Tonight I demonstrated that, at least for me, painting with charcoal is much better than drawing with charcoal. Also, I figured out that I really hate Strathmore charcoal paper.
Chris is one of the artists who studies in my figure classes, and he’s been documenting his development, drawing every day. This describes something of a breakthrough moment. The method may be realism, but the ultimate subject is more elusive.Jamie BollenbachJamie Bollenbach
I spent over 2 hours on this drawing, I was struggling with it most of the time and the end result was very disappointing. While drawing I was focusing on line and working hard to get all the shapes accurate. I enjoy some of the areas and how they are treated with cross hatching, but the inaccuracy of the drawing vastly overshadows any superb line work. I feel as though I could just erase everything but the eyes and I would have a better drawing, everything else seems to be a hurried mess of distraction. Maybe I needed to just slow down?
A note on Strathmore 400 Charcoal paper. I would have linked the paper to Artists and Craftsman supply, but they didn’t have it on the website, even though I purchased it from their store. I really dislike this paper and I’m most likely going to give the pad away to someone. For the entire drawing I was fighting the texture. I don’t mind texture, but when its perfectly horizontal machine made lines it looks terrible. I much prefer any laid paper like Arches watercolor, or Stonehenge, or Fabriano I would even prefer the very flat Strathmore Artagain over this.
Speaking of substrate texture, I was talking with an artist that has a studio at Gage Academy while looking at his wall of paintings in his studio. And he made a comment on how he loved the linen canvas he was currently working on and despised the cheap machine made canvas panels. He showed me a painting on his wall next to the other and pointed out the uniformity of the texture of the canvas and how it really deadened the painting and I agreed. The machine made texture really flattened the painting, it was like viewing the work from beneath speckled glass.
My purpose for tonights drawings was to explore drawing with a focus on form, specifically I wanted to see how simplistic I could make the drawing yet still capture a likeness. Unfortunately I spent too much time on the line drawing when its only purpose was to establish a base for likeness. I had stopped after the first drawing but after reading comments on my work from Facebook I was inspired to block out some simple shapes of my face.
This is less than 10 minutes into the drawing. I really tried to hit the basic shadow shapes as accurately as I could, and I’m astounded that with just so few marks I could capture this much of my portrait likeness so quickly.
Here I just pulled out a bristle brush and focused on edges for a few minutes.
This is the drawing after 30 minutes of moving breaking down shadow shapes into smaller areas, erasing for lighter values and adding in darker areas.
I can’t think of any better way to establish a subject as quickly and easy. I call this stage the “punched in the face” stage, because most of the shapes are just a bit off and need to be adjusted to increase accuracy. I will also begin breaking down each shadow shape into smaller and smaller shapes to increase detail.
The more I do these drawings with a focus on form and simple shapes, the more I have come to realize that I have to move slowly and very carefully place these shapes accurately, there is no room for being sloppy here.
Oh, and I did this drawing on cheap newsprint, which I enjoyed much better than the line Strathmore paper.