|9/21/18 Shannon (2.5-hour pose)|
So far, I’ve been using the graphite technique I learned from Eduardo Bajzek mainly for buildings and street scenes. Wanting to try other types of subjects with the method, I decided to go to a long-pose life drawing session at Gage last week. Normally I prefer short poses because I want to practice fast gestures that will help me most when I’m sketching people in the real world, but this graphite technique takes a long period. While short-pose sessions are a series of one-minute to 20-minute poses, the long-pose session is the same pose for the entire three hours. Allowing for model breaks, the actual drawing time is about two-and-a-half hours.
Let me just say that using this reductive technique with a building is easier than with a human form! The technique is especially conducive to street scenes because the negative space around the straight sides of buildings or rooflines is easy to erase out. After I toned the paper, I realized I hardly had anything to erase out – just some parts of the model’s face and torso and a few highlights. But since one of the key benefits of graphite is the beautiful graduated tonal shading it can impart, I kept going.
Eventually I found myself deeply in “the zone” – something I rarely feel when I’m drawing. I spent the full time on this one drawing – also something rare for me. I don’t understand much about the mental state called “the zone,” but I lost all sense of time. When the moderator’s timer went off every 20 minutes for the break, I was surprised – it seemed like only a few minutes had gone by. My mind didn’t wander to thoughts outside the drawing – it was just me and the pencil.
Around the last 15 minutes or so of the session, I switched into critical mode, and I noticed proportion problems (and I thought I had measured so carefully, too), and the drawing looked overworked. Even so, I enjoyed making this drawing immensely.
I wish I understood more about the zone so that I could put myself there more often, but when I recall the other few times it has happened (a recent example was when I was drawing a stand of poplars in class), it seems related to spending a significant length of time on a single sketch. Maybe it just takes a while to get there, and the shorter sketches I usually make don’t allow enough time. I don’t (and can’t) necessarily spend a couple of hours on a sketch just to get into the zone, but maybe there’s a way to get there faster.
Technical note: I made this drawing with a Blackwing (ungraded but softer than HB) and a Mitsubishi pencil in 4B on Canson Bristol smooth paper.