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Simple Inspiration, Shaded Challenges

Chiaroscuro applied to monochromatic hookings

By: Carol Koerner
Updated August 28, 2018

Two insignificant little white vases sitting on my dining room windowsill were the start of this project. In 2008, I was setting up and snapping photos of a brightly colored still life for a new hooking. I absolutely love hooking in bright, vibrant colors, but as I finished that photo shoot, I noticed the two little vases sitting there. On a whim, I grabbed them, added an egg so there would be an uneven number of objects in the still-life grouping, and took a few photos. Well, I just loved that happenstance photo with its soft contrasts of light and dark; I saved it in a special folder on my computer on the off chance I would use it later.

That photo haunted me until recently, when I finally put the design on a linen backing with the intention of hooking it later. It reminded me of the very first lesson of the first formal drawing class that I took back in 1975.

The first thing our instructor asked us to do was draw a row of six 1" x 1" boxes and shade them in with a pencil. The first box was to be left white and the last box was to be as black as we could get it with our pencils. We were then to fill in the four in-between boxes with graduated shades of gray. Our instructor used the term chiaroscuro. We were to use these shades in our drawings, modeling shapes from simple objects to the live models that came in to pose for us, all the while keeping in mind the need for contrast.

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