Nahoko Kojima

Today I wrote a review of Nahoko Kojima’s work. She makes massive paper statues of animals. She makes them from a single sheet of paper and they take months to create. First she draws the shapes, then she cuts them out and then hangs them from the ceiling.

A massive paper whale
Nahoko Kojima with her life-size cutout of a blue whale.

See my exhibition review.

Ways to hold a pencil

I tried two ways of holding a pencil. The first way is the normal way, which is where you hold the pencil between your thumb, first finger and second finger. This is sometimes called the tripod grip. The second way is where you hold the pencil between your thumb and first finger with the pencil resting over your palm. This is sometimes called the claw grip. I tried drawing circles with these grips first on an easel then in my sketch book.

I think that the tripod grip is better for small drawings or intricate detail but the claw grip is better for bigger, more free movements.

Comparing pictures that have saturated colours and tints

I practised using saturated colours and tints on my tracings of my owl. I added more shapes to the owl so I could add more colours.

Two paintings of an owl, one has saturated colours the other has tints
The top picture has saturated colours the bottom colour has tints of the same colours.

I looked for bird pictures with saturated colours and bird pictures with tints or shades. Here are two examples

six finches in a tree
A picture of finches by John James Audubon. Here he uses saturated colours and tints which makes it more interesting.

How to trace

I wanted some copies of the owl picture to paint so I traced it. Here’s what I did:

  1. I got some tracing paper and a coloured pencil. It’s important to use a coloured pencil because it’s soft but doesn’t smudge.
  2. I traced aroung the owl with a coloured pencil.
  3. I turned the tracing paper over and drew aroung the owl outline with a 2H pencil. I used a 2H pencil because it is hard and it stays sharp.
Tracing round the owl with a coloured pencil.
Tracing round the owl with a coloured pencil
Drawing over the llines with a 2H pencil
Drawing over the lines with a 2H pencil

Tracing is useful because it means you can trace your drawing and experiment with painting it in different ways. Some artists do this.

Negative space

I did an exercise to look at negative space which is the space around the object. First I drew a square and then I put masking tape around the edges of the square. Then I filled the whole square with charcoal. I wanted to draw a cave painting of an owl so I got a rubber and marked the size of the owl in the charcoal. Then I rubbed out the charcoal to make the shape of the owl.

When I’d finished I took the masking tape off. This left clean edges to the square, but it also tore the paper. Next time I will use less sticky tape. Finally I sprayed the charcoal drawing with fixative, which is a chemical that stops the charcoal smudging.

I was quite pleased but I think it looks better from a distance.

Filling in a square with charcoal
Filling the square with charcoal
Rubbing out the charcoal
Rubbing out the charcoal
My drawing of the owl cave painting
My drawing of the owl cave painting

Colour terms

I learned the colour terms, such as hue, saturation, tint, shade and tone. I practised mixing these with the primary colours.

Swatches showing tints, shades and tones
Tints, shades and tones of the primary colours

Accurate drawing

Realistic bird illustrations like Audubon’s need to be accurate, so I tried to draw the owl accurately. Firstly, I estimated the height and width of the owl. Then I put marks with my pencil where the major features were. For example, I marked where the tail started, the height of the eyes and the size of the talons. This made it easier to draw the owl because I knew where the parts of it started and stopped.