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Demonstration and Workshop at Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club by Mick Burton, Continuous Line Artist

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Mick Burton explains how alternate shading can be used to colour a completed single continuous line.  This is Dottie, a lurcher pointer cross.   Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club, December 2018.  Photo by Chris Noble.

As a member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club I was delighted to run a workshop in December 2018 to demonstrate how I do my Single Continuous Lines and here I explain (above) how black and white alternate shading was applied to Dottie at the request of her owners.

Here is a photo of Dottie (below) checking out her portrait.

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This is Dottie checking out her portrait, done in Single Continuous Line with alternate shading by Mick Burton.  Photo by Stuart Firth.

I explained what my approach was to drawing Single Continuous Lines.  People often assume that I start at one point and draw the line, depicting my subject, all in one go and finish where I started.  I have done this from time to time, and my cat drawing is an example, but I now complete all my drawings in sections and then gradually connect up all the loose ends.

One of the more enjoyable parts of doing continuous lines is the freedom to incorporate all sorts of patterns involving curves, loops, sharp corners, etc.  In my case doodling these patterns was first triggered when I saw examples of Art Nouveau when I was about 9 years old.   I now drew some examples for the members and asked them to have a practice.

I then explained my approach to drawing an animal.  After doing a very basic sketch of my subject, I put in key marks throughout and then start on one section, such as the head.  Next I will initiate other parts such as legs and other distinctive features before connecting up all the lines.  I do not worry at this stage if there is more than one continuous line throughout, or that the lines may appear to be crudely drawn.

I said that I would demonstrate this approach by drawing an elephant, a subject which I have not attempted for about 50 years.

The result is shown below.  At home I usually start by using pencil on A4 size paper so that I can change the line as I go on.  The result can be scanned into my computer so that I can scale up to any size using Excel.  For Dottie, above, scaling up resulted in printing off 10 A4 sheets to stick together so that I could then trace through onto a big canvas.

For demonstrations I use a thick marker pen, usually on to A2 size paper but as there is a large screen at this club I used A3 size paper.  Poor quality paper is alright as the marker moves more smoothly, but of course a slightly shaking hand is magnified on the big screen.

It is important to keep an eye on loose ends.  I realised that I had three at one stage and was struggling to see the fourth, but a member spotted it on the big screen.  It was not too far away and I could link it back in without making the lines look too congested.

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Demonstration of a Single Continuous Line Elephant, initial drawing, at Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club by Mick Burton, December 2018.

I said that this was fine as an example and the members could now have a go at any subject they wanted.  Also not to worry too much about loose ends or not being able to keep the lines clean.  Part of my aim was to introduce elements that could be incorporated into their own work and to encourage people to develop patterns or techniques of their own.

Regarding my elephant, I said that I would smarten it up later at home, by making sure that there was only one continuous line, smooth out the curves, etc and show them the result at a later meeting.  Also, I would produce a coloured version at home to link in with my intention to explain my colours later in the current session.

I was pleased with the drawings the members produced and enjoyed going round discussing their progress.  Here are a few examples of their lines, continuous or otherwise, including some colouring (which I did not start to cover until after these drawings).

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Kingfisher continuous line by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club, December 2018. Photo Mick Burton.

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Dolphin continuous line by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club, December 2018. Photo Mick Burton.

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Butterfly continuous line by member of Harroagate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton

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Runners continuous lines by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Rhino continuous line by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton

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Horse continuous line by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Pig continuous line by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton

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Dog continuous line by a member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Pigs continuous lines by a member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Teddy continuous line, done on a laptop, by a member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Hen continuous line by a member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Lady continuous line by a member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Cat continuous line, with colour, by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Abstract continuous line, with some colour, by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Abstract continuous line, with overs and unders, by a member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

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Abstract continuous line, with red alternate shading, by member of Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo Mick Burton.

Whilst members were continuing with their continuous line drawings I talked about the backgrounds that I had gradually introduced into my pictures to add to the overall composition including my continuous lines.

Rather than simply have a plain background I have added to many paintings a simple coloured pattern effect which I feel complements the individual composition.  One example is a layered graduation of colours for my Single Continuous Line of a pig with my colour sequence.  I call the picture “Pig with Rasher Sky”.

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Mick Burton explaining his layered background to his painting “Pig with Rasher Sky” at his demonstration and workshop at Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club. Photo by Chris Noble.

Another background is in my “Stained Glass Window Horse” which appears below.  Having spent considerable time in Ripon Cathedral when young I was always impressed by stained glass windows.  I also read a lot of Dandy comics where Desperate Dan sometimes jumped through a brick wall, “into the middle of next week”.  Consequently the horse has a gap in the wall similar to its outline and I have not included any cement and so that the sun shines through the gaps in the stones as well as the glass.  I chose a canvas where the sun can shine through as well.

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Mick Burton explains the stone wall effect as background to his painting “Stained Glass Horse” during workshop at Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club, December 2018. Photo Chris Noble.

Later in the session I explained how my colours are devised and applied and I will cover this in a further post soon, which will also include the finished version of my new elephant and how my colour sequence naturally applies to it (hopefully).