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Posts Tagged ‘charcoal’

Typically when you set out to draw something, you draw with a relatively short utensil, using your dominant hand. This is how everyone learns to draw, and it is what is most comfortable. But for these drawings we weren’t supposed to be comfortable. No, we were supposed to struggle and loosen up and flounder about our drawings.

Have you ever drawn with a three foot long stick before?? Tape a big piece of charcoal to the end of a long stick, and this is what the drawings look like.

I actually had a really fun time making these drawings. It was something totally different and it was refreshing to try. First, I drew a rough sketch of the figure with my long stick, and then, with my hand, I blurred out that whole drawing, and then drew over it to refine the drawing. It is very very difficult to control a piece of charcoal three feet away from you. My stick was also curved so I had to compensate for that as well. But drawing the figure twice allowed room for error in the first drawing, and refinement in the second layer of charcoal. Being literally out of control while making a drawing changed my whole approach. Typically, I like to do a perfect sketch, then budget my time rendering each section of the body until class is over, but when drawing with a stick, there was no way that I was going to get the clean, precise lines that I typically strive for. So, I didn’t even try to make my drawings perfect. I allowed myself to be much more gestural and fluid than  normal, and I had a good time doing it. After the charcoal was all done, I went back in which some white charcoal pencil (not on a stick) to bring out some of the high lights. The paper I was using was a cardboard-brown, and so the white stood out nicely.

Then we were asked to do a drawing with our non-dominant hand. We didn’t have to use a stick this time, but if you are not ambidextrous and have ever tried to write with your wrong hand, you know how difficult it is to control the pencil. Though I am partially ambidextrous, I do not practice with my right hand and so it was still very difficult to get the marks where I wanted them. I focused on the line quality of the piece, and decided not to get into extensive rendering because I had to work so slow to control my shaking hand. Just like the stick drawings, being out of control gives the drawing character and energy.

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Here is another batch of figure drawings from this semesters figure drawing class. The first few drawings in this lengthy post are done in pencil. I hadn’t used much pencil in this class before the midterm, and so I wanted to make sure that I got enough practice with pencil in before the semester ended. Drawing and rendering a full figure in two hours in pencil can be very difficult because pencil is such a light, hard medium. Tones have to be built up slowly by hatching, and it is difficult to make changes to a pencil drawing quickly, especially when drawing with a hard pencil.

In order to save time when working in pencil, I like to build up tones in scribbles that follow the contour  of the figure. This is faster than hatching or using the side of the pencil, but it still creates a pleasing texture.

For one drawing the class got to work from the same pose for two classes, which allowed much more time to build up the drawing. I decided to use pencil for this two day drawing because I do not typically get the chance to fully and delicately render the figure in pencil because it takes so much time.

Below is that two-class pencil drawing. We were also encouraged to add in an invented background, which is something that we didn’t get the chance to do very often because of time constraints.

These next two drawings were done in charcoal. I really like the way that these two drawings came out. Unlike with pencil, charcoal is quick to build up and because it is only loosely adhered to the page, changes are easily made. However, these drawings were made with two different kinds of charcoal, which do behave differently. The one on the left was made with vine charcoal, which is a super soft, fine, light, ghostly medium. The picture on the right was made with hard charcoal sticks and charcoal pencil, which can still be manipulated, but much less so than vine charcoal. Charcoal pencil is darker than vine charcoal and lends itself to a more linear drawing.


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Warning: This post contains drawings of nude figure models for academic purposes.

More figure drawing. One of them is more vine charcoal on warm gray paper, and the other is conte pencil on cool gray paper. The thing I like best about the latter, is that we drew the same figure, in the same pose, from three different angles on one page. This was fantastic! We had about 40 minutes to work on each figure. Yet even with much less time, I feel like these figures came out just as good as my other ones. Perhaps because having less time to work in, forces me to draw more loosely and with more energy and purpose. I really enjoyed using the white conte on the grey paper as well to bring out the lights and let the paper be a middle value. I think that my figures are starting to get more volume to them and though class is exhausting at times, I am excited to continue and see how my figures develop.

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Portrait in Charcoal

This is pretty straight forward. This charcoal drawing was done in figure drawing class, from a live model, in about 2 hours.We worked on gray paper so that we could bring out the highlights with a white charcoal pencil. I worked up the drawing with vine charcoal first, and then went in with a charcoal pencil to add in the details. The picture is just one of the new additions to the drawing gallery.

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Warning–this post contains pencil sketches of nude figures for education purposes.

After five sessions, my Illustration class has concluded its unit on drawing directly from the figure. Prior to drawing from a model, we learned from a model skeleton about the correct proportions of the human body. We were given bony points to look for in a live model such as the knees, elbows, top of the hips, and the shoulders, to help us mark correctly proportioned limbs. Below are examples of my figure drawing work, along with a little about the drawing process.

The majority of our sessions were divided into 20 minute segments where we would draw 5 two-minute poses. Essentially, I would use the first 30 seconds of the pose to lightly mark the location of the head and the head, the joints, and the spine, connecting them all together with sketchy lines that suggest the figure, and then use the remaining minute and 30 seconds to draw in the contours of the body. Obviously there was no time to be super exact with any of my lines or measurements. Hands were bent rectangles, and the face if there was any suggestion of a face, would be a box or circle with a line marking the nose. Often times I was not even able to delineate the full gesture, and some of my figures go without feet or hands. This is not a problem though, as all of the drawings are meant to stay rough and are done for the practice.

We did very few long drawings, 5 minutes at most near the end of class. Some of our drawings were even shorter than 2 minutes, done in 60 seconds. There was also an exorcise where we were asked to look at the model in a pose for 10 seconds. And then, from memory, draw that pose in 2 minutes. It was crucial to look at the angle of the shoulders and hips, and especially the angle and distance between the ankles. The most extreme test of our memories and our understanding of human proportions was the described poses. After drawing a model all day, and familiarizing ourselves with her (in this case) particular proportions, the model would leave the room, and our professor described a pose to us. We were than asked to draw our current model in that pose. It was surprisingly not that difficult, and I found that I drew much faster from my memory than I did constantly checking the model to make sure my curves were correct. That exorcise was definitely my favorite.

Early on in the unit, I was having trouble connecting my forms to one another, and I was drawing pieces of the models next to each other, and not really drawing them as all jointed together. My outlines were disconnected. And as always, no matter how many times the professor pointed it out to me and no matter how hard I was trying to see what he meant and thought I saw what he meant, it didn’t click until I figured it out for myself. And then all of a sudden, as with many things in art, a lightbulb goes on and I realize, “oh that’s what you meant! This is what it should look like.” Even seeing the more correct way drawn in front of me I couldn’t replicate it until this clicked! My second obstacle was realizing that it was easier if I drew lightly the whole 2 minutes. Again, the professor had said, draw lightly. And I did for the first 30 seconds when I mapping out the figure, but then I would begin to fill in my more detailed contours using a dark, heavy line. And then I would run into trouble finishing because this heavy line would slow me down. I would still draw very accurate figures, and figures that I liked, but I would be rushing. During the last week of the unit, it came to me that I should draw even the details lightly over my map. That way, I would not have to go over areas of my initial drawing that I wanted to keep to make them darker. I could just leave them because I drew them correctly the first time. And now I didn’t have to waist time drawing them again in the same exact way. This made it easier for me to finish more of the figure in the allotted time.

They say you can never do too much figure drawing, and that may be true, but I am satisfied with the amount of figure drawing I’ve done in the past two weeks and am ready for a break. Next year I will be taking a class where will be doing nothing but drawing from the figure, not just a unit on it. Hopefully there will be enough variety in the exorcises next year that I won’t get too tired of it. It’s the repetition of figure drawing that is tiresome for me. drawing 60 pictures of the same person, going through the same process, and making them just about the same size each time can get boring.

One thing that I never get tired of in figure drawing is the immediacy of it. Two minutes and you move on, your piece is done, like it or not, and there is another chance to make a new and better pose, always. The end result comes so quickly which is very enjoyable for an impatient artist like me. I need things to be finished quickly; I don’t like to mess around building things up slowly. I’m all for experimentation, but when I’m not experimenting, I generally know what I want and want to put it there now.

It may sound paradoxical that I enjoy the immediacy but dislike the repetition. I know that the quicker I finish a drawing, the faster I move onto another one–encouraging the repetition. But it’s the only way I can describe it.

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