Last week’s lesson (at the risk of being a little dry) was on the subject of light. On the table, I’d set up a couple of balls as our scene; we began by making observations about how the room’s ambient light was being reflected and casting shadows. Before I knew what was happening, the group had veered off onto a tangential discussion of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave! It was fascinating — so much so that I felt a little guilty at drawing their attention back to our (somewhat bland) subject.
Next I turned on a portable work light, which (mostly) drowned out the light from the windows and from overhead, giving our scene a much simpler lighting scheme. Drawing from this, I introduced a few terms and we pointed them out: the cast shadow, the shadow line, the highlight, and reflected light.
Everyone got two sheets of paper, one black and one white, as well as both a black charcoal stick and a piece of white chalk. We did an exercise: using the charcoal on the white paper, we drew gradations: first shading very faintly (making a pale gray), then a bit more (darker grays), and finally very strongly (deep black). We did the same with the chalk on the black paper, moving from dark gray to bright white.
Then we used those gradations to draw our scene, trying to reserve the darkest gradation for the deepest shadow. We started with the white paper and applied charcoal, thereby rendering the scene’s shadows. Afterwards we switched, rendering the scene’s light (using chalk) onto the black paper.
Finally I brought out some apples, and asked them to draw using both the charcoal and the chalk, applying dark and light. We got a couple of really lovely renditions!