Sarum Studio Drawing. Week 2

Charcoal figure drawing

Figure IV. Charcoal on Roma paper, 48 cm x 66cm

'Angelo'. Charcoal portrait drawing on Roma paper, life size.

‘Angelo’. Charcoal on Roma paper, life size.

For the second week at Sarum Studio, I stuck with charcoal as my medium. The figure was actually a two week project which was started last week, and represents approx. 20 hours of work. It was great to have the time to gently practise control over modelling, making adjustments here and there. It is still not as highly rendered as it could be with even more work, but I only want to concentrate on finish up to a point. I personally prefer drawings that retain some freshness, perhaps (in the words of Harold Speed) ‘dither’ in the expression. Overall, the drawing is accurate, but I could have given a little more flow to the posture and feminised the hand some more. I like the work in the thigh area though, and think it subtly conveys a sense of flesh and weight.

The portrait, ‘Angelo’, was a week’s work of around 10 hours. While I still need a lot of practise in refining my use of charcoal, I am pleased with the likeness and characterisation achieved. Not least because this was quite a difficult portrait to lock-in, as the light and shade provided little definition to get hold of. This was a particular problem in shaping the nose and working out exactly how other features, such as the corner of the mouth and far eye, were positioned against it. A few minor tweaks and flourishes aside, I managed to capture the sitter very well. My only regret is that I left modelling the ear to the last 5 minutes and ran out of time, so what is there is rather basic and in need of knocking into shape somewhat. It’s not too bad though, and isn’t intended to be a focal point, so I think it works (as long as it isn’t studied too closely). I like to think of it as a good example of essential selection and not giving the same level of detail and finish to all features. This is a key lesson of naturalistic drawing and painting – although admittedly, a little more finish in this case would have been preferable.

Here’s an informative text I read online today which describes some more of these important lessons concerning light and shade, design, viewing the whole and points of focus… making art and not simply copying nature: Frank Benson “Advice to Artists”
Note: Frank W. Benson (March 24, 1862 – November 15, 1951) was an American ‘Boston School’ artist.