I’ve noticed something interesting over the last few days, that when I put in shading I spoilmy drawings. Well that’s not good. So I’m drawing the line, literally, I’m banning myself from tonefor while, and just working with line in all my drawings until I think the line has got better.
It seems like I’m gradually stepping backwards, getting back to the basics of what I do bit by bitso that I can find my level and move forwards from there. First I started last November by painting,then I realisedI had to learn to draw first, so I started drawing. After three months of drawing, I got seized by animpulse and started painting again, with thepeeling onion. Even though Ihadn’t painted for a while, my paintings were better from then on than they had been, Ithink anyway. Direct benefit from retreating back to drawing. Now I’ve decided that I needto take one more step backwards, drop tone, and go back to drawing only with line.
This has come about because of a few drawings of people I’ve done over the last few days,some portrait drawings. It’s also a result of my experience of the first fewBargue drawings.
I’ll try to explain with the drawings:
First I drew my good mate Paddy when he came to visit for a couple of days. Here he is,chatting with Michelle at the kitchen table. Passing resemblance at best, but I like the drawinganyway.
That seemed to start me off and I did four more people drawings over the next few days.
The next day I drew Michelle. In this drawing I first noticed that the more shading I added,the more I was spoiling the drawing. In the end I rubbed most of it out, and took it back to beingmainly a line drawing. I would have ruined this drawing if I’d kept going, as it was, leaving it when Idid made for a much nicer drawing.
It’s not a great likeness, but it manages to catch something about Michelle, with almost nomodelling of form with tone. It reminds me of a thought I had when I was copying thevan Dyck drawing, that he’d leftmuch of the face as blank paper, but the form lived anyway, and it created a feeling of light.There is some tone on the face in that drawing, true, but all deep shadow, there’s no mid tones really.The form of the face on the right side, in the light, still lives though, and there’s a strongimpression of light on the face.
Why did I do this drawing? I’d decided not to do any more self portraits over a month ago. At leastthis one didn’t send me into the doldrums, like they were doing back then, but I made exactly the samemistakes with it, like I hadn’t learned anything at all. Same old story, fiddling and diddling,the drawing getting gradually worse and worse. I know exactly when this drawing went wrong. Itwas looking fine, even a pretty good likeness, right up to the point where I filed in the eyes,then it all went haywire. I then spent forever trying to balance the tones, adding some, taking it out,trying to save the drawing and knowing I was losing it more with every mark I made. That’s why I looklike I do in the drawing I think, I’m struggling.
Shaken but not stirred, I did this drawing of Michelle that evening. She was tired after a long day ofwork. It’s not a good drawing and looks nothing like her, but I was consciously trying to get themain shapes in just with line and forget about tone after I’d been diddling so unsuccessfully all day.I wanted to get a feeling of weight on the arm just with line.