What should an artist do for showing something on the paper? What tasks to set and solve? How to create an illusion of volume on a sheet and a feeling of a three-dimension world?Are there any rules on how to do it? Of course, there are. Always when starting the demonstration part of the master class I talk about the basic important rules of drawing and composition.

The first example I’m going to demonstrate was shown by Alexander Korolev to his students - a professor at the Academy of Arts - who created his own training system based on the old masters principles. Despite the simplicity and clarity of the example, Korolev demonstrated it on the third year of the Academy. He wanted to remind students of the failure of subject painting without constructive understanding and the subjects shape presentation. Anton Azhbe also taught his students using the examples that I will show. First of all, it is sphere’s shape and its’ derivative – cube’s shape.


It just lies on the plane, it doesn't tell us anything about space or the subject or anything at all, it's just a line. Nearby I will draw two more lines and there will be a feeling of an open door edge or pole standing in a space. And when I draw a horizon line then you already have a coordinate system that feels like space.


We draw a circle. Within this circle borders there is some kind of volume, some object’s shape or object itself is hidden. But as long as we can tell practically nothing about it, there can be anything inside the circle line, any shape and any volume. To see and read the shape of the subject, you need properly illuminate it. The shape of the object is shown by light to shadow transitions. The shortest vector from the light source to the object indicates the glare’s location - the lightest place on the object. Rays of light by reaching the object and spreading over its shape gradually begin to weaken and forming a transition from the illuminated part of the object to the shadow. On the border of this transition it is formed the own shadow - most contrasting part of the subject. That shadow is always located on the border of the shape transition and it is always more contrasting than the falling shadow because it is located closer to us. Everything that is closer to us – more contrasting and denser in tone, everything that is further away from us - always looks less contrasting. The shadow falling from the object connects the object and space by indicating the location of the object in the space and also the falling shadow is able to emphasize the shape of the object. There is no sense of space without falling shadow. I draw falling shadow from a ball and the ball becomes tangible so I want to pick it up. The darkest part of the falling shadow is just below the object.


The next example is a cube and I show it because there are rounded objects and also objects that have clear edges. We draw the cube. Using the thickness of the line and the pressure force I can convey the shape and volume at the initial stage so that give the viewer an understanding of which face is better lit and closer and which one dissolves in space. This is the secret for watercolor painting: the line must be alive, forming a volume and transmitting the tense of the form. If this does not happen, then the work will be slurred and indifferent. Shape and volume dynamic are determined by the light scheme.
Line. Sphere. Cube.Space and light scheme

When starting work the artist should make a clear decision in what light scheme he will work and not deviate from it until the end of the work. If the light part is top then the side part will be in shadow, etc. Closer to us shadows will be more contrasting, further away from us - will dissolve in space. It is important to check the ratios of light and shadow and keep them in the selected light scheme, not allowing, for example, the reflex to be lighter than the part of the object in the light and the far edge of the object to be more contrasting with the near one.

Next, I usually give a small composition case as it is very important. Today we have a simple task with you: we draw a pumpkin on a dark background. Using the basic rules of lateral illumination we will make a sketch with a pencil, and then using the grisaille technique the last sketch will be made in color.

When positioning a pumpkin on the sheet of paper knowledge of the “golden ratio” rule helps a lot. With it you can control the correlation of large and small parts of the composition to each other and the relation of these parts to the whole. This is how I define the compositional center that will attract the viewer's attention. You can find out more about the theory of the "golden ratio" in literature, for example, in the book by Fyodor Kovalyov "Golden Ratio in Painting". In my practice when painting, I find these harmonious proportions in the composition intuitively.

The golden ratio rule also works in tone solutions. We have three main tones: light, grey and dark. If you draw light work and grey tones tend to light, then dark tones will be the accent, and vice versa, light tones will be the accent in dark work. There is no need to recalculate all the possible tonality that you see in nature but you need to generalize to three main ones by using the proportional relation of these tonalities as per rules of the golden section. Then you get a memorable tense composition.

Pumpkin. Composition case


For my work I use 300 g/m2 watercolour paper, 100% cotton. It is important to wet the paper on both sides and let it soak well by the water. To preserve moisture I put wet cotton gauze under the sheet, it is very thin and does not interfere with the work but perfectly retains moisture by slowing down the drying of paper. Wet paper must be carefully straightened on the pad ensuring 100% contact of the paper with the surface of the gauze and pad. After that, it is necessary to wet the surface of the sheet with a paper napkin to remove excess water. It is important for us that the paper inside is wet enough so that the watercolor fill is uniform but the paint does not spread over the surface of the paper.


Background: Lemon (214), Cadmium yellow medium (201), Aureolin (253), Golden deep (217), Bright blue (509), Venice purple (365), English Red (321), Lamp black (801). For the light I add a little Cobalt blue (508) since it gives a cold hue as daylight is cold, for the shadows I add Venice purple (365) to give the shadows a mild warm hue.

Pumpkin: Golden deep (217), Cadmium orange (304), for a pink shade in the light – Madder lake red light (313), Venice purple (365), and for the shadow part I add Bright blue (509) and Emerald green (713). The tail from the pumpkin in the light – use Ochre light (206) and in the shadow there is a reflex of colour from the background and pumpkin.


Vivid and pure shades are carefully selected and perfectly combined with each other, and thanks to their mono-pigment composition, they allow you to get any shade, creating an infinite variety of pure and saturated colours when mixed.

Set contains 21 x 2,5ml pans:

Lemon (214), Cadmium lemon (203), Aureolin (253), Cadmium yellow medium (201), Naples yellow light (219), Golden deep (217) , Ochre light (206), Cadmium orange (304), Geranium red (364), Madder lake red light (313), English red (321), Venice purple (365), Ruby (323), Quinacridone violet (621), Ultramarine violet (613), Ultramarine (511), Cobalt blue (508), Bright blue (509), Cobalt turquoise (531), Emerald green (713), Lamp black (801).

Before starting painting, I gently moisten the dark background around the light pumpkin again since the sheet has already dried up. To write a dark, rich background I densely type paint on the brush, as part of the paint goes deep into the wet sheet and with drying the colorful layer brightens, so it is important to immediately gain all the strength of tone. Having a lot of paint onto the brush, I press the brush tightly against the paper and handing it a large amount of paint where needed. I lift the brush and only touch the paper slightly, where the tone density is not required. After finishing work with the background you need to dry the sheet. But before that, you need to soften the borders. To do this you need a wet brush, gently and delicately blur the hard borders of the pumpkin and background and allow the background colour to integrate into the volume of the pumpkin. This way we get a connection between the object and the surrounding space. Also you can go a little further and work out the volume of the pumpkin with the background color by creating a stronger connection between the background and the pumpkin. Such techniques were used by masters of the 19th century.

Dry the surface of the sheet with a hairdryer. Next, I move on to pumpkin. I take a dense colour for the shady part of the pumpkin, using golden dark and cadmium orange, as well as a mixture left over from the background. The drawing of its own shadow forms the pumpkins’ volume and emphasizes its structure and shape. I lay tone after tone in accordance with the light scheme that I talked earlier, additionally filling it with colour. I fill the illuminated part of the pumpkin with a clean saturated color by mixture of golden dark and Madder Lake. Finally, I draw a pumpkin surface pattern which is richer in the shadows and almost dissolves in the general colour of the pumpkin in the light.

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