Posts Tagged ‘Kneaded Eraser’

You know I’m going to say, no, it’s not hard.

Let’s consider things that are hard to do:
shoveling snow — if you’re out of shape
making Risotto — if you don’t have the right pan
playing the flute–if you have a toothache
traveling in France–if you can’t say “ou est la gare”

Drawing drapery is hard if you don’t have:
a Cretacolor Art Stick
a stomp, you can improvised out of rolled stationary
sturdy drawing paper of a fairly large size
two hours to immerse yourself in total concentration
a love of concentration

The drawing materials are easily bought and they are inexpensive.

So what about concentration? How do you acquire a love of concentration?

It seems to comes out of curiosity.

How do you produce a drawing that conjures up an illusion of three dimensional volume out of nothing but  a play of light and shadow? Your curiosity will naturally motivate your practice and your practice will lead to progress. And progress… will amaze you!

This drawing is 19×15 inches. I worked from a photo on my laptop and pushed and pulled the composition a bit to make the proportions more compact and relying on the “rule of thirds.”

It took at most two hours: an hour-and-a-half of engrossed concentration followed by some looking from a distance and tweaking the values a bit with the kneaded eraser.

Drawing drapery is rewarding, both in the process and in the result. It’s a versatile tool to have in your artist’s tool box.  Let’s just call it essential.

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

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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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A Kneaded Eraser is soft like dough.  You massage it –knead it—until it has the shape of the area in your drawing that you want to remove or lighten.  For example, if you’re drawing a face and you want to put a highlight in the pupil, you shape your eraser into a point and dab that on the pupil to remove the graphite.

John Everett Millais drew his fellow Preraphaelite artist F.G. Stephens in 1853.  What makes this a powerful drawing is how Millais combines two opposites:  a subtle, soft drawing technique with the presence of a strong, even confronting personality.

So, this was a challenging exercise. Faces are always challenging because of the emotion that we project into them. In this face students apparently got mesmerized by the piercing gaze and couldn’t believe how soft it was at the same time.

One student confronted the eye separately and drew it masterfully.

But then drawing the eye in the face was problematic. Isn’t that interesting!  It’s not a matter of technique, but emotion.

Technically, the Kneaded Eraser was supposed to play the leading role in achieving subtlety. The shadow that covers most of the face was put down first. Then the Kneaded Eraser was scripted to make its entrance and perform.  Look at me, I’m not just cleaning up, I’m here to actually DRAW.

Drawing by removing is a powerful technique. For a beginning artist it may feel counter-intuitive.

In the second drawing we did, the Kneaded Eraser asserted itself. Next.

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





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