Tuesday, October 15, 2013

From Quick Sketch to Finished Piece

Sumo Girl, coloured pencil and ink on 9x12 warm tan Stonehenge Paper.
Untitled, Female Nude, Oil Pastel and coloured pencil on 9x12 Canson Mi-Tientes Black Pastel Paper.
1 minute sketches with blue crayon on A4 office paper (I tweaked the colours in gimp)
Every life drawing session begins with a warm-up: I and other artists insist on a series of 1 minute poses. Usual it’s ten one-minute poses, followed by five two-minute poses, and then we decide on the remaining time by concensus.  That means some of my best drawings end up on scattered pieces of crappy paper. Most artists use some kind of cheap paper for the minute poses, these are warm-ups and exercises after all. Large newsprint is the common preference; I use A4 office paper for all my sketching.
Most of them end up in recycling, but what to do with a good drawing on bad paper?  Mostly, I assess, winnow, store and move on. This time around, I decided to transfer two of my favourites to a better support and take some home studio time to work of something new. The biggest challenge was maintaining the energy and spontaneity of the quick sketch, not nearly as easy as it sounds.  I do find it frustrating that when the model settles into a long pose and I pull out my ‘good’ paper I quite often experience creative freeze. But, give me a loose leaf of A4 Staples Business Depot 90lb office paper, and a one minute deadline, pizzazz. 
So here’s how I did it. I made my own ‘graphite paper’, which is a sheet of thin (tracing) paper covered in graphite (translate, scribble to full coverage with a soft pencil). Lay the graphite paper face down on your paper of choice (tan stonehenge), lay the sketch face up on top (like a fine art sandwich) and with a stylus (you can use a pen but then you’ll add ink your favourite sketch) draw on top of your sketch. Now you will have transferred faint lines of your sketch onto your good paper, and can continue your ‘life drawing’ at leisure in the medium of your choice.
For the black paper, I took white chalk pastel and made a page of chalk paper for use in the transfer. In hindsight, I would have picked a darker complimentary colour as I spent a great deal of time removing white chalk dust. Of course, ideally, I would have the confidence (or $$$) to use ‘good paper’ in the first place. In a perfect world….
The A4 sketches are exclusive to this blog, the ink sumo, and glowing girl on black are available on Etsy in my Life Drawing Portfolio.

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