Category Archives: DRAWINGS

In general, I prefer to use pencil, pastel or conte crayon on toned paper. A toned paper is a middle ground, on which a few strokes of light or dark or both can serve to stimulate the imagination.

Underdrawing in silverpoint #36 over toned ground, highlighted with white.

Silverpoint underdrawings, batch #3

Silverpoint underdrawing #38 on toned ground highlighted with acrylic.

Silverpoint underdrawing #38 on toned ground highlighted with acrylic.

After a long hiatus (at least from here) I’ve got another batch of silverpoint underdrawings to publish. These were created during our recent trip to California – in my new studio there. The new studio is in our garage, so besides the new working-space, I envision that I will have more room there to create larger pieces (who needs cars anyway?). My current working-space here in Belgium measures about 4 x 10 feet but since Euro-compression-design rules the day I have been able to pack many useful features into it. Still. it’s cramped.

Underdrawing in silverpoint #57 on toned ground highlighted with white.

Underdrawing in silverpoint #57 on toned ground highlighted with white.

When I began this project I knew of course that the silverpoint pencil nib is quite restrictive, so the challenge in these panels is how to render various highly textured, amorphous and abstract shapes with a very fine, low in value line. Mostly impossible. For many of these compositions then, if I were to use just silverpoint, I’d have only very flat uninteresting underdrawings to offer. But since they are executed on a toned ground, the addition of the while highlights (using tubes of titanium white in acrylic) allows for greater manipulations. Washes quickly establish the tonality, texture and gesture – things which are otherwise difficult to achieve in silverpoint alone.

Underdrawing in silverpoint #36 over toned ground, highlighted with white.

Underdrawing in silverpoint #36 over toned ground, highlighted with white.

The silverpoint then establishes the basics of the design and hints toward the darker values, while the white moves the image forward. I enlisted the help not only of brushes but also sponges, hands and fingers. And since each panel is about the size of a standard book, I could rotate the panel to get my washes to drip in whatever direction I needed. Nice. That’s really hard to do with a big panel or canvas. 😉

Underdrawing in silverpoint #58 over toned gesso, highlighted with white acrylic.

Underdrawing in silverpoint #58 over toned gesso, highlighted with white acrylic.

All in all I created fourteen panels during this recent time. They are still resting in their little beds in California, however I was able to take some photographs of them before leaving. I’m hoping to put the whole series together during our next trip, where I will have enough space to throw some paint at the final assemblage. As ever, we’ll see.

Silverpoint underdrawing on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawings, batch #2

Silverpoint underdrawing #05 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawing #05 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

I’ve completed six more panels, so I figure it’s time for an update. Illustrated here are a few of those that I that have found to be particularly interesting/beautiful for various reasons. The most evocative appear to be those whose compositions include human beings or parts thereof. It’s as though each one is from some unwritten comic book – captions not included (HergĂ© would have understood). Additionally, the abstract panels cause me to wonder/admire anew at how the iconoclastic impulse of Islamic art continues to produce such interesting varieties of texture and pattern.

Silverpoint underdrawing #07 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawing #07 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Further, one very general note. I feel I am serendipitously creating 21st century daguerreotypes(!). (Who knew?) It’s as though by using silver to recreate images based on a digital photograph the mechanistic process has come full circle: human to machine back to human. And again, because the drawing stylus is silver it’s almost impossible to achieve a line that is darker than a 50% grey value. All values are compressed thereby, necessitating a multitude of small decisions. Adding in the white highlights makes each panel come alive – my own gevoelsmatig pleasure.

Silverpoint underdrawing #11 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawing #11 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

The raison d’ĂȘtre for these remains as underdrawings. And I have no doubt that their beauty and subtlety will contribute to the whole in as-yet-to-be-experienced ways. However, some will be held back for individual display and appreciation. For this, I think I have a plan…

Silverpoint over tinted acrylic gesso ground, highlighted with (acrylic) titanium white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 /1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint Studies, Batch #1

Panel #10, Silverpoint over tinted gesso ground, highlighted with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 /1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Panel #10, Silverpoint over tinted gesso ground, highlighted with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 /1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Panel #01, silverpoint underdrawing over tinted gesso, highlight with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Panel #01, silverpoint underdrawing over tinted gesso, highlight with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

I’ve been doing some underdrawings for a new project. It will be a different approach to the same image/subject matter as the “A Piece of Me” project, completed in December 2020. However, instead of being executed in a full textural and chromatic range this one will be untextured,  monochromatic and ghosted back. It will be done in silverpoint on acrylic and overpainted (in acrylic or oil, TBD) on sixty four panels.

Here’s a selection of some of the individual panels I’ve created so far with some notes. 1) Using silver point means that I can never reach a rich dark value (this is not india ink!). So that’s fantastic and exactly what I’m looking for. 2) In addition, since I’m creating them on tinted grounds, the darkest value provides less contrast than if I were starting from a white ground. Again, excellent! 3) The tinted ground itself establishes a middle value and allows me to lay in white washes to bring in some highlights. 4) Inevitably, the value range is compressed and subtlety reigns. Nice.

Panel #02, silverpoint underdrawing over tinted gesso, highlighted with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Panel #02, silverpoint underdrawing over tinted gesso, highlighted with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Panel #03, silverpoint underdrawing, silverpoint on tinted ground touched up with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Panel #03, silverpoint underdrawing, silverpoint on tinted ground touched up with white. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

I can already see that, when the composition warrants it, a few of the panels are or will be worthy of individual display, though I’m not sure how to handle that. Should I create them (only) for integration into the final piece? Or should I create some for appreciating in isolation (only)? It’s a great problem to have which, at the moment, I don’t have to solve. I can simply create the little panels, fall in love and see where it all goes.

Figure Drawing, December 23, 2019

The model tonight was a lady named Angie. I scrawled her name across one of my drawings so I would not forget it. She is a large, jolly lady who I enjoy drawing. She takes good poses and seems to know intuitively what would be interesting for those of us on the other side. Below, two pastels on tinted Canson pastel paper and five charcoals on tinted sketching paper.

These drawings are posted much later than usual. They were done just before we departed Bruges for a three month trip – which became five due to the travel restrictions of the covid virus.

 

Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

 

Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Figure Drawing, December 16, 2019

Our model tonight was Melissa (or possibly Lisa, I’m not sure). Otherwise known to me as the-lady-with-the-glasses. She has thick thighs and a thin upper body. An interesting combination to attempt to capture. So here’s the catch of the night with my favorite in the spotlight. If you look at that one closely you will see the light (erased) pentimento from my first strokes. I almost had given up on the drawing (really!) but just kept feeling and probing until the figure began to emerge. It’s satisfying to pull something out of the trash – and finally make it work.

Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

 

 

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in

Figure Drawing, November 25, 2019

Tonight we had one of our regulars, a large, jolly lady who usually brings her own props with her. Tonight, though, no props, just flesh. But because she is so massive and takes interesting poses – particularly on the shorter ones – I found that the four minute sketches turned out better. So here below are some of the shorter poses, including the spotlighted one displayed above (shown on the wordpress site but not the ezine):

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Figure Drawing, October 14, 2019

Last night our model was Soeren, one of our regulars. He’s really long and lanky. You can’t apply “normal” proportionalities to his figure, for he has a large and bony head, also big feet and hands, so he presents a particular kind of challenge. Last night I was lucky to snag a few keepers from the longer poses and also to find some of the gesture drawings interesting enough to keep.

Also, I had an interesting experience tonight of dropping my kneaded eraser in the middle of the sepia colored paper drawing. Couldn’t find it. Had to make a choice: continue without my trusted third hand or give up on completing the drawing? So I let go of my safety net and found my eraser afterwards. And the drawing worked out anyway. 🙂

Two fifteen minute figure drawings.

Soeren, folded. Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Soeren, Conté crayon on tinted Canson paper, 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Five four minute figure studies.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Figure Drawing, September 30, 2019

I love fat chicks. Maybe it’s politically incorrect to say so. So OK, sue me. But it’s only because they are so satisfying to draw! It’s like sitting down for a good chin wag with an elephant. Dipping your hands into the earth and feeling the earth give back to you all its goodness. Skinny models are great too, especially for gesture, but with elephants it’s all about the muladhara chakra. A deep grounding.

So last night we had a wonderful “fat chick”, with a great sense of humor. She has modeled for us before, sometimes with black wings and stockings. Last night she brought white wings and a white blouse (!). The white wings quickly broke so we reverted to the blouse. Fine with me.

Below are four fifteen minute studies. Conté pencil and crayon on Canson pastel paper. 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

  

And two four minutes gestures drawings. Black charcoal on sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

 

Figure Drawing, September 23, 2019

The model tonight was a regular but one I have not seen for awhile. She’s a good model who takes interesting poses and holds them well. I had more success drawing her on the sepia toned paper than on the gris fumĂ©. That’s how it goes sometimes.

What’s interesting in the spotlighted drawing here is that it is similar to the other one on sepia paper – but different: both were fifteen minute poses; in both the figure was well placed in the center of the page; was traced out in umber; and both had the flesh toned highlights of yellow and peach. But in the case of the highlighted one I had a minute extra to add some deeper shadows and extreme highlights. It really works. It pops.

Three fifteen minute poses. Conté pencil and crayon on Canson pastel paper. 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

Two four minute gesture drawings. Black charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm or 13.5 x 19.75 in.

Figure Drawing September 16, 2019

We had a new model tonight – which is to say this was her first time modeling for a figure drawing session. She did very well: took interesting poses and held them; plus she had a muscular body that was interesting to draw. For some reason I had more success with the longer poses tonight.I like the spotlighted one because she arched her back for that and I was able to capture some aspect of the arch. Plus I had enough time to add a few white highlights – which always makes the drawing pop.

Here below four fifteen minute poses. Conté pencil and crayon on Canson pastel paper. 32.5 x 50 cm or 13 x 19.75 in.

And one four minute gesture drawing. Black charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.