Strathmore 2013 online workshop – Week 4 (2)

June 1, 2013

female nude 4 female head

Strathmore Toned Paper, 9×12″. Left, Toned Gray and Right, Toned Tan (thanks to the mysterious Samsung scanner!)

I’m still finding the reference photos of this particular part of the workshop problematic and I notice that my student colleagues aren’t uploading their efforts to the workshop gallery.

I can tell I’m on a learning curve because I’m both intrigued and horrified at the same time – like watching a car crash. Intrigued, I’m persisting with a drawing from the workshop photos every morning; horrified also when my observational abilities seem to let me down. I tore up my previous drawings of this model and regained some self-confidence in going back to basics via a portrait and a back view. I’ll return at a later date to the three frontal poses, but will probably draw the foundations more slowly and deliberately. I’ve established a bad habit I think of drawing at my own regular pace and working at my own regular speed (a consequence of prolonged practice), instead of slowing down when I need to. I’ve picked this up from my watercolor teacher: not all brush marks are made at the same pace, or with the same attack ‘speed’. Some are slow and deliberate (e.g. hard edges) while others are quicker, at “normal” speed (lost or soft edges).

This back view was done for the most part in a very hard H pencil and I picked up a 4B towards the end to define the form at left. The H seems to be okay for Cefalo’s one-direction whispy line build-up. A woman with no arms? I’m sure there’s a technique for ‘implying’ arms, but I’m focused more on the pencil technique and getting basic proportions to investigate that particular problem. e.g. by looking around for similar poses in the work of others.

In the portrait, I’ve resolved a little better the appearance of the ear coming out of the neck muscles, but I’ve yet to capture a real likeness of this particular face. There is merit in copying the face and pose by turning the original photo upside down, which does more for one’s self-confidence than actually moving on one’s observational powers. But that’s okay( from time to time)!

What’s important for me at the moment is that I’m coming across good subject matter for toned paper wherever I go at the moment. I find myself looking at the light falling on characters’ faces in tv dramas (instead of following the plot) and I’m coming across photographs which would translate well to toned paper. Even examples of Gothic gargoyles carved out of sandstone seem ready-made for Toned Tan paper.

With this in mind and in anticipation of a sketchcrawl around Sydney University, I copied a photo of a marble sculpture – a signpost in Oxford Street, London. Okay, I need more practice with Corithinian capitals and his face slips badly to the left (a case of more attention to foundational structure), but it is really all about translating the tonal values and working out which tonal values in the original match the toned paper. The beauty of this was that it was at least in black and white; the color of flesh and hair has been distracting with the Strathmore workshop photos.

oxford street sculpture

At least moving two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back one is still moving forward.

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