Category Archives: Pastel and Conté crayon

I usually like to use these materials for quick figure studies. I prefer to work on a toned pastel paper which functions as a middle ground onto which a few strokes of light or dark or both are enough to stimulate the imagination, allowing the figure, like magic, to emerge.

Fifteen minute study. Conté crayon tightened with pastel on tinted Canson paper. 32 x 50 cm.

Figure Drawing, August 22, 2022

Three minute gesture study. Charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Three minute gesture study. Charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute study. Conté crayon tightened with pastel on tinted Canson paper. 32 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute study. Conté crayon tightened with pastel on tinted Canson paper. 32 x 50 cm.

Last night I was happy to see our beautiful young man there again. He has slowly become more relaxed and creative as he learns the posing ropes. Nice. But indeed it was to be his last evening modeling for us, as the summer winds down and soon he will be off to school. But I did discover his name, Kobe, like the Lakers’ famous basketball player. Ha!

Additionally, I had also heard that last night was going to be our last evening at the kasteel (!) but in fact, that’s next week. 😦 Turns out, is was only a summer lease as there is no heating in the place and barely enough electricity for some spot lights, so we will have to go elsewhere. Apparently a new location has already been found – and with a year’s lease. Though sessions will not begin again until the end of October. OK.

Fifteen minute study. Conté crayon tightened with pastel on tinted Canson paper. 32 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute study. Conté crayon tightened with pastel on tinted Canson paper. 32 x 50 cm.

Three minute gesture study. Charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Three minute gesture study. Charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Back to tonight. It was one of those evenings where for some reason it took me awhile to warm up. The first half did not yield any keepers but the second half did. I had purchased some new Canson paper in a grey-brown hue which I was eager to try out. The two fifteen minute studies displayed here are from that batch. Since it is a lighter tonality than the sepia I have been using, I can see that in the future I will want to leave enough time to zap in some shadow accents, too. As it is, I feel these two displayed here are quite successful though a little too light overall in tonality.

As the evening progressed I found myself repeating an artist’s mantra that a friend of mine who studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts back in the seventies once shared with me:

  • mise en page (placement on the page)
  • circulation de la lumèire (circulation of the light)
  • ne tombe pas dans les détailes (don’t fall into the details)

The first one is appropriate for any two dimensional drawing (like the three minute gestures) but the second two are especially useful for the fuller development of any drawing (for example, the fifteen minute poses included here). Also, you do not need to restrict yourself to figurative work to apply these rules. They apply to abstraction and can help you to evaluate why a good abstract piece actually works – when it does. And, as I think about it, I would add a fourth: the appeal of texture. En français: l’attrait textuel?

Conté crayon on Canson tinted paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Figure Drawing, August 8, 2022

Conté crayon on Canson pastel paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute study. Conté crayon on Canson pastel paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Conté crayon on Canson tinted paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute study. Conté crayon on Canson tinted paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Tonight we had another new model. New to us but also new to being a model for figure drawing. So, besides setting the length of the poses, Patrick, our new co-ordinator, does not tell the models what to do. (Bruno our last maître didn’t either) It’s always best to let the model sit, stand or lay in ways that are comfortable to them. Then we figure out how to make that interesting.

 

All that being said, there are models who intuitively understand what makes for a good pose. In that context, our new guy seemed to possess a comfortable bodily solidity so that the poses he took, though extremely simple and without any contrapasto or inner movement, were quite interesting to draw. That was my experience at least. These are a few fifteen minute studies as well as some three minute gesture drawings.

Three minute sketch, charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Three minute sketch, charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Three minute sketch, charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Three minute sketch, charcoal on tinted sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute pose.Conté crayon tighten with pastel on toned Canson pastel paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Figure Drawing August 1, 2022

Fifteen minute pose.Conté crayon highlighted with pastel on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute pose. Conté crayon highlighted with pastel on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute pose. Conté crayon highlighted with pastel on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute pose. Conté crayon highlighted with pastel on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm.

We were so lucky to have the same model again tonight.  I smiled to see him and could observe over the course of the evening that he was a little more relaxed this time. He even brought his girlfriend and the two of them modelled together during the second half.

All that being the case (the first half or the second) I did not feel that I had a very successful catch for the night. The double session drawings did not play out for me. (Both were very sweet but unsure how to make such a venture interesting for us to draw.)

Three minute pose. Charcoal on toned sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Three minute pose. Charcoal on toned sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Displayed here then are a few that made the grade.

Fifteen minute figure study. Conte crayon highlighted with patel chalk on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm

Figure Drawing July 25, 2022

Fifteen minute figure study. Conte crayon highlighted with patel chalk on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute figure study. Conte crayon highlighted with patel chalk on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm

A new model tonight. A classically beautiful young man. Strong, healthy. He reminded me of a young puppy that is now growing/becoming a big dog. So his head, hands and feet were slightly larger proportionally than the rest of his body. At maybe 17 years old, he appears to be on the cusp of catching up. A wonder to behold. Shy, actually tense: this was his first time.

Fifteen minute figure study. charcoal highlighted with pastel chalk on sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Fifteen minute figure study. charcoal highlighted with pastel chalk on sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

I really enjoyed drawing him though, allowing even his tension to reflect through. As it turned out, I think the fifteen minute studies were the more successful. This is because a three minute pose is all about gesture. And it took him awhile to get gestural, to relax. With one exception, his short poses were not very interesting (to me). I had difficulty getting a quick read. But the longer ones allowed time for roving and searching and because he had such a solid figure there was plenty of material to feel my way through.

Fifteen minute figure study. Conte crayon highlighted with patel chalk on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm

Fifteen minute figure study. Conte crayon highlighted with patel chalk on Canson paper. 30 x 50 cm

Three minute gesture study. Charcoal on sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

Three minute gesture study. Charcoal on sketching paper. 35 x 50 cm.

A few fifteen minute studies. and one three minute gesture.

Conté crayon on pastel paper.

Figure Drawing, July 18, 2022

15 minute pose. Charcoal on toned sketching paper.

15 minute pose. Charcoal on toned sketching paper.

Rear entrance to Kasteel Rooigem in Sint Andries, Belgium

Rear entrance to Kasteel Rooigem in Sint Andries, Belgium

After a very long hiatus (2.5 years!) the open studio figure drawing sessions here in Bruges have finally resumed. Hooray!!! During this interim, while the pandemic raged, Bruno Van Dyck, our resident artist-host, moved to a new studio in an old castle. Thanks to him, we now have a lovely setting for drawing in an outbuilding of the (former) Bishop’s Palace, on the outskirts of town. A great setting: some clouds do have a silver lining.

3 minute pose. Charcoal on toned sketching paper.

3 minute pose. Charcoal on toned sketching paper.

15 minute pose. Conté crayon on toned Canson paper.

15 minute pose. Conté crayon on toned Canson paper.

So the place is new but the crew and the set-up is not. Bruno too, has passed the baton to a new “master of ceremonies”, who now collects our coins and instead of delicious jazz or fantastic guitar licks plays Piaf and French chansons. For a Belgian castle it all seems quite appropriate. Maybe next week we’ll get Jacques Brel? As the session began I wondered how rusty I would feel but as it turned out, there were a few keepers for the night. Included here are a few – plus the castle’s back door entrance.

 

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, 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 fumé. 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.