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Drawing workshop: Elements of a composition

Learn the skills of compositional drawing through presentations and exercises
Date
Various dates
  • Saturday, 16 November 2019
  • Saturday, 30 November 2019
Time
11 am - 4 pm

About

What do we mean when we say the 'elements of composition'? This is the arrangement of visual elements or 'ingredients' in a work of art, which give structure to paintings and convey the intent of the artist. The best paintings strike the perfect composition of balance, movement, patterns and rhythm in order to tell their story. 

Led by artist John Close, this two-session drawing workshop includes presentations and discussions about some of our paintings, sketching exercises and time spent drawing in the Gallery.

Explore how artists such as Titian and Poussin portray religious and mythological scenes, and how techniques such as the 'cartoon' and 'modello' are used as preparatory studies for more elaborate compositions. We will also explore and recreate some of our most expansive paintings filled with crowds or multiple characters.

We encourage you to visit the galleries in the time between sessions to explore the composition of paintings on your own. Beginners are welcome and all materials are provided (lunch excluded).

Image: Detail from John Close, sketch after Guercino, 'The Incredulity of St Thomas', 1621

Week 1

Saturday, 16 November 2019
Time
11 am - 4 pm

An introductory presentation provides contextual imagery of successful compositions and their elements. How do artists such as Titian and Poussin arrange figures and objects to tell religious stories or myths? And how do paintings such as Tavern Scene by Adrien Brouwer or The Four Elements series by Joachim Beuckelaer, portray crowded everyday scenes teeming with life.

Practical activities include working with graphite and pencil to break down complicated scenes into shapes, spaces and associations. Learn a variety of mark-making techniques using different levels of pressure and speed to create compositions moving through 'soft to sharp' detail, similar to painting.

Image: Detail from Joachim Beuckelaer, 'The Four Elements: Fire', 1570

Week 2

Saturday, 30 November 2019
Time
11 am - 4 pm

This session explores how artists practically composed large and crowded compositions using techniques such as the 'cartoon' and 'modello' as preparatory work. We will also look at the busy scenes of Impressionist paintings, the drawings of David Bomberg and even the 'tableau vivant' images of contemporary artists and photographers such as Jeff Wall.

Practical activities include drawing in the Gallery to make quick graphite sketches on paper, before overlaying tracing paper to add colour and texture to scenes. We will use felt tip pens to learn bleeding and blending techniques, building layers to create 'painterly' effects.

Image: Detail from Edouard Manet, 'The Execution of Maximilian', about 1867-8

John Close

John Close is an artist whose interest lies mainly in the human figure. He has worked extensively with performers from backgrounds in dance, theatre and mime, practising anatomy and life drawing. He is artist-in-residence with Cubitt Education and St. Luke's Trust and has taught classes at The National Gallery, The Royal Academy and The Zabludowicz Collection.

Creative sessions

Drawing workshop: Elements of a composition

Learn the skills of compositional drawing through presentations and exercises
Date
Various dates
  • Saturday, 16 November 2019
  • Saturday, 30 November 2019
Time
11 am - 4 pm

Tickets

Standard: £130
Concessions: £110