Posts Tagged ‘charcoal pencil’

If you want to learn how to draw, you have to spend time drawing.  Well, duh.

What makes the learning process tricky is that your progress will not be obvious from one week to the next.  Tricky?  How about frustrating.  You can go for weeks doing, apparently, the same thing and you just want to throw your #5 across the room and pout because you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, repeating yourself in your scratchy little pencil marks.  That’s because you can’t pick up a reading on how furiously your neurons and synapses are trying to catch up with your hand. All those weeks, when you just want to cry, your brain is working it out for you.  Then suddenly, one day–whamo!— it all comes together and you look at the drawing you just made wondering who this genius is that produced this amazing piece of work.

My drawing class is called Multi-Level Drawing because it welcomes new students who have never tried to draw before and it also challenges students who have worked with me for a few years (the self-described “lifers”).   So naturally, I present basic demos for the

newcomers, like this topic on how to think about eyes and curved shapes. (The brown paper is 3 ft high and I use markers for the demos.) The lifers have heard it all before and start drawing on their own, selecting magazine photos of faces that I have spread out on a long table.

One of the lifers suddenly decided to switch from graphite pencil to charcoal pencil, which deposits much more black stuff on the paper with much less effort. Charcoal allows for a more assertive line and more accidentals, like smudging.   The drawing (top) was unlike anything Maggy had ever done before.  It’s animated and daring in execution. And it was fast.  Then, with plenty of time left in the class, she drew another face, with equal daring.

I can’t predict how the process will work for you.  But that bit about the neurons slugging it out in your brain, that part is sure.

At right, Maggy’s drawing from just five weeks earlier.  With hindsight, we can see the potential: it’s loose and suggestive, and at the same time anatomically correct. But still, there was no gradual progression from this to the masterful drawing she produced in charcoal.

It’s not a linear process.

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




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