1. Line – Seated Model in an Upright Chair
A1, dipping pen and Chinese black ink
I’ve been looking more carefully at the way other artists use line to suggest shapes rather than drawing outlines. In order to achieve a variable line I used a dipping pen and ink rather than a drawing pen, which I have only ever used for writing. I found it incredibly satisfying to be able to use the same tool to variously describe different fabrics and also hard surfaces and shadows.
My first attempts at the model’s slippers were too loose for the effect I was aiming for. I remembered previous feedback about the need to be more considered when applying pen to paper, and tried a more controlled approach which works much better.
I used a photograph of my Mum taken during a fun evening with friends, we were taking panoramic pictures of everyone and playing with the effects we could create by moving whilst the picture was being taken (multiple limbs, fractured faces etc) and Mum was trying to find the feature on her phone and laughing.
I liked the slight foreshortening of her legs and the chair, and the strange angles of the door and hallway behind her; by paring those background areas down to simple ‘cartoon-like’ lines, I thought I could put all of the viewer’s focus onto her and in turn follow her focus into the phone (it could mistakenly be seen as a comment on people’s obsessions with phones to the detriment of their experience of real life, but that isn’t the intention here). I think this worked well.
I didn’t manage to capture her laughter, a disadvantage of working in ink- you only get one chance! Lesson learned from this is to draw the most important thing first, not last.
I’m pleased with the portrayal of the different fabrics, especially the checked blouse, and I’m satisfied that I have created the impression of weight and volume of the figure. The shadows were interesting as there were several light sources around the room.
2. Tone – Reclining Model
A1, compressed charcoal
I enjoyed doing the tonal study of the standing figure with willow charcoal so wanted to do something similar on a larger scale. I bought some big blocks of tinted compressed charcoal and have been intending to use them for this piece all along. Again, unfortunately I don’t have access to a live model to hold a pose for long enough so I used an image from http://www.posespace.com which had a strong light source producing a full range of tones.
The finished piece captures volume. The sepia tones and absence of background, along with the pose, give a feeling of vulnerability. I’m pleased with the skin tones and the hair works well. The shadows under the torso are nowhere near deep enough.
3. Self Portrait
I used a photograph of myself in bright sunlight for this piece. I chose the green paper so that I could use it to augment shadows and leave it untouched for the eyes (I have green eyes that are quite vivid in bright light when my pupils contract).
It is a fairly good likeness of me, but as I worked on it, somehow the eyes became slightly too far apart. I almost wish I had stopped after this first image, which I like far better than the (overworked) finished portrait. Putting the darker tones in diminishes the contribution of the green ground and takes some of the life away…. I’m quite disappointed with it.