Life Drawing – Media

I try and give a lot of thought to what media I take to life drawing and how I might use it. I love charcoal and completely see why it is most peoples ‘go to’ medium for life drawing but I find that I get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing all the time without making progress, if I don’t challenge myself with different media and specific objectives; trying to work differently.

For life drawing last week, I decided to use only graphite but combining different sorts; pencil, graphite stick, soft graphite block, liquid graphite with, of course, eraser. I practised marks on scrap paper before I left home so that I new what to reach for in the initial quick poses. When I arrived at the studio, I found that I had left all my media at home. All I had in the bottom of my art bag was a single pen and a water brush. Folk offered me other media to try. This is an initial quick sketch made with home made vine charcoal. I found this very hard and scratchy compared with willow.

A3, charcoal, 2 mins each

I reverted to my one pen, a Kuretake, water soluble pen, used with the water brush for a bit of tone.

A3, 3 minutes

A3, 3 minutes

A3, 3 minutes

A3, 5 mins

I had lost my initial spontaneous line with the pen and was getting bogged down in complexity. For the longer poses, I added charcoal to the pen for mass and tone.

A3, pen and charcoal, 30 minutes

Our model was Jennifer, an ample lady of great grace. I find it quite difficult to get her proportions right as her feet and hands are so small and delicate, but not as small as I have drawn them here.

A3, 30 minutes

A2, 3 minutes

A2, pen with charcoal, 20 minutes

Drawing large with just a pen was an interesting challenge. I think the initial pen drawings are the most successful, but inevitably they are all about outline. I don’t think that the addition of charcoal is successful, but it was poor, scratchy stuff.

For the last six months, I have had problems with the thumb on my dominant hand. At first, this was diagnosed as tendonitis, then inflamation of the tendon sheaf, and now an x-ray has confirmed arthritis. I hoped that it would resolve but I now know that I have to work around it. Drawing with a pen is particularly difficult and, looking at these drawings, it’s clear that my fine motor control has gone. It’s wobbly lines all the way from now on.

Objectives for next session:

  • take the graphite and use it!
  • try to remember to select details
  • try not to work with outline
  • remember ‘lost and found’.



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