Northern Virginia Community College
- Annandale Campus
Fall 2014 - Spring 2015-- Syllabus for Art 121 Drawing I
Instructor: Giulio Porta, Liberal Arts Division, NVCC,
Annandale campus. Instructor's email
Instructors office hours: MW 8 to 9 am and 12 to 1 PM, TTR 4 to 5 PM, more hours
available by appointment.
My office is located in the CM
building, room 366. My phone # is 703-323 2135. Fax 703-323 4248.
If you need to see me in person,
please call or email in advance for an appointment. Please
don't expect follow up phone calls if you are unreachable, or your mailbox
is always full. I prefer email contacts.
No prerequisites are required for enrolling in this course.
Lecture 2 hours. Studio instruction 4 hours. Total 6 hours per week.
This course provides instruction
concerning the theory and practice of drawing through a series of lectures
and related projects lasting the duration of a 16, or 12 weeks semesters. Students will be
required to work on specific assignments and resolve them satisfactorily
according to the concepts presented in the lectures, which are introduced in writing in these pages. All this material is available
to you 24 x 7 from ths www site, therefore there's no need to log on Blackboard, although this very same material is also available from that end.
The outcome of this course will be a
portfolio, your portfolio. These few following lines represent what I would like to hear from you during the presentation of your
"My portfolio includes drawings and illustrations
intended to educate, entertain, and showcase my current level of artistic
ability. These drawings don't just attempt to be works of art, they are also illustrations of concepts, techniques,
and drawing methods commonly used by artists".
Let me explain this further:
abstractions, broad generalizations that can yield very different
practical results, drawing from life, emulating the masters, a drawing's
line quality, are
concepts. A personal style, the choice of a particular subject matter,
are also a concepts. Because this a
college level course, you are obligated to discuss and clarify these
issues. Concepts are definitely more difficult to grasps and discuss than
choices related to media, or personal preferences.
Techniques imply specific
ways of doing things using a particular medium. Etching, cross etching, shading with a water
soluble materials using a # 10 round brush, or using ball point pens, for example, are
media related techniques. Successful
techniques are based on a practical "know how" and very rarely border with broad
generalizations, because they can be described in very specific terms
when attached to a particular medium.
- Drawing methods represent a very
structured manner of drawing often based on scientific principals. Perspective drawing is a a good
example of a drawing method. Perspective is structured by abstract
geometric constructions usually simple in nature, and yet it also
require a myriad of richly rendered examples for its complete
understanding. Axonometric drawing is also a well established drawing
method intended to compensate for the lack of objectivity that
prospective may have.
Your entire semester's
production will fall into all of these three categories. This
is important to understand. An educated artist must take responsibility
for the articulation of his/her visual experience, I hope that this will
help you to do so.
The grading rationale is based on a number of considerations which are
listed in this separate page, see
We'll begin with project # 1, that would make a lot of sense, but
you should also read the introduction:
color washes because this
course places some emphasis upon shading with the brush. You should also
take a look to my drawing animations.
Each project's should be view and read as
a chapter of a book on drawing.
Drawing from screen captures
Assignments and related tutorials:
Reading the tutorial listed here below from
1 to 20 is equivalent to reading a book, therefore there is no "other"
book required for this course. You need to relate to the
drawings you'll be working on as they were illustrations for your book on
Each tutorial contains an introductory narrative
explaining the concept that each project is based upon. Try to imitate
the drawing that I am proposing and providing for each assignment. If
you want to do well in this course, your personal production should
go above and beyond the drawing I am providing. You can do that in several
ways: by adding more details, by drawing from an original subject matter,
by adding more water soluble surfaces with a brush for shading
purposes, or by sketching
more with the brush and less with the pencil, in other words by avoiding
details, if your style leads you in that direction. If you are falling
behind, avoid details, and concentrate in drawing clearly the structure
of your subject matter. The concepts upon which each project is constructed
will be the starting point and the motivation for what you are going
The tutorials contain a large number of illustrations
that I have created specifically for this course. If you think you can
learn just by imitation, by all means, start drawing now. Imitation
provides an excellent starting point from which you can develop an individual
style. Imitation includes the concept of tracing. Tracing is also an
excellent way of getting started, in particular if you never had much
experience with drawing. Repetitive tracings executed at different speeds
can build, in your memory, a library shapes and routines. It can
also improve your brain-hand coordination.
color washes. Some of the drawings that you will produce during
a semester must contain surfaces shaded with a water soluble
media. I highly recommend black or brown acrylic paint as the source
of your water soluble material. Black ink must also be used in selected
areas of you drawings, almost any type of pen will do, including ball
point. Please no petroleum based markers. Drawing done with light pencil strokes will
not do as they maybe too weak, don't ad up to much of anything, and
they will not scan or photograph well. Working with ink and the bush
will teach you confidence, something that pencil won't. At least half
of your drawings should include some shading done with the brush and
water soluble material such as acrylic.
- Making correction to your drawing by Redrawing.
These assignments, listed here below,
from 1 to 20, are intended to improve your understanding of the
role and importance that images have in communicating an idea. You should
envision each of the drawings you are going to do as a potential illustration
for a book on drawing, where each project is a chapter of that book.
Each assignment is backed up by my own original illustrations. Obviously
I don't expect you to work in my style, but because of copy write issues
I can't use other artists work in this syllabus.
- Concepts regarding drawing
- 1) The
quality of lines The size, weight, variety,
and length given to lines will contribute to what I refer to as line's
"quality" or personality. A line's quality or personality
defines its role by its appearance, and it is also a major contributor
to your drawing's style, as well as its descriptive properties.
Creating references, real and imaginary lines Imaginary
lines are usually used as guidelines intended to help in resolving
drawing issues such as alignment, symmetry, the drawing of compound
shapes, and proportions.
Proportions The control over your subject matter's
proportions is an indication of a particular type of talent.
Improving your control over proportions can be achieved by measuring
the real or virtual size of your subject matter.
Values or "tonal" values are words describing
what is commonly known as "shading". Control over tonal
values can improve the illusion of volume in drawing objects that
possess overt 3D qualities. Shading with lines will teach you more
about line control then shading by smudging.
Etching, Cross Etching and stippling are specific
techniques used in "shading". This project will address
these technique, and how they can help you in developing an unique
Drawing from your direct environment is a concept and an
option whole heartedly adopted by many artists and educators, some
artist will draw exclusively from what they see, rather than indulge
in fabrications. Drawing effectively from your direct environment
must involve some form of measuring of what you see, this approach
can help you in building a memory for shapes and relationships of
the objects you choose to draw.
- 7) Learning
by imitation, emulating the Masters Imitation and
emulation are big components of the learning process. This project
is not about copying a picture, but rather is about adopting a style,
a style that can expand and improve your drawing routines.
- Perspective Drawing
Guidelines to perspective drawing A drawing becomes an illustration
when it serves a specific purpose, presents an idea that maybe difficult
to presents in words. Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine chapel,
where Michelangelo illustrated stories from the Bible. Michelangelo
"illustrations" go above and beyond just being plain illustrations,
they are works of art for reasons that I don't need to explain. This
project entails the creation of an illustration which demonstrates
objectively how what we see can be measured virtually. This illustration
has the potential of being a work of art if its components such as
the side view of the viewer and the object the viewer is holding are
One, two, and three points perspective An illustration that
combines in one drawing three different ways of coordinating the 3
dimensions, height, width and depth, in a perspective drawing.
The location of the horizon A drawing emphasizing the option
of using a low or high eye level in a perspective drawing.
The landscape from life (a 3 parts project, with each part focusing
on one element of a landscape, namely terrain, water and vegetation)
Two points perspective (a 2 parts project dealing with the
construction of a two points perspective drawing and its rendition)
Modular grids A drawing dealing with the creation of
customized perspective grids.
- 14) Two
points perspective constructed from a photo and a floor plan
This project relates to project # 8 with the exception that the perspective
is constructed from a floor plan rather then a side view. This project
should give you an understanding of how a perspective drawing can
be created from 2D information.
Artificial Light A drawing dealing with the
effect of artificial light (a light bulb or a candle) on a subject
matter such as a still life.
- 16) Day
light shadows A drawing dealing with the effects
of daylight on an interior space.
- Alternatives to Perspective
Orthogonal (a 2 parts project drawn partially on location). Orthogonal
drawing is jet another drawing method that relies on a series of 2D
drawings such as top, sides, and front view of a given subject matter.
Axonometric Another drawing method based on the concept
of objectivity and 3D
Isometric (a 2 parts project drawn partially on location) Another
important 3D objective drawing method related to Axonometric.
- The Drawing of the
The drawing of the human figure The human figure is one of the
most complex subject matters that an artist can draw. Its complexity
stems from the fact that the human body is capable of an enormous
variety of unique poses and expressive gesture. Art 122 deals extensively
with the drawing of the human figure. This project is intended only
as on introduction to the drawing of the human figure. It's unrealistic
to think that just by taking an art class, your artist ability will
improve dramatically, in particular if you only draw in class. The
commitment to learning how to draw well an effectively is in a sense
is very similar to the same kind of commitment that an athlete has
for a sport, listening to the coach is not enough, you got to train,
and if you are not willing to do it don't expect improvements. There
are a large number of exercises you can put yourself through, some
are available to you in this page here > Figure
drawing exercises: improving your speed in drawing the human figure.
Assessment (for the traditional classroom
The evaluation of your work will
take place at the end of each class. You must initiate the process and show
me that you understand its importance. If you leave the classroom without
showing your work to me, you will receive a minus, 5 minuses can decrease
your grade of one letter grade. I need to see your work in order to evaluate
it, even if occasionally I may not have anything specific to say. I need to
see it to build a memory of your production. During class, or at home, try
to focus your thoughts about articulating the kind of visual experience,
concepts, style, and techniques your work is about. You are in college now,
you need to learn how to do that. As your production develops, I'll expect
you to take some responsibility in its regards, talk about your work as "my
work" don't refer to it as "classroom projects", "something we did", or I
"made you do". If you do so you are shift the responsibility concerning what
you have done from you to me. from that attitude I can only gather that you
didn't understand the project, and I didn't do anything about it, that
attitude can only connect to a long list a negatives that will not work in
"Oak Tree" by
Giulio Porta, 2001, charcoal pencil and acrylic color washes on wrapping paper.
soluble color pencils
For the time being I do not have a specific tutorial
dealing with the use of water soluble color pencils. But here are some
What matters the most when applying color pencil to paper
is the PRESSURE of the application and the spacing of the pencils stokes.
Changes in pressure will result in a larger or smaller amount of material
applied to the paper. Consequently when the material is wet the
result will be a stronger or weaker color depending on how mush material you
have applied to the paper.
materials, when wet, will always look more intense, or darker, than
A wet brush is used to
dissolve the pencil material, wet the surface selectively, pay attention to
the direction of your brush strokes, and do not wet the whole drawing
at once. You could begin by wetting the shadows area.
After wetting the shadows areas, stop for a while, do something else (like working on another drawing)
and then comeback. This approach may be crucial for beginners that have
difficulties making decisions quickly.
paper as a palette, pick up color from areas that have a lot of it and move
it to areas that may need more, you'll be able to fade or blend colors. Make
sure to wash off the color in your brush if you have too much of it rinse
the brush and wring it out. You
must have a can of water at hand to shake your brush in it to clean it well.
supplies and guidelines: with the exception of the size of your
drawing paper, there are no major differences
between the material required for the traditional and the DL course.
- one 18"x24" multi purpose paper sketch pad.
- one round # 10 watercolor brush .
- water soluble color pencils: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, brown, black,
white. This is a minimum requirement, more pencils can be acquired.
- Water soluble marker by Crayola are non
toxic and they may offer an viable alternative to color pencils (be
careful I don't tolerate toxic markers in the classroom). They are used
by some comic book artist in conjunction with brush work.
- Titanium White acrylic Mars Black and or Burn
acrylic. The white paint is used for highlights.
- one vinyl eraser, but you can used white acrylic
- cylindrical metal tip
ink pens, the kind you write with, or ball point pens. Do not buy drafting
- drafting tools can be used, if necessary,
among those you must
have an inexpensive compass, and a ruler.
- with those aside, this course emphasizes
mostly free hand sketching.
soft and dusty materials are allowed in the classroom, because of the dirt problem they
create. They also require a fixative which is hazardous to health.
Drawing by Kate Elkins, 2006. Black and white
acrylic washes on brown paper (paper bag). Posted with the artist's
Classroom-Lab Rules, and Guidelines
for the traditional classroom course only
present your work for the traditional classroom course only
If you don't understand an
art term describing an art movement or style, please look it up in the Art Lex