Archive for March 28th, 2022

We copied the Millais drawing (see previous post) and Sargent’s drawing of Yeats in one three-hour class meeting.

The Millais drawing had a limited value range, meaning the shades of gray were close together and there was no deep black. The Sargent drawing, by contrast, gives us intense black and gradations of equally assertive gray.

Our aim was to emulate his bravura graphite strokes and to summon the courage to produce large areas of a #10 on the values scale, i.e. a true fearless black.

This power can only be expressed with a powerful drawing tool, one that can deliver the “fearless black and the bravura graphite strokes.” Therefore, the first decision for the artist/student is to choose the right drawing tool. A #2 will not rise to this occasion, as you can see:

This student did not give up, however. She stubbornly continued to work on the challenge at home. And this time she wouldn’t be seen with a #2. Instead she reached into her tool kit  for the mighty Cretacolor #6 Art Stick. Ah, what a difference! Here’s the first stage of her new drawing:

Then she let the shock of hair cast a deep shadow over the forehead. The face at this stage has considerable depth. The second stage:

And finally, ta-tah, the Reflected Light at the right side of the face… a sliver of light at the very edge. Voila!

This sliver of Reflected Light was put in with that powerful, but subtle tool we met in the previous post: the Kneaded Eraser.

Now compare this finished drawing with the previous stages. Really look! Let each version pull you in and see the subtlety and power of that sliver of Reflected Light.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was an American painter who spent most of his life in Europe, particularly Rome and Paris. Here we were working from his 1908 portrait of the Irish poet W.B.Yeats.

Drawing by Mary Shieldsmith.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.





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