Janine Hall’s Peer Workshop on shadows


Janine, with broom as prop, gives us our instructions

This was Janine’s brief for the workshop:

Introduction: My field of interest is the shadow and the observation of light and shade across different objects and places. I’m interested in how shadow with light creates abstract patterns but also an atmosphere in a space.  I particularly like an atmosphere of quietness.

 Aim of the Workshop: I’m interested to see your approach to this subject and how this is translated into drawings by you. We all have a tendency to see the world in different ways.  How does your view affect the way you perceive the shadow and go on to draw it and lastly what atmosphere do the drawings create in a space?  In our case the Centre for Drawing.

Subject: Shadows

 What is the methodology you need the group to follow? Nick Manser will help to set up the lights to create different kinds of shadows….tall, short, sharp or soft. After an initial introduction, everyone to draw or trace a shadow.  This could be a silhouette of each other and we can work in pairs to do this.  Or if you have a particular object you would like to draw please bring that in with you.  On the Kentridge type silhouettes it would be good to add props to add drama to a silhouette… so you could bring in a hat for example, or an umbrella…wear baggy trousers..anything that will add character to your silhouette.  Perhaps we can borrow the odd broom etc. from Estates to add shape.

 The second drawing can be a trace of the first one. The second drawing is then folded and if we have time we will redraw the folded drawing to further abstract the original shadow drawing.

All final drawings to be pinned to the walls in the Centre of Drawing to be observed.  What atmosphere do they create in the room…if any?

Here are Nick Manser and Janine making dramatic shadows. The lighting in the Observatory was great for this workshop.

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Here are Yifei and Sarah; Ali, Yifei and Lara; and Nic working on their drawings.

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I worked with Caroline on a joint drawing. Left is her drawing of me, complete with comedy giant pen (a reference to my career as a pen-pusher – I was being A Shadow of My Former Self). There is a double drawing because we had two sources of light falling on our paper. In the middle is my drawing of Caroline, with foot on chair and chin resting on her fist. And on the right is our drawing with the silhouettes filled in; we tried to reflect the doubling and trebling of some of the sections of shadow, but looking at it now, we didn’t get that quite right.

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We each selected a part of our drawing to trace or copy, and then folded the traced drawing. I did mine on tissue paper. When I first folded it, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get more show through, so I redid the outlines in black marker. This did give a more dramatic effect. I think that if I had had time to do a more thorough job of shading the tracing, the outlines might not be needed. I like the combination of the randomness generated by the folding, within an overall coherence, which seems to be the result of using an actual image to begin with. There is therefore some relationship between the lines.


Overall, the workshop was well planned and fun to do, and I felt I got an insight into Janine’s way of working and its potential uses. I would like to redraw the folded drawing, to abstract it further.