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Friday, 21 February 2014

Starting a Large Drawing

This weekend, I will be beginning what is the largest drawing I've ever taken on. Not usually did I ever use the medium of pencil or graphite to do a finished piece of artwork. Maybe only twice to three times over the last 35+ years of drawing and painting. I did one of my daughter as a toddler, playing with an antique Fisher Price Farm set on an old wooden cereal crate my Grandparents gave me years ago. The second one I recall is a commission I completed. I expect this drawing to take over a year to complete. It is 22x30 inches.

Originally I was going to do it on a tinted surface in charcoal and white pastel pencil but I would have needed to work much larger even to avoid the surface texture inhibiting my ability to get into fine detail so I changed to use graphite pencil. I need a sharp sharp soft pencil in many instances and charcoal is just to fragile and difficult to get to such a sharp point as well. My reference will be images I took of a friend's partner.

Unfortunately, I took these images Before I had the where with all to set my SLR on RAW so the images are only jpgs and at the time, not very easy to correct much in the way of contrast, sharpening, etc. to be able to see well enough to do a detailed painting like originally planned. I know better now, mainly with the help of my own partner who is much more knowledgeable in the areas of camera settings, working with images with digital software, etc. Not to mention my eyesight is not what it used to be. So, a drawing will be what I will be tackling. My original motivation for having taken these references images of my model, in the environment I did, was to complete a large finished painting that was destined for entrance into a prestigious Canadian portrait competition that runs every 2 years. I planned this back in 2010 but I did not get off the ground with it. This time I will. I look forward to it! The work will be challenging but I relish it. A while back I had wanted to try a silver point. On further research, I realized that the ground for silver point needs to be specifically prepared so since I don't want to be getting into that nonsense, having only one prepared surface available to me that comes from my partner, one he prepared years ago and never used, silver point for me would be a one off. Also, I relish dramatic lighting conditions and silver point does not lend itself to that. Darks have their limits in silver point. There are some deep darks behind my figure in the scene I have chosen so silver point is out as well.

Maintaining my artist side, working full time, as well as the expense of some of the materials, is not an easy pursuit. But just thinking about beginning an extensive project already is uplifting and positive! Nothing worthwhile comes easy. If one really loves something, a way will be found to pursue it in some capacity. Even if my piece does not end up selected, and truly I don't expect it to, mainly because it is pencil, I will still thoroughly enjoy doing it!

a warming up pencil portrait of my partner John - from life

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