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Archive for March 5th, 2012

My direction at the beginning of the class was to work with charcoal pencil and stompe and to aim for a dense drawing with deep black.

Charcoal comes in different forms. Thin twigs and thick cigar shapes are good for working large and messy.  In pencil form it can be sharpened but, in my experience, the charcoal core is often already broken into sections.  There’s another pencil form where the charcoal core is wound in paper strips and here the charcoal core will be intact.  The pencil form for charcoal leaves your hands fairly clean, which may be regarded as an advantage.  Use either medium or soft.    A stompe is a stick of tightly wound paper and the thicker the stick the better, I think.  It can be sharpened with a utility knife or a single-edge razor blade.

The still life we worked from this class was exceptionally ho-hum and the work my students produced from it turned out to be– exceptional.  One of the things I stress in my still life classes is that you can pick whatever passage of the set up you like.  It’s gratifying to me to observe how students will take the time to look at the drapery, crockery and plastic apples before they start to draw.  This little initial meditation is a sign of maturity.  Beginning students don’t do that, they just start drawing what they think they are “supposed to draw,” usually some vase or bowl because these things are most clearly identifiable.

In the next three posts I will feature three drawings inspired—yes, inspired—by this ho-hum set-up.

The first, by Gabby E., has the ingenious invention of a low horizon.  Because there was very little space for the horizon line (at left), just drawing a line would have made it hard to read.  So she darkened the area below the horizon line, creating the illusion, as it turned out, of an ocean and a seashore.  The drapery and box on the table now become cliffs.  The drawing becomes surreal and tickles the imagination. The tomato is still a tomato—but what a tomato!

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