Doing bits large:
or left-handed, or maybe
Is my portrait my face or…?
Towards abstraction in self-portraits:
Unlike down south, where it’s all much more regulated, there is a pleasing imperturbable casualness about life-drawing up here. There is no official model’s association or union, and hence no rigorous insistence on changing rooms, fixed breaks, specified payments, etc. In Melbourne we stick to a fairly rigid programme of five at 2 minutes, two at 10 minutes, then a break of 10, followed by three at 20 with intervening 10 minute breaks. Up here they start with five or six at 1 minute, and then a series of varying lengths, could be 10, 20, 35, with indeterminate breaks. Seems to work and no-one complains.
The models all seem to be amateurs – among others we’ve had a student, a handyman, a university lecturer and a bus-driver. And today’s Norm, the bus driver, also appears some weeks on the other side of the operating table as a participant drawer in his own right – and pretty good too!
a couple of blow-ups:
and a final devil:
Having done a head in three colours in the portraiture class (charcoal and white chalk on brown paper), I thought I’d try it in figure drawing.
The theory behind this is that in drawing on white, you can’t go whiter, so you are starting with the highlights and are working from light to dark. This is also what one does in watercolour (but not in the ‘thick’, non-transparent media – oils and acrylics).
However, starting with brown, one is in mid tone, and can go lighter with white and darker with black.
So here is Lou, last Sunday at the JCU Lifers’ All-day, on an opened out brown carry-bag from the bookshop:
And here she is in simple line:
Having tried white on black in the portraiture class, I thought I’d see how it might transfer to other subjects. The native flower that caught my eye has large bunches of very, very, white-yellow stamens. These would be very difficult to see against a white ground. But on black…
This first one was done with watercolour using a very small brush:
The problem with this is that even with the small brush, the stamens are too thick, and it is hard to convey the fact that there are very many of them. So these next two, done in coloured pencil, are to my mind more successful:
A simple start – an imagined head, in graphite. For those who remember, uncannily like Clement Attlee!
And who said both sides of the face should be equal?
Three-quarter head often more interesting than full frontal:
So – three-quarter head, in masses rather than in line, with use of negative space to bring head forward, and done in water-soluble graphite, water applied.
But if line is preferred rather than mass, sometimes a continuous line drawing can work (and sometimes not):
Does one really need to show the face in full? Perhaps less is more:
And yet less still
A group effort – five people in turn worked on this drawing of me. Therefore the first person set the scale of the whole and made the decision on line or mass. It’s done in soluble graphite and I did the final wash over.
This next series is aiming (not particularly successfully) at some chiaroscuro and sfumato effects. The ideal was not to put a clean line down but to rely on mass. The first two are in uncompressed charcoal:
Now, on brown paper and using two colours – charcoal and white chalk:
And the even more startling white on black!
But line is so seductive, black on white
Or white on black (with graphite overlay to give a silvery sheen):
Still two more sessions to go in this course.
At the south end of Dead Man’s Gully:
From the Kewarra mangroves to the Palm Cove jetty:
Some call it Hancock Island, and some, Scout Hat:
Using a Conte pencil (yes, wood-encased):