Sunday, August 16, 2015

Light and Dark with a Punch of Color...

I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach a workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore last month!

My workshop, "Light and Dark with a Punch of Color" focuses on ways to create dynamically composed sketches by exploring the idea of "Notan"--a Japanese word meaning the harmony of light and dark.  Understanding Notan gives us a way to grasp and compose the essentials of a subject.

We start with exploring ways to see the rhythm of light and dark in an urban landscape, and bring that to the sketchbook page--and then add a punch of color for emphasis!

I'd like to offer you a PDF of the workshop handout--It would be great if you could let me know if you find this helpful!

click here:
Light and Dark with a Punch of Color

A sketch made at the Los Angeles Arboretum prior to Singapore...

In Singapore, our workshop site was the Singapore Art Museum, which gave us a great variety of subjects--the beautiful architecture and grounds, people and foliage.  Creating a dynamic composition starts with discovering and selecting the visual story that you want to tell--and it's as much about what's left out as what is left in!  Another key to a strong composition is creating paths for the eye to follow...

While there are many ways to do this, for this workshop we practice creating paths of light and dark, adding the element of watercolor washes, and then use color selectively for emphasis in the visual story.

So, what does Notan have to do with working in color?
I find that practice in making strong value choices in black and white helps you more instinctively create a bolder, richer range of values when you're working with full color!

Sketches from Singapore to follow!


  1. Hi Virginia, thank you so much for the all reportage of Singapore, your workshops and the PDF. Your PDF is very useful to me since some of my debilities in sketching iare simplifying, contrast and values. I missed your workshops in Singapore (I wish we could had more workshop options and not just 4) but I hope to "catch" you in Mancherster. Thanks once again for all your teaching and show us your work.

  2. Hi Artepacja, thanks very much! I am so glad to hear that you found the workshop PDF helpful to your work. I hope to catch you in Manchester as well--it's my great pleasure to teach urban sketcher workshops, and of course I love being with all those fellow sketchers!