This portrait was done over two weeks in charcoal and white chalk. I really enjoyed finding the soft transitions and the structure of the face. The pose itself was fairly unremarkable and the costume is plain, which meant I needed to look for opportunities to add interest wherever possible. I particularly wanted to do this around the hair, ear and earring. I also enjoyed trying to capture the texture of the jumper. The resulting drawing, I hope, captures the placid, contemplative character of the sitter.
In most traditional art schools, the transition from drawing to painting is accomplished by means of studies in charcoal and chalk on toned paper. The idea is to get you used to working with light and dark tones simultaneously on a background similar to a tinted canvas. This was my first 'go' at doing this in the context of a nude figure and was a great learning experience.
It was particularly interesting how the addition of chalk enables you to think more easily in terms of the flow of light. With just charcoal and the white of the paper you have to achieve the lights negatively (by omitting to put down charcoal) but with a stick of chalk in hand you can actually identify the areas receiving the most light and simply draw it in over the grey of the paper. The result is a really pleasing sense of depth and form.
That said, it was initially difficult to resist putting chalk all over the place. In this figure there was a marked fall-off of light as the lower parts of the figure receded from the light source. Eventually, after some push and pull, I achieved a gradation of light which really adds atmosphere and gives a nice sense of the figure existing in space.
*Those in the vicinity of Bristol can see some of my other figure drawing at the Royal West of England Academy 164th Annual Open Exhibition in Bristol which runs from 9th October to 27th November.
Really pleased to write a post about Horsham’s Art Trail 2016, which I took part in. People flocked to the 13 venues in and around Horsham where local artists exhibited a wide variety of art and crafts. The Art Trail is a spotlight on the creative world of visual arts in West Sussex and it allows visitors an insight into the artists' working practices, through visiting artists in their studios and viewing finished work in exhibition spaces.
Over the course of the two weekends I had well over 100 visitors to the studio and made some great connections with people involved in the creative arts in the region. I even had a bit of fun doing an Alla Prima still life demonstration (pictured). In the day-to-day business of producing artworks I find it so easy to lose sight of the direction my work is going in. Displaying my recent work side-by-side was a really useful thing to do and it provided the impetus to get things framed, displayed and written about - which are chores I find all too tempting to put on the back-burner. The Horsham Art Trail is a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk to local artists about their work and have an opportunity to purchase original and unique works of art. Excited about participating next year and seeing how my work has developed.
Ben Laughton Smith
Contemporary works of art in the classical tradition.