|12/10/18 (1.5 hours, graphite)|
A few months ago I went to a long-pose life drawing session at Gage because I wanted to try Eduardo Bajzek’s graphite technique on the human form. I used the full three-hour session (with model breaks, that’s about two-and-a-half hours of drawing time) on one drawing – probably the longest period I’ve spent on one figure.
I was in the mood to try it again, but I modified the technique slightly. Much of the time spent on this graphite technique goes toward the initial toning and smudging of the paper with graphite. As I learned last time, though, the human form doesn’t have as many places to erase out for highlights as would a street scene, for example, with a large wedge of sky above it. This time, instead of toning the whole area, I lightly roughed in a contour line of the model first in a more traditional manner. Then I applied graphite and smudged it within the contour line in a way similar to what I had learned. I was still able to erase out small highlights. Although I didn’t have the full range of values that I might have if I’d used the complete toning process, I think I had enough to get the job done. This drawing, about the same size as the one from September, took about an hour and a half.
The pose went on for another hour, and I could have continued working, but I was afraid I would overwork the drawing (I was tempted to continue picking at her face, for example) and lose whatever freshness is possible for a drawing that takes that much time. I’m happy that I stopped when I did.
This drawing is a good example of the very typical dilemma I often face when I’m not sketching on location. In the field, more often than not, I seem to be motivated to complete a sketch as quickly as possible: I’m cold, hot or distracted; other potential sketches call to me; the light is disappearing quickly; I have an appointment to get to; the sketch outing is nearly over; etc. Working quickly seems to help retain a sense of freshness and spontaneity (although sometimes at the risk of looking rushed and sloppy). But when I’m making a still life in the comfort of my home or attending a long-pose session, I run the risk of overworking past the point when I should stop. For me, the stopping point is when the spontaneous response to whatever I’m looking at is still apparent.