The months have been flying by. I went full time at work as of October 1st and have spent the last month training for a new task at my work place. The past weeks have been a little crazy on my mind with going back to learning a position from the ground up, but the trade off was a set daytime schedule. It brings a sense of calmness to my life. So presently, I am ready to throw myself into finishing this drawing and getting on to some ideas that I would like to try.
At this point, I can honestly say that I am tired of working on the dark background. The layering required for a dark background tires my hand out. Although, I did start using a Prismacolor Turquoise pencil about half way through and was amazed how easy the graphite adhered to the Bristol. It made me wish that I would have grabbed that pencil to begin with! ;) The darkness of the background needs to be smoothed out, and there are still some lighter details that need to emerge with the help of a handy eraser, but there is no hurry. I am going to start looking through some promising photographs and start laying out the next project. A little overlapping of subjects will do me good. :)
As you can see, the 6b has been put to work on this drawing. I am in the process of layering it and will add the lighter objects after by pulling them out with an eraser. Looking back at the progress of this piece, I contemplate background vs. plain Bristol. Although the stark blank background would give the piece a bold-charged impact of a human hand projecting off of a blank sheet of paper, I like the continuity (my nemesis yet best friend) of the darkness grounding the subject and giving it a more meditative feel. After all, this is suppose to be a portrait of sorts. Hmmmm... Just thinking out loud.;)
A little more graphite blended onto the hand and here is the progress on the drawing. It will still need some refining before the decision is made about the background. There has always been debates on how my backgrounds should be handled. Many of my peers think that it should be left blank to add to the effect of the hand coming off of the page. I have always opted to put the background in. After looking back through my blog, it is obvious where this technique has been successful. It is equally obvious (to me anyways) on a few compositions where a background left out might have been a slight improvement. I guess that I am just not sold on celestial free floating objects. It seems that I need to ground my drawings to the world that they are associated with. :)
The field mouse made his entry into the composition this weekend. It was a pleasure to work on such a small area of fur. I had to make sure and keep my eraser sanded, so his light hairs would be tiny, sharp and clean. Here he was at the beginning of the weekend...
And here he is now... His foot is the last area to be completed. I am leaving that until the finger underneath has been rendered. A background is necessary when creating the light hairs. :)
The wrist tends to be the area of the composition that is so busy. I intentionally crop my photos to leave a portion of the wrist and arm. The area is vital to give that extra push of dimension to the hand that is being rendered. It is also the most interesting part for me to draw. The skin is usually richer in depth as it recedes into the background. The hair being present is such a wonderful contrast to the texture of the skin. Most importantly, the wrist is the area most influenced by what lies under the surface of the skin: muscles twisting, bones pushing, and the subtle shades of the underlying vascular system. I cannot express how important it is to the impact of the composition for me to have this area present. The complexity of the wrists sets off the simplicity of the hand in such a strong way.
As you can see, the graphite has been worked to the mid point of the palm. I decided to stop in that area, so the focus can turn to the little field mouse. This will leave me enough blank area to the right of the little critter to rest my drawing hand without smudging the details.
For those new friends arriving to Sketches, the you will notice that I edge the corner of my drawing with tape. It is a special non acidic drafting tape. There mustn't be erasures to the area that it is being applied, or the chance of damage to the Bristol is greatly heightened. I find that this tape works very in keeping my edges crisp and clean.
I've had a lot on my mind this week, and there is no better place to sit and think than at the drawing board. Solutions to every day problems come to me a little bit easier in the midst of sculpting a figure on paper . The issues of the day are smoothed out with the layers of graphite and dissipate into the air. It makes me a little ashamed of my tendency to take my art for granted in the fact that it will always be there waiting...
Moving on... Here is the progress on the hand. The depth of shadows are about where I want them to be. The decision of the background hasn't been decided yet. It will be either left the color of the Bristol or will go black like the photo. I am leaning towards the black... We'll see.
The next portion of the composition to be shaded will be from the wrist to the little critter. Then, the mouse will make his appearance. The last two fingers will be the finish to the figure drawing. After that, the background will be drawn in or not. ;)
The composition is moving along steadily. Usually, after being absent from the drawing board for a period of time, I have to regain my bearings. Thankfully, this was not the case. It felt as though no time had passed. Just like reminiscing with an old friend... ;)
The hand is transferred and underway. It is always a little difficult to find the right depth in the beginning to separate the shadows, so I apply the graphite lightly and will work to add several layers after the original blending. If I go to dark with the graphite application in any area, it will muddy the blending stage. When that happens, a kneaded eraser can be used to pull out the excess graphite. Sometimes, the graphite embeds to deeply into the grain of the paper and a white eraser is needed (sparingly). When the clean up looks to be a major project, it is just easier to start over than to deal with problems that can arise from using a more harsh eraser. Over time I have learned the hard way to resist making a strong initial layout, it is always better to sculpt the image in graphite using layers.
A baby field mouse is the subject of my next composition, and the drawing will be 8 x 6 inches when completed. The photo was taken out of one of my own from last year. I really like the positioning of the hand and the little mouse perched on it. I will take this initial drawing and transfer it to Bristol Board. All of my initial work will be based in 2b lead with a mechanical pencil. By the looks of the background, the 6b wood cased pencil will definitely be put to use, too! ;)
I have been getting handy with the jigsaw as of late. This drawing is mounted on my newly resized drawing table. The lift to this drawing table was heavenly, but the width was a devil to maneuver and very heavy to tote. So... I searched through my son's tools and found the correct ones for taking the hardware off the back. The drafting bar on the front had to go, since it had only been used for resting pencils on. Then after a little measuring, I cut a fairly large portion of the board off. As you can see to the left, I sealed it with black paint and made a black line down the side to make it appear nice and straight. The jigsaw and I took a few wrong turns! :( Now the paint is dried, the hardware is reattached to the back, and viola my new and improved drafting board. :)
Did I ever tell you the story behind this drafting table? I bought a few of these in various large sizes off of EBay for pennies on the dollar, after I put my large drafting table into storage (hopefully to reappear once my new studio is constructed. :) ). The tables were listed as scratch and dent returns. I cannot say enough about how wonderful they are. The surfaces on mine were all ready to draw on. There was only one that had a tiny dent in a corner that my hubby repaired with filler. The best part of the purchase was that I didn't sink a lot of money into them, so it makes them perfect to modify to my own specs. :) I love shopping EBay!
Most of the month of February was spent playing with my colored pencils. (I will post some pics later. :) ) But as the middle of the month approached, I decided to get down to business and sort amongst my photos for my next graphite subject. Some of the subjects where chosen from the Internet, and some of the compositions came from my own photography. Last week, the choice had been made... well kind of. ;) Then, I got looking through some old archives of mine, and the hunt continued on-- each photo taking me down memory lane once more... This cost me days on end!!
So this morning, I put an end to the insanity and threw a few faves onto the drafting table for a final decision...
**Note** As I sat down to type this post, the memory stick for my camera had been left on the desk top and popped a reminder up on the screen... that was an hour and a half ago. Bet you can guess what the time was spent doing...Aaaargh!
Oh... and while I am thinking about it, my mind kicked in the fact that there was never a New Year's goal posted this year. Well, I am fine with no definitive goals this year. It was a topsy turvey end to last year and a crazy beginning to this one to say the least. So, my outlook on 2013, and maybe for the next few years, is to keep an open mind and work schedule. My word of the year is"Evolve". I absolutely love it and think it fits me perfectly in every facet of my life right now-- where change is absolutely everywhere and that is not always a bad thing! ;) I've got some new and old interests making their way back into my life again... It will be a little surprising to some, and they will unfold here in their own time. ;)
But for now, I am heading to my studio to make the final cut and get my new project underway. At this moment... Even I do not know what it is going to be! LOL
Can you tell by the disarray of my drafting table that I decided to do a little impromptu study in colored pencil? ;) Last night, I sat down to contemplate my next study in graphite, which must begin by popping a movie into my DVD player. Somehow, I messed up the loading of "The Pagemaster" (Just felt like I needed a little artist rendered imagination in my life. :) ), and it took me through the making of the film. The hand illustrated animation captivated me, and the process of colorization was as always... inspiring.
It was then that I began to look through my colored pencil technique books and pulled out "Colored Pencils" by Morrell Wise. This particular book seemed to be colored pencil drawing in its most broken down form. Plus, a fellow artist had recommended this book to me a year ago for the blending lessons. Without delay, I dug out my Prismacolors pencils and began sharpening.
**Note**Please do not think ill thoughts of me, but you can see by the photo below that my next step was to pull apart the book. It is so much easier to see the pages flat on a surface. I do this with all of the art books that I study drawing techniques from. The pages of the book will get three hole punched, and the book will get placed in its own individual binder.On the thrifty side, damaged books can be saved and bought cheaply with this in mind. :)
Charcoal paper was chosen for the support... extremely toothy. My inner need to have perfect lines and control kicked in and stopped all progress. It almost made me put the color adventure on hold. Then, I thought of how smooth Bristol had such an astounding effect on my graphite technique, so I decided to move on to a smoother surface.
**Note** While looking back at this unfinished piece this morning, I am drawn to the loose pastel feel. It definitely deserves to be revisited and finished.
The colored pencil technique works from defining the depths of the shadows and working out to the highlights. This greatly appeals to me, since I have always seen my subjects as being made up of shadows. So... I pushed on. Grabbing a scratch piece of transfer paper, I started again. It was a little iffy for a while, until I began to blend the red of the cherries. I could feel myself being drawn into the process. Then, I worked on the stems. The final highlight was Cream, and the second the color grabbed onto the Apple Green-- I was hooked. At that moment of blending, it became evident to me why colored pencil is referenced to as painting. The process is amazingly similar and reminds me of painting with colored wax.
"Colored Pencils" by Morrell Wise is proving to be a great jumping off point on my exploration of colored pencils. I am anxious to experiment on a few more surfaces and will be enlarging the subject to get better control of the thick waxy pencil points. (Graphite has me trained on such a thin lead.) The book also contains the "how to" of rendering an apple, strawberry, and a bunch of grapes in a similar step-by-step process. Wise's book was published in 1985; so, as far as I know, it is no longer being produced and that is a great shame. Lucky for us, places like Amazon and EBay can be a great help in purchasing a copy. :)
While finishing up this drawing, I remembered why I fell in love with the photo of this little guy so much. Not only is he small and fuzzy, but he is in the process of being hand fed. It represents humans interacting with nature in one fine moment. Is there anything better than lending a helping hand to someone in need?
My pencils were put away about an hour ago, and the photograph below represents the finish to a much neglected drawing... There may still be some final touches over the next few days, but he is complete enough to be introduced to my blogging friends. ;)
I decided to start the 2013 year with this finish, instead of my usual New Year's post. (That post will have its turn next.) I believe that this little guy has waited long enough! ;)