Study1 February 2013


Study1 February 2013

Can you tell what it is yet? I guess not…  well, to put you out of your misery it is a bee which has got itself soaked on the wet flower heads it has been visiting after a rain storm. Rather cute looking, really, which is why I chose it for a personal study project. Unfortunately it is on hold at the moment for a commission which I have to complete first.

As I mentioned a couple of posts back I am hoping to get out of my comfort zone a bit and try some different materials from the ones I am used to for my portrait drawings. For paper I normally  use Daler Rowney 130 g/m² cartridge paper, a habit which  stems from my calligrapher’s days yonks ago. It is fairly smooth but has a bit of bite on the surface for the medium to hold on to. This I have found a nuisance on the odd occasion though, when I have worked on very small detail. The minute ridges and valleys on the paper surface don’t always allow me to put the graphite exactly where I want it, which can get a tad frustrating.

A lot of graphite artists seem to like using bristol board, so I thought I’d try ‘Daler Rowney 250g/m²  Bristol Board – Airbrush’. It is very white and extremely smooth, which I thought might be helpful for achieving gentle gradients in rendering. As you can see I haven’t got very far yet but I am already finding that the smoothness of the paper is making rendering in my usual style actually a lot more difficult so a change of tactic is needed.

To date, most of my portraits have been executed using fine mechanical pencils, 2H or H, HB, and mostly 2B. My shading is done largely by the differences in pressure when working the pencil. I know other artists apply this method with great success but personally I don’t like blending by smudging because I find it impossible to control and, because the graphite is pushed well into the paper that way, inflexible and often irreversible. It seems I may have to come to grips with it on this paper though.

In order to achieve a decent drawing, I have had to introduce a much wider range of pencil grades, and, because of local availability they come in the shape of ‘proper’ pencils, rather than mechanical ones. I happened to come across a set of them, so I opted for ‘Staedler Mars Lumograph’ pencils, in grades from 2H to 8B. Not quite the same as the popular Derwent variety, though for the moment they will do fine. They are proving a challenge as it is, I am not used to continuous sharpening to keep a good point, but to have such a variety of grades is nice, albeit more fiddly when working, having to change pencils frequently.

I will have to see how the drawing progresses, I am not particularly impressed with the way the different materials are handling so far, but it is a learning curve after all. Why should change be easy – it wouldn’t be a challenge then, would it?


5 thoughts on “Study1 February 2013

  1. An interesting insight to the trials and tribulations of ‘change’ from the artists perspective. I wholeheartedly agree with the aspect of stretch, I know from my professional background – without stretch we do not grow (using the rubber band analogy) which is precisely my aim in my own medium of photography oh and I got the bee just not the wet bit

    • Lol, Scott, well done for guessing right, I will be able to do a bit more to it now that the commission is finished before I start on the next one. Which, if it comes of, is going to be huge, I am not sure whether to jump for joy or panic. Yes, stretching is good and necessary or things get stale. This business of using different materials is only a tiny aspect of it all as I am dying to do some ‘proper’ painting. Time management is a problem here, though, it is hard to cram everything in. As for your photography – I will be curious to see where your own journey takes you over the next few months.

  2. I expect you’re learning a lot while you’re finding it a bit frustrating. I applaud your move out of your comfort zone, and trying to master a different technique will only add to your overall skills. I think your bee looks great so far.

    • Thank you Lorna. My thinking is – if there is something better suited to the job, I’d like to find out. And if it means learning that I don’t want to be using some material or other, then that is part of it. They all have their own properties anyway, and it is good to know what is good for what. I suppose if you are happy to plod on as you are then there is no need, but if you hit the barriers with what you are doing then it is time to start looking around to find out how to overcome them. And the bee, well I hope it is still as cute looking when I am done. I don’t like having to interrupt work to do other stuff, but there is no getting away from it. Commissions come first. And then there is Mother’s Day to think of, time to make some cards….

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