After the disappointment of yesterday’s life drawing, a dose of positive thinking is needed. This is the life drawing I feel is my most successful. I produced it over 10 successive full-day Saturday sessions at LARA under the tutelage of Alex Heath.
There are several elements of the drawing that I think work well. I think I had a fairly good idea of the shapes and proportions of the pose. I was also pleased with the keying of the dark values and the handling of the charcoal. The atmospheric, somewhat glowing, effect of the background also works well.
As a lawyer, I have colleagues who say that for every “rule” out there, there is always a “but”. It seems, for an aspiring artist, this also rings true. On previous occasions I had tended not to focus too much attention on the halftones. My logic in this was taken from the lithographs in the Charles Bargue Drawing Course (see under Resources), where there is always a very clear separation between light and dark and fairly minimal halftone.
However, on this occasion I spent quite a bit of time concentrating on the darkest halftones (ie the darkest tone that is not actually shadow). This was partly because there were only very small areas of true shadow on the figure. I learnt, from this drawing, that although the halftones should never compete with the darks, halftones are still really important in terms of turning the form. The shapes and edges of the halftones should be just as clearly thought out as the shadow, even if they are “played down” in comparison to them.
There was more work I could have done on the edges between the shadows and the lights. In the upper torso particularly, the edges are not varied enough, giving a sharp and angular quality. The more rounded or flatter the form, the slower it turns away from the light source, and this means the values spread over a larger area of the subject’s surface, giving a much softer edge.
I also find the overall impression is rather heavy and sombre, a characteristic that often seems to manifest itself in my work. Some “sweetness and light” wouldn’t go amiss in my work generally – but overall I was pleased with this drawing.
Ben Laughton Smith
Aspiring artist, training in the classical tradition.