Craft snippets: Drawing with Monique Tichborne

Sally reports back from Craft snippets at Upper Riccarton Library which featured guest crafter, artist, Monique Tichborne. The next Craft snippets event is on Wednesday 31 January 2024 with soap maker, Leisa Falconer.

Distraction from pain, and upside down drawing

It was wonderful to listen to self-taught artist Monique Tichborne. Monique talked about her path to drawing that started four years ago when she had chronic pain and found drawing a distraction to get through the day.

An interesting part of Monique’s technique is that she draws with her canvas turned up the other way – upside down. Monique says for her it ‘worked’. It means you draw what you see and don’t focus so much on the features. Monique suggests you try it if you are ever struggling with a drawing.

Get to know your pencil

Monique spoke about the tools she uses and the importance of them. For one, the pencil. Monique talked about learning how your pencil works. Draw a base line and get a feel for it. The letters on pencils mean different things. H pencils draw hard, the higher with number the harder it is. Softer pencils like B pencils have more graphite. Monique also likes the draw with an F pencil, it has a sharpness but isn’t as hard as an H pencil.

Shading tools are also important. You can use your fingers but that will transfer oil from your hands to your picture. "Stubs" are rolled up paper and help to make lines soft. "Fubbers" are kneadable rubbers. These are good because you can make them small and pull bits off them. This means you can remove little bits of the pencil from the drawing. The use of rubbers creates light in your pictures. For example, when drawing hair or feathers, and water effects. A tiny rectangle rubber is useful for creating effects, for example the dots in eyes.

The paper Monique uses is quite heavy. Some people prefer water colour paper that has a texture. Again, Monique suggests you experiment with different types of paper to see what you like.

Gordon Harris shop is a great place to get what you need, also Paper Tree which has great specials.

Monique has also tried dabbling in colour recently using water colour pencils. The pencil has a nice crayon effect. You use it like a normal pencil but add water to it. The more water you use, the lighter the colour will be. The water on the pencil makes the colours pop. Monique plans to do a picture with the person in colour and the scenery in graphite.

Process and technique

Monique’s process is to take a photo first, she then turns it around upside down on phone, and begins to draw. Most portrait work takes around 20-30 hours over a couple weeks. Monique says she starts slow with the outline and when she gets into the shading the picture progresses faster.

Monique suggests you firstly look at the picture and think about where you want to start. With faces, work on eyes first. They will depict the whole picture. Eyes are a key part of the picture and if slightly out the whole picture won’t look right. Monique doesn’t use grid lines. Some people do but she thinks you can focus on them too much.

Upside down drawing uses the other side of the brain. Monique recommends you give it a go, drawing what you see, slowly building up the picture.

Learning and teaching

Monique is part of the Rangiora Art Society who have a Tuesday morning group anyone can go along to. You can pop in and out and don’t have to be there the whole time, or every week. Monique leaves feeling inspired. The group also holds exhibitions.

This year Monique has started drawing classes. She loves drawing and wants to share her passion. Being able to help someone with shading, rubbing out, different pencils, how to get light and dark and so on.

The more you do anything to do with art the better your skill gets. It is a time thing, and your skills will develop with time. Keep at it and keep going. It might seem boring at times, but just do a small amount each day. A couple of suggestions from Monique of how to get started.

Draw a flower without taking your pencil off the paper.

Monique followed a fellow artist who was doing a “100 day” challenge. Monique didn’t think she would be able to do 100 days of drawing, because she wouldn’t be able to sit for two hours due to fatigue and chronic pain. But movement also helps the pain, a catch-22 situation. Rather than do a drawing every day for 100 days, Monique chose to draw every day for 100 days. That worked for her.

Latest craft titles

We also had a chat about the wonderful books and magazines at the library available on drawing. Here is the list put together by Angela:

Craft Snippets November 2023

Books from our November gathering.

View Full List

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