My most recent painting is now hanging in the gallery and I have one canvas left. As I consider my next order from Opus, I’m excited about a week in which I can get back to the basics and draw.
I think I started this whole art thing upside down. Not that there is anything wrong with that; I now have confidence wielding a brush far more than I have confidence wielding a pencil, that’s all, and that needs to change.
This week I saw a beautiful photograph on my Instagram feed. It featured a wizened, gnarly tree balanced on the edge of a deep valley with jagged, snow-covered mountains all around and a glacial lake in the bottom. The photographer had shown both the black and white version and the colour version and, wow, the black and white version was so dramatic, I could look at it for hours.
With the ease of being able to grayscale a photograph using computer software, my bank of reference photos could be days, weeks, months and years worth of fodder for pencil drawings.
I see pencil as different to pen and ink. I am quite comfortable with pen drawings – I call them scribbles, not as a negative but as a fun positive – and they were my go-to during the plein air excursions last year (and likely will be again this year).
Pencil is a whole different technique. There’s the dynamic of adding, taking away, smudging, and really dirty fingers! There’s soft edges, hard edges, all the Hs and Bs, light and shadow and deepest darks.
What I’ve tried so far isn’t worth showing, but here’s the photo I’m working from as it is proving pretty challenging. It’s a black and white rendition of the coastline south of here, looking north, and I am only just starting to see that there’s some shrub like laurel in the right margin of the photo that needs to be drawn forward from the trees in the background…ugh! How do I do that?
Anyway, this is the perfect little side route (I see it as one of those short trails to a viewpoint before continuing on the main path) of my artist’s journey while the rain is falling, the wind is blowing and it’s still too cold to sit outside for more than 10 minutes. Besides, I’m waiting for my delivery of canvases to arrive.
Have you spent much time working on pencil drawings? If so, I’d love to hear what you think of the endeavour. If not, give it a go – I’m sure you must have a pencil and some paper lying around somewhere…