, whenever visual elements are concentrated in the inside of the drawing space, they feel contained, as if inside a vessel. In most cases, these kinds of drawings have a sense of things being harbored, sheltered, comforted, safe and relatively modest in scale.

However, occasionally they may convey a powerful sense of confinement or claustrophobia. Let's tackle this hands-on so you can experience these dynamics for yourself.

What You'll Need: Several rectangular drawing surfaces, all the same size and shape.

Next: Let's get started >>>

What You'll Do:

Work on two drawings simultaneously:

  • Begin each by introducing lines and/or shapes placed both in the interior of the drawing space and around the edges of it. Do this fairly automatically (no thinking, worrying or trying too hard). This automatic drawing will serve as a starting place for you to respond to.
  • Look closely at your two works of art. Notice how the elements in each drawing are working together, and where the energy in the artwork is concentrated. Pay special attention to what is developing in the interior of the drawing surface and around the outside edges of the space.
  • Next, continue to work on your drawing. It doesn't matter so much what you do, as long as you follow your gut instinct and do what it tells you. You might add something new, change something by making it darker or richer in color, de-emphasize something by partially erasing or veiling with paint, or take something out completely.

See also: Learn just about anything online for free

  • Now, look closely at your two drawings and chose one where you'll focus on the interior space and the other where you'll focus on the outside edges. Again, let your instinct guide you in making this decision.
  • Continue to add new elements to the edges of one and the interior space of the other. Do this until you sense that the artwork is complete.
  • Finally, compare the two drawings, and note what your emotional response is to each.
  • As always, share your drawings in the community, and comment on a fellow artist's work each time you add one of your own. Let us know if this is your first contribution to our online gallery; we love to welcome new members into the group!

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