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June 04, 2005

Scratchy marks and dark charcoal

When youíve been doing it for a long time you know what to look for. Iíve been drawing in charcoal for long time, Iíve been drawing for even longer. I started drawing, seriously, in graphite, over twenty years ago. I would get huge pieces of paper that I would cover in the lead compound from one side to the other. And that took some doing I can tell you.


torso, pointing 1986, graphite on paper

The graphite was a hard, unforgiving, substance and charcoal is much more malleable. Graphite takes an age to get into the black. Charcoal beats the pants off the new Aston Martin, it goes from zero to black in half a second. Mind you once youíve got the dark of the blackest black down there ainít no going back.


the circus girl, study, 2005, charcoal on paper

Iíve been doing it for so long Iím beginning to know what to look for, I know the features that suggest the form. I know where the Iliac Crest is, what subtle curve is produced by Richerís band and the way the Satorious wraps over the Vastus Lateralis, and the implications of the beautiful Adductor Longus.

That is, knowing what goes on underneath enables me to put down the marks which suggest the form. I look at the figure and make myself see the slight indentations and variations on the surface that I know are there.

Time was the Art Academies would have students drawing skeletons for months on end. Then they would move on to the Ecorchť Ė literally: flayed. This was a model of the body with no surface tissue, showing all the muscles. Then they would spend months drawing drapery before they were allowed near a life model, who was Old Harry from the Porters Lodge nine times out of ten.

How times have changed.

Posted by john at June 4, 2005 09:22 AM

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