Thursday, 25 November 2010

Back to the drawing board!

Drawing is still an essential part of art, although you would not think so from its declining importance in many art schools these days

Although I am self taught and therefore acquired what skills I have by trial and error, I would like to share with you some of the secrets of our trade

To begin with, choose your paper carefully. I prefer a hard, smooth surface rather than one that is too grainy. This enables me to create smear effects when using a rubber

I also prefer very soft pencils.  My favourite is a B9 or B10 which you may need to search for but most good art shops should stock them

This little drawing of a banana plant uses a mixture of soft and hard pencils to give the rich contrasts in shading of the original. I found this plant in a garden in Malaga and smuggled it back to the UK in my suitcase!

This drawing of an aged clown uses a very soft pencil.The large black areas are done with a dark graphite crayon and rubbed with my finger to give it a smooth, almost polished finish

Sometimes I turn a drawing into a collage. To the face above (drawn in pencil) I have added engraved plant forms on acetate. Under glass, the edges of the cut acetate almost disappear

Charcoal is a wonderfully rich medium. In this large drawing (above) of a Spanish cactus I have used the sharp edge of my rubber to incise the curved shapes

This large painting uses a number of techniques that I developed at my drawing board. Indeed, it began life as this small pencil sketch shown below

In the large painting, the horse is drawn using charcoal on board, then varnished. You can achieve useful effects with this technique, as in the musculature of the horses legs:

In the little drawing below I have used liquid graphite on paper and scraped with a sharp palette knife the shape of Titania's coat, revealing the white paper beneath

I have developed this technique further in this small drawing of a Creature of the Forest

This combines the scraping effect on the figure with the creation of the surrounding plant leaves by using a broader palette knife on liquid graphite. These are done with bold strokes, working very fast

This drawing of Dido and Aeneas is done using a soft pencil on very smooth paper. For the background I used a rubber, shaping the leaves with the sharp edge and then covering the area with lines, with a ruler.
The subtle textures on the rounded shapes of the figures are formed using smears with my finger

In the above drawing of Demeter I have used yet another technique. With a sharp, hard pencil I inscribe the lines of the woman's body them cross hatch it gently with a blunt, soft pencil. This fills in the gaps between lines whilst leaving the incised lines "white".

Demeter's wild hair is also done using this simple technique

This pen and ink drawing of the Phoenix is done largely with a palette knife on graphite, then filled in with Indian ink using a brush. The angular shapes of the birds are accentuated by this simple but time consuming method

This little drawing of Miranda (from Shakespeare's The Tempest) is interesting perhaps because I have drawn it on water-colour paper in pencil. The grain of the paper shows through, giving her image a slightly ghost-like appearance

Finally, a detailed drawing of a Mandrake. As Harry Potter fans will know all too well, mandrakes can be frisky little beasts. Mine, however, would probably bite your hand of if you came too close!

So, I hope these few tips have helped you with your drawing.

If so, then its time to "get back to the drawing board!"

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