Art Tutorials, Reviews, and more
About Michael Newberry
Drawing and Painting
See art in a
Michelangelo's dictum, movement
equals emotion, is one of the most important theories in
visual art. Creating a sense of movement is a technical problem,
made more fascinating since drawings and paintings don't move.
So how does an artist create movement in what is essentially a
The key is to re-create the
physiological visual sense of movement by atmospheric spatial
depth. In other words, give the viewer a sense of zooming
The biggest challenge to creating
zoom in a drawing is that it is not an automatic translation
from three-dimensional reality to a two-dimensional page. The
artist has to conceptualize the spatial depths of the person or
thing, and really go overboard to accent spatial distance. For
instance, in the drawing below, her foot in the foreground and
hand behind her.
Newberry, Olivia, 2009, charcoal on paper,
9 x 11 inches
When I am drawing I tend to look
at the figure as a vast landscape, like a 20-mile valley in the
Swiss Alps. So what is an inch in real life I try to stretch out
to feel like a mile in the drawing. I find that doing this helps
the drawing from becoming flat and lifeless.
In the diagram above, I show that
the darker the mark on a white surface the closer that mark
appears to us. This illustrates atmospheric perspective; it
almost gives a sense that the lines are receding through a haze
Newberry, Hand, 2009, graphite on paper, 5
x 7 inches
In the five-minute drawing above, her hands were closest to
me and I opted to "pop" them forward by focusing on the dark
shadow around them. If I had chosen to accent her back right
foot instead, I would have flattened out the drawing like a
This answers one
of the most common queries I hear from students about seeing
dark areas in the back. They think that if they draw it as they
see it in real life, somehow the right forms will appear. Unfortunately, "popping" objects in the
background with dark marks will kill any hope of creating a form
Newberry, Melissa, 2009, black ink on
paper, 9 x 11 inches
is a 15-minute drawing in which there is a good sense of a sweep
of her volumes from her back right hand, around her shoulders
and breasts, to zoom along her forearm and thigh towards us.
With only 15 minutes I was focused on that one sweep.
With more time I would have given,
with an insanely delicate touch, more detail to her right back
hand. Then, with a strong marks, I would have detailed her right
I hope you enjoyed seeing how drawings can zoom.
Santa Monica, February 2010
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copyright 2012 by Michael Newberry