|1/24/19 Conte on Derwent sketch paper (5-min. poses)|
Adventurous watercolor and acrylic painters know about Yupo – it’s a strange “synthetic” waterproof, tear-resistant paper that’s made of plastic. Its completely toothless, nonabsorbent surface makes liquid media behave in surprising and often striking ways. Years ago when I was dabbling in abstract mixed-media collages, I messed around with Yupo, but it was a novelty more than anything else.
Fast-forward to a couple of years ago when I was preparing to participate in the Women’s March. Rain was a distinct possibility, so I brought along a pocket-size Field Notes Expedition notebook, which is made entirely of Yupo. I didn’t need it that day, but a short time later in Cannon Beach, I happened to have the book in my pocket and discovered what a joy the paper is with soft graphite. It seems counter-intuitive – pencils seem to need some kind of tooth to grab onto. Yet the experience is like gliding soundlessly on ice, and soft graphite leaves behind a rich, dark line that looks almost like liquid.
After that, I sort of forgot about Yupo again – until a couple of weeks ago at life drawing. Thinking it was a colored pencil, I inadvertently picked up a traditional sanguine Conte pencil that happened to be in my case. Using nothing but one fingertip to do the smudging on toothy sketching paper, I had great fun expressing Shawna’s form even on relatively short poses (the ones shown above were five minutes each). I tried soft graphite and colored pencil on the same paper, but it was more difficult to get good smudged effects compared to the chalky Conte (which is a bit messy, though not nearly as bad as charcoal).
|1/27/19 graphite in Field Notes Expedition notebook|
Something about that delightful experience made me wonder what kind of paper would be best for making graphite smudge as nicely – and the Yupo light bulb went on over my head! I pulled out the same Expedition notebook I had taken to the Women’s March and the beach and sketched a quick garlic with a 10B pencil. Using one finger, it was easy to smudge the graphite, and the darkest shadows came out looking almost like a marker. It turns out that Yupo makes all media behave surprisingly – not just liquids.
I dug out the 11-by-14-inch Yupo pad I still had from my mixed media days and brought it to the next life drawing session. Typically I use an ink-filled brush pen on the one- and two-minute poses because I need fluid to move that quickly. But instead of having a liquid medium, my 10B pencil skated frictionlessly on Yupo as if the support had turned to liquid!
On the five- and 10-minute poses when I had more time to develop Bob’s form, I again used a single finger to smudge the graphite. It was the most charcoal-like experience I’ve ever had – but without the mess, of course! (One black fingertip I can handle.)
|1/31/19 2-min. poses|