Thursday, April 16, 2009

Turning Red - A Preliminary Drawing...

You can call it what you want... A preliminary drawing, a warm up exercise, value study, my brain on paper, compositional conditioning, a get over your fear session, or even a get to know your subject - date on paper... For me, it is all of those.

I am starting a new painting. It is larger this time. 30" x 30" and in color. A gorgeous tree that I snapped a shot of at Discovery park last Autumn in the most amazing shade of red I have ever seen - I realized that I am a bit intimidated by it. So this time, I decided to take a "baby steps" approach to it. 

Today I began a study of this tree, in charcoal. Made it all the way to the "almost finish" and my paper decided to poop out on me. All the little texture bumps filled up with charcoal and the only way to keep layering more on top is to use workable fixative. I, Jennifer Phillips, the hoarder of everything art supply, IS OUT OF FIXATIVE! 

Nothing is more frustrating than getting close to the end of a piece and running out of materials. So I will be off to Daniel Smith tomorrow to buy more. In the mean time I have posted some of the stages of my drawing from today. I will post the final work tomorrow after it puts an end to my last piece of vine charcoal!

First stage blocking in loose line drawing with a soft charcoal pencil.

... Breaking the foliage down into shapes...

Using soft vine charcoal to begin adding my darks...

...Shmearing to create mid-tones...

Creating a the range of lights and darks is a constant adjusting process - additive and subtractive methods are used here.

This stage I begin to bring out more definition in the foliage while still maintaining a loose feel in the strokes of the charcoal. Always thinking about edges, contrast between soft and hard.

I use a Magic Rub eraser to lift out the highlights. 

Working left to right I work pull out the edges of the trees where they meet the sky.

Detail of the right side. My favorite part is lifting out (subtractive method) - I love depicting the light that flickers through the leaves...

This was a great exercise to help me see the lights and darks that I need to include in my final color painting. I hope that I get it right!

5 comments:

Arco Scheepen said...

What an absolutely stunning piece of work. I love charcoal. I recently decided that I'm crap with graphite and so I started using charcoal. Absolutely lovely material, but quite a learning curve. Thanks for posting the stages, very informative...

cheers!
Arco

Eric D. Greene said...

Jennifer, I like your approach to the piece with doing a charcoal study first. Do those Magic Rub erasers work pretty good with most types of charcoals?

Brian Rio said...

Amazing. This is shaping up to be a beautiful drawing. I vote for more process in your blog. Looking forward to the painting.

Watermelon Loire said...

Yay! It's so cool to see how these little beauties develop!

Thanks!

Jennifer Phillips said...

Thanks everyone for your nice comments!
I woke up yesterday last in the evening finally coming out of my haze of drugs and pain... had gum surgery! Yuck! Totally forgot that I was going under the knife so I will have the final drawing posted soon!

It was really nice to "wake up" to all these nice comments. Thanks again.

Eric, to answer your question - Yes Magic Rub erasers work great for most anything charcoal BUT because it is such a soft eraser, it may not remove charcoal that has been applied with a "heavy hand". I also use Mars White erasers as they are a bit firmer, but using caution as to not remove the toothy surface of the paper. In this piece I used a paper called Daniel Smith Drawing and Framing paper... similar to 2 ply Museum Board in a regular surface. Good question, thanks!