Thursday 11 May 2017

The joy of layering graphite

I am exploring a style, or genre, that I have admired for a long time, but always felt too intimidated to really try myself - botanical art. I very much enjoy the loose and expressive styles of sketching and painting, but I actually also very much like to sit down and spend a few hours producing a (reasonably) precise and accurate drawing or painting.

I've worked through a course on Craftsy called Drawing Essentials: Inspired by Nature, taught by Kathleen McKeehan, this week, and it was just perfect. If you're interested in learning more about working this way, I can only recommend this course. It teaches you all the basics you need to get started: how to measure your subject, different transfer methods using tracing paper, how to light your subject, as well as different techniques for shading - using mainly an HB pencil, which, when putting several layers upon each other, can give you as dark a shade as a much darker pencil. With these three drawings, I was mainly interested in the shading techniques, so I just used the supplied photo references and drew them in my sketchbook without any measuring. I totally enjoyed sitting down for an hour or so and just put one layer of graphite over the other and seeing the subject emerge. These pencil drawings are also the perfect thing for me to do in the evenings, when I'm too tired to get the paints out. It's also rather relaxing, almost meditative.

The next steps will be working on actually seeing all those little details (this kind of drawing is also a very good exercise in observation), working from life, including all the measuring, as well as using watercolours, and maybe also coloured pencils - and of course lots and lots of practice. This course has also been the perfect preparation for a class I signed up for at the beginning of the year, and which is going to start soon. I can't wait to dive deeper into this fascinating way of drawing and painting!