DRAWING WITH SHADOWS

A Text-based Workshop Led by Sean Tseng

In this workshop, I would like to invite you to explore notions of space from our common, everyday sceneries by finding shadows in your daily surroundings.

 

Shadows are everywhere depending upon the shining sun. They are on the streets, under trees, next to a cup on the desk, …… However, shadows can be hard to notice because they don’t possess rigid figures. This workshop, therefore, will start from observing shadows in our daily life by taking some pictures of them in the surroundings. Together, we will be collecting photographs, rediscovering daily scenes, making drawings inspired by shadows to experiment with different ways of seeing, sensing and exploring our everyday space.

To participate in this workshop, you will need the following materials:
1. mobile phone or camera

2. papers

3. drawing materials of your preference i.e. charcoals, crayons, acrylic paints, etc.

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Step 1 

Let’s take a walk on a sunny day.

 

Try walking slowly, enjoy the gentle breeze touching your face. Look for shadows in your surroundings. Use your phone or camera to take photographs of shadows that intrigue you. You may take as many as you wish, as long as you find the process of discovering the interactions of light and shadows interesting and relaxing.

Now with a bunch of shadows’ photographs at hand, it’s time to review what you have seen and documented.

 

In the first glance, you may find those images ordinary. However, let’s examine them closely. What colours are the shadows? What are their figures? Through observing shadows, you will notice layers of object shapes are compressed on a single surface, mostly on a ground or a wall, making themselves exist as a lively but opaque painting in everyday life.

 

Drawing attention to this unique space where light and shadows encounter, interweave and continually changing as our experience is an alternative way to appreciate shadows from their diverse hues and shapes.

Step 2 

Step 3

Choose one of the photographs you would like to investigate further and prepare two pieces of paper and your drawing materials. Look at the image again and try to illustrate the shadows in the photograph on a paper with your selected drawing materials.

 

Be bold, be messy.

Similar to the previous step, this time we are going to draw the parts where shadows are absent within the image you chose on the other paper. In short, you will have two drawings, one highlighting the shadows and the other illustrating the area where shadows do not occupy.

Step 4

Photograph

Photograph

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Drawing with shadows

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Drawing with space without shadows

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Now let's think about what these shadows mean to you?

Are they Physical, visible sensible, political and/or historical?

Let’s put all three images together — the photo, the drawing with shadows and the other remaining one. Could you try to scrutinize them and describe what the relationship between those images is and how you perceive their forms in each image? Think about what you felt while making two drawings and try looking at them from aspects of colour, shape and space.

Here are a few things we can consider. As you may already notice that it is nearly impossible to draw the figure of shadows precisely, looking at shadows and defining their space is about dealing with the seen and the unseen that constantly interact with the surrounding space. We are playing with the spatial ambiguities about shadows.

 

Your papers present plenty of possibilities to demonstrate space. Have you thought about the drawing materials you just drew with? Let’s consider your drawings to be objects and try to make them ‘three dimensional’.

 

Let’s be playful this time. Feel free to grab some papers and fold them with glue, or take some clay or plaster and make our drawings jump out of from the plain.

Light and Shadow

’Shadows is of the nature of darkness; reflected light (lime) is of the nature of the light source (luce); one conceals and the other reveals. They are always associated and inseparable from all objects. But the shadow is a more powerful agent than light, for it can impede and entirely deprive bodies their light, while light can never entirely expel shadow from a body, that is, from an opaque body’

 ——Leonardo Da Vinci

Through looking around our surroundings, finding swinging shadows, documenting and exploring drawing as one of the methods to visualize space, how do you find the experience? Have you experienced a different way of seeing?

Through looking around our surroundings, finding swinging shadows, documenting and exploring drawing as one of the methods to visualize space, how do you find the experience? Have you experienced a different way of seeing?


There are a few thoughts that can help you examine shadows and their space further:

The shadows, which indicate the whole appearance of the objects, are usually more subtle and softened compared to their caster. They are floating, shifting and constantly changing from time to time. The relation between the objects and shadows creates a tension between the glazed and unglazed, the tangible and intangible, as well as the seen and unseen. An object is situated in a physical space, where we can touch it, see it and feel it physically. On the contrary, the shadows are often interacting with space, no matter what the surroundings are, as long as there is a beam of light, shadows will be cast from it. In this sense, shadows are glimmering in their own depths, being vivid gently and silently, and form a unique negative space, an area that is against the space where physical objects are located.

 

Therefore, shadows, an obscure entity, imply an ambiguous space that connects the visual with perceptual experience, the shimmering spark among the common. Perhaps, the invisibility, one of the characteristics of negative space, is where feelings of shadows are born. It is an open window to articulate the visceral experience of encountering. To put it in another way, it is the negative volume which embodies the entire space, making the whole complete and shifting the positions in regard to their surroundings.

 

The freedom between rigidity and liquidity of space outlines the qualities of shadows. When working on photographs and drawings in this workshop, we may find our own ways of discovering and interacting with shadows and their relative space. From the space that shadows occupy, we can ascertain that space lingers between the material and immaterial, spatial and organic, solid and flowing. It is a diminutive existence that encloses the infinite universe.

Sean Tseng works with sculpture and photography and is interested in exploring notions of rhythm from both industrialised materials and natural elements. He is currently researching the dynamics and beauty of attraction between different forms in nature where subtleties lurk and encounters await.

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Email: dear.transparent@gmail.com​