Drawing Class. Session 1. Homework – Still life #4.

October 24, 2011

This is the fourth sketch I’ve done following on from last week’s exercise in drawing class – still life/furniture using the willow charcoal stick/pencil as a measuring device for establishing proportion and alignment. It’s a larger version of the same pot stand done a few day previously.

I’ve not touched willow charcoal since last week’s class, choosing instead to re-boost my confidence by working inside my comfort zone of pencil – here entirely in 2B. It will be interesting to see how quickly we move away from willow charcoal in the forthcoming classes, if we move away. I was very impressed at some of the other students’ work last week – entirely different approachs to mine. Given we weren’t shown any examples of the teacher of her own work in the medium, I found the work of my colleagues’ quite instructive. For some strange reason, in all the drawing classes I’ve ever attended, no teacher has ever put up an example of his or her own work in the medium: it’s seems always to be an introductory medium, on the way to something else.

Willow charcoal defies contour and invariably my willow charcoal work is a patchwork of tones and marks approximating lines to define edges: a pretty poor show. There is the slightest whiff of disingenuousness associated with charcoal: you look closely at works done in charcoal and the fine work turns out to be as the result of charcoal pencils with sharp points. Even the charcoal-looking work in Bert Dodson’s Keys to Drawings by Kathe Kollwitz (great examples of her work this week on television in the series Art of Germany!) turns out to be a lithograph. To copy or emulate the work in charcoal, only compressed charcoal could produce the effects – again, one step removed from willow charcoal. Here endeth my whinge about willow charcoal.

Re-viewed a day later, I can see that my perspective is out, but that’s okay because I feel I’m making progress. I wasn’t confident about my perpsective at the time of drawing. I know if I was, I would have started using lots of darker pencils and done more work on developing tonal range. That might come later. While I might want to do seven drawings between classes, one a day, Life intervenes and so I can only manage one every two days.

Bert Dodson (pages 58, 60 and especially 62) draws students’ attention to contrasting marks in drawings: between “control handwriting” (focussed detail, accuracy based on fine motor skills) and “free handwriting” (relaxed line, perhaps with corrections or ‘restatements’). The contrast is present in mine: the control of the wooden stand, versus the freedom of the background boxes and electrical cords which also provide a context for the pot stand.

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