The aha moment

It’s always a pleasure to see a student in one of my workshops have an “aha” moment when something really clicks. It happened today at a two-day workshop (the last one of the summer) that I am giving to a group of artists from around the Lachute area.

In classes I always try to get students to create a value plan — basically a schematic drawing of where the lights, mid-tones and darks go. I do this by getting them to do a small pencil drawing  in three tones. But one student was having a difficult time with this. She couldn’t get away from doing a line drawing. Her aha moment was when I handed her big fat grayscale markers. With these it is impossible to work in line — you must work only in large tonal shapes. As soon as I showed her what I wanted in markers I could see something click. And  I had my aha moment when I realized I had been teaching this wrong! Of course it’s much easier to visualize flat masses when you are working in tone rather than line.  And the fact that I am constantly learning from students is the best part about teaching.



We painted in the beautiful village of St. André d’Argenteuil, surrounded by historical houses, on the bank of a river. What a great way to end this summer’s round of workshops.


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14 Comments on “The aha moment”

  1. Angie Macleod says:

    Looks like a great day of sketching!

  2. Shari, can you explain what a grayscale marker is? I think I know but I want to be sure because I want to try this 🙂

  3. Joanna says:

    I’m not sure what a grayscale marker is either but sounds like it worked!xx

  4. jane pilon says:

    great day of painting …..
    looking forward to today

  5. Carola says:

    I love your sketch!, and I don’t see any detail, just spots of color… I will try that today, sooo nice!! thank you Shari

  6. Veronica S. says:

    Thanks for sharing the aha moments! I will add some large grey markers to my toolbox for teaching. I too have had a hard time getting students to create value studies without line. However I have had some success with Tombow black pens that are water-soluble and create washes when you pull the ink away from a line with a moist brush. I agree that avoiding line is best, though!! Love all of your posts and learn a lot from them. Thanks for being so generous!!

  7. marctaro says:

    Looks like a great location! I’ll have go have a look 🙂

  8. Ashley says:

    I like the aha moment because I am just like that and I need to loosen up. What kind of marker did you give her to draw with? I am trying to use a bigger brush!

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