Part 5 More Sketchbook drawings

Experiments with A reveal-technique

Here I am trying a new technique of mark making. I have traced over a photograph with a blunt point of a small screw-driver whilst resting on the page. I have then used coloured charcoal to block in areas revealing the tracing underneath. The left image has been left, the right has then been smudged to soften the effect. Some of the lighter areas have been lifted out with a putty eraser too

I like the delicacy of this technique. I have done some reveal drawings previously using white oil pastel and then a wet media over the top. Using a metal point allows much finer lines to be drawn. I realise these are not true drawings as I actually traced the image but it was the technique I was interested in rather than the image itself. I would like to come back to this technique with true drawing a little later.

Studies of a jumping Dancer  

These are studies that make up a fairly large body of preliminary material in my sketchbook along with the ones presented below. I don’t intent to discuss each study – they mostly are of no merit other than being part of the exploratory process. However it is worth noting that the more gestural the marks (such as the legs in study 3 above) the more convincing the pose and the sense of movement. I am getting the idea that for movement the concept of ‘less is more’ may apply.

More studies of various poses

Again not much worth saying about most of these studies although studies 1, 8 and 9 are Interesting. Study 1 is rather successful I feel- again less is more, there is very little detail and yet it shows an energetic movement. I like the fact that the person is no more than gestural lines, but the power of the movement is present. The background for study 8 adds interest to the drawing although not much movement. Here I have covered the paper with charcoal marks then smudged them all over then finally removing loose pigment with a rag. This led me to consider adding a background of a more sturdy material, gesso, the results of which are presented below.  Study 9 is also worth mentioning simply because it took me roughly 45 seconds to do, using my memory of the photographic pose rather than looking at the photograph. Once completing I did wet and smudge the charcoal in places to see what happened – nothing much exciting it turns out and I moved quickly on to something else. However on returning to the study a few days later and putting it with the others I was struck by how spontaneous the pose looked (as in fact is was).  So I have added spontaneity to my idea of less is more. Certainly any work that I have ever done for my tutor that has been complimented has been done quickly. It would seem if I think about the task too much I become tight and too regimented and caught up in detail

Making Background Marks

I used a broad wallpaper paste brush to apply clear gesso to some paper, applying strokes in random directions. I then drew over the top when dry using coloured charcoal, smudging areas to bring out the brush marks in the gesso.

Using the clear gesso to provide texture and possibly lines of movement was an interesting exercise on two accounts. Firstly I could not see the gesso as it went on so the resulting marks were revealed as the charcoal was applied over it. The resulting effect does not really create a sense of movement but does add texture to the drawings. Secondly this texture was great at producing form of the body if it was in the right place! Whilst none of these are any great shakes, I think that drawing 3 of this set is the most successful. The dancers right leg is a good example where the textural quality of the gesso is providing form to the muscles. I am quite aware that drawing 4 has become quite ‘arty’ something that I am keen to avoid! As I am typing this retrospectively I must warn you that unfortunately I go through a bit of an arty phase before I get to the end of this!! I have to say though that I prefer some of the smaller studies above ( the 3 I thought worthy of mentioning at least) to these big studies. In a way they have become too pictorial and too detailed. They are not capturing a fleeting moment, rather a held pose.

Finally I decided to see what the effect of pastel over gesso was. Using broad side strokes I created a quick sketch from memory of a person’s torso using quite stylised curves. By adding a contrasting background colour I was able to create an interesting visual effect, that of swirling (doesn’t come across in photo very well). With hindsight I realised that the gesso underneath was a bit unnecessary as I could just use a course toothed paper, however I did like the effect and wondered if I added it to my dancers if that would create a sense of movement.

Pastel over gesso
Pastel over gesso



Part 5 More Sketchbook drawings

4 thoughts on “Part 5 More Sketchbook drawings

  1. These are great too. I really like your experimental approach using different media. I think that 2 and 3 work best for me. For some reason as this part of the course approaches I’d assumed I must use pencil and charcoal – I only realised a couple of weeks ago that of course I can be just as experimental with figure drawing as in every other part, and this has made me keen to get going on it (I’ve been putting it off).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susan, thanks again! it took me a while to work out that experimenting was the way forward! It seems my best stuff is done by just going for it with something messy like ink or water, preferably with my left hand too (I’m right handed). Good to hear that you have been inspired. I too have regained some enthusiasm with your comments as I have been feeling vey isolated of late and finding it hard to finish! Good luck with it all!


  2. Hi, Anna! I am currently working on my final piece for this course as well. I love your experimentation with gesso and charcoals. I fully agree with you that the sketches that you think are working are the ones which appeal to me too. I agree with Susan that your experimentation with media has helped me to push my boundaries too. Keep up the concentrated work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. HI Debbie
    Thank you for your feedback. I have been so slow in doing this that I fear I have lost all momentum with it. It is lovely to get some positive comments to help me through the last bit – I have just been working on another gesso and charcoal (normal willow charcoal this time). I love the randomness of the patterns and the tooth creates such a great dark colour! So much more satisfying than willow charcoal on its own when it can be hard to get a really dark tone. Hope to post that one later, but need to finish it first!! Best of luck with part 5.


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