Trained as a painter, Richard Moninski received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master of Fine Arts from the University at Albany, State University of New York. He completed additional study in surface design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Moninski is strongly influenced by historic textiles and other decorative arts traditions. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited nationally. Awards include a grant from the American-Scandinavian Foundation for research in Norway, and artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. He currently resides in Wisconsin, where he is Distinguished Lecturer of Art in the Department of Performing and Visual Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Stuck at home with limited art supplies? Surely you have a ball point pen. This handy implement was invented in 1888 (or 1931, or 1938, or 1945 – the history is murky at best) and does have the property of being convenient and inexpensive. Though not always thought of as being an art-making tool, it’s often used as a component in mixed media/collage pieces. Some wonderful pieces made by “outsider” artists are entirely ball point. So, in your enforced down time, why not just grab a sheet of paper and a ball point pen from your office area, a couple food items from the pantry, and find a comfortable place to sit at a table? Shake Rag Alley instructor, Richard Moninski, walked us through the basics of drawing using this everyday medium.
First, to prove that you can get a full value scale – from very light to very dark – Richard roughed out nine 1” square boxes. You see him start to draw lines all going in about the same direction with a very light touch. Next, on top of drawing the light lines in the next box, he draws with more pressure. On top of those, in the following boxes, he’s adding lines going in the opposite direction – then in addition to the light and more pressure lines, he’s adding diagonal lines in first one and then the other direction. Finally, it looks like he’s scribbling over the top of all those lines! It works! Very light to very dark!
Now to set up the objects you’ll be drawing. Richard kept to the healthy fruit and vegetable food group of rounded objects. Note that there is a single light source – he was sitting in a room with the lights off and plenty of natural light coming in through a window, but the objects are not actually being struck by the light source. Getting this nicely diffused light will be helpful to you, too. Take your time with the set-up. Make a simple arrangement that you like. Look to see that you have highlights and shadows.
Richard suggests starting your drawing by very lightly getting the outlines of your objects established. Here’s where you can make changes without a lot of extra work, so look carefully and draw lightly until you’re satisfied with the outlines being reasonably accurate. As you know, ball point is super hard to erase, so that light touch is important!
Now that Richard is developing the drawing, he’s thinking about the shapes of the lightest areas and the darkest areas. Reserving the light spaces by consciously NOT drawing in those areas, and at the same time, developing the dark shapes (hey! You’re using what you demonstrated in your value scale exercise!) – this will start to make the objects feel rounded. Note that the shadows on the table surface are also being identified.
As the drawing moves forward, the ideas of contour and plane area being applied to create a sense of roundness. Richard is thinking about the surface of these three-dimensional objects – what direction is being revealed? Use that information to guide the arcs of the lines you are drawing. They carry a lot of information about the shape you are describing with your pen.
In about an hour, nearing the conclusion of this drawing, Richard is hastily adding to the shadows to make them super-dark when directly under the objects. You can see him scribbling in both the direction of the shadow and the shape of the object casting the shadow.
Ball point can be mundane – like signing your utility checks – or fun – like making a drawing that helps you understand how to render believable forms in space.
Richard says: “We’ll work on using these principles with a variety of other media in my Introduction to Drawing workshop. Once this virus situation is resolved and Shake Rag Alley can reschedule this class, we’ll be putting out the call for registrations. If you’d like, just phone the office at 608-987-3292 and ask to be put on the notification list. Like I said in the class description, this workshop will have a low fear factor and a high fun factor!”