Started Josie Reclining
Charcoal on Stonehenge drawing paper
This will be a difficult drawing because the figure plane has very little value variation to give the eye interest. It is very subtle the transitions across the form. The contrast of the image and the expression on Josie’s face are what make this an interesting and beautiful picture to me. The challenge will be to communicate those well in a very small drawing with such light values – in charcoal.
This will be my first real charcoal figure drawing and I just have only a teensy clue as how to proceed from watching Matthew and Lisa. In the figure drawing room I have not even gotten to shadow shapes yet but I have watched them enough to try my hand at it at home.
The key to success will be SHARP SHARP charcoal, a light, light touch and going really slow. I would like to be done with this drawing in a month.
I have taken to sharpening whole boxes of charcoal at a time so when I work I have a ton of sharp charcoals and don’t have to worry about sharpening all the time. It is a relaxing activity sitting at my desk with my materials sharpening my charcoal slowly and one by one. Very meditative. I do my pencils at the same time.
Initial Block in
Here is my block in and my first crit. Aside from a few measurement adjustments the main gist of the crit was to apply broader comparisons across the form to relate shapes and not just compare and reference areas with things in close proximity. Work across the form.
Filling in the main plane
Here I filled in broad areas with a light marks in order to define the form even closer and understand negative shapes easier. This gets to my most challenging area… filling the space with marks. I am starting to understand how to fill in the spaces between the spaces. You fill in the spaces between those spaces. By spaces, they actually mean the valleys of the paper grain itself. THAT was an important revelation I made. Lift out where things get dark then fill in so it looks even. Do this until you get an even surface (I have not yet achieved that here or anywhere yet in charcoal). I am realizing why you must start soooo light. By the time you have filled in every hill and valley of the paper texture you have darkened stuff up quite a bit. If you start to dark that is a disadvantage.
Keying the drawing
I love this part – keying in the darks in order for me to be able to navigate the form better. Everything is in service to the form, to understanding the form better, revealing those small adjustments you need to make. I am totally winging it but for some reason getting those spots of dark dark in place makes me really happy. I keep telling myself to go slow. Go slow.
Filling in the background and darks.
The main thing that I have to say about session is this drawing and art in general is a process of discovering and then letting go of beauty over and over. I would even go so far as destroying beautf in order to reclaim it over and over. You get your work to a moment where it looks beautiful in youreyes, and you have to demolish it in order to build on it and take it to the next level. It looks beautiful again and then you have to undo it once again – each step building on the last.
Starting on the body.
I worked for about 2 hours last night. I feel like I made some real progress on understanding the application of charcoal. My impatience gets the best of me when making the directional marks of the charcoal but in little spaces I’m very good with the light touch. I’m amazed at the way the charcoal respond to almost a breath or a thought. It seems to read your mind. IN the area of the face I am able to control the charcoal very well and I can feel the sensitivity of what I am doing. It feels amazing. The rest of the body looks like a hairy gorilla. I may have ruined a good drawing.
Refining the form and the marks
I’m very anxious to bring the drawing to a state of completion but I can’t believe how much harder it is than I thought it would be. I have no idea if it looks like it is supposed to look. If the marks are correct. At this point I am just going with my own instinct and trying to elevate the work so it looks good. I guess that’s what really matters. I would like to do a very traditional classical figure but I’m just not set up to really immerse myself in learning that technique through and through right now. She doesn’t look like a gorilla anymore which makes me very happy. I am starting to work on the background and cloth now, and start shaping the hands.
I am not going to finish this by April 1 but I am happy that I am close. It will be close.