I completed this figure drawing in charcoal on a huge piece of Arches Aquarelle Hot Pressed paper. It was the first time I'd tried this paper out and I was really impressed with it. It has a fairly smooth surface, which is very resilient. I would go so far as to say it is even tougher than the Fabriano Roma paper which I had always used previously. It takes a good amount of Nitram charcoal, and on this occasion I also added some compressed charcoal to give added punch to the darks (particularly the box, but also some of the cast shadow and dark accents in the figure itself).
I'm really pleased with the end result, which has a nice gesture, a good sense of the anatomy and a pretty strong likeness as well. The drawing got off to a good start, even taking into account that I dispensed with doing a preparatory gesture study. I find it always gives me a big boost in motivation if I can get the portrait shaping up well from the early stages - which happened with this drawing.
The thing which helped most of all, however, was taking the time during the first few days, to establish an effective light impression. Getting the background solidly established and working effectively really gave me a decent footing for all future work. Relatedly, nailing down the 'fall-off' of light over the figure itself sets the stage for an effective atmospheric drawing with a good sense of space.
The main areas to improve on, I think, are the feet and knees, which I feel could be sharpened up and given a more solid treatment.
This drawing in charcoal and chalk was begun just before Christmas and I recently put the final touches on it. The cast, of Bernini's Constanza, is so exquisite and was an absolute joy to work on. Even the complicated areas such as the hair and base were a pleasure - and unlike some previous projects, the whole thing almost seemed to draw itself.
My approach was to try to focus as much as possible on getting the sculptural quality of the cast across, by emphasising the variety of textures: the smooth face and forehead, the rough-hewn feel of the underside of the base, and the undulating folds of the fabric.
On this occasion, I departed from my usual method and added some compressed black charcoal and some soft white pastel to give the extreme darks and lights a bit more 'poke'. The result, I think, is a success.
I completed this portrait drawing during the afternoons over a couple of weeks. The sitter, an engaging and cheery actress named Emily, was an absolute pleasure to draw and managed to hold a fairly awkward head position without it showing in her expression. I love the averted gaze and the tilt to the head, which has a nice way of implying a third party in addition to the artist.
Due to the angled position of the head, it took some time in the early stages to get the facial features aligned and working together, structurally - but the initial efforts paid off and has yielded a pleasing, peaceful, atmospheric drawing.