Wednesday, March 26, 2008

To Study or Not to Study

Here's another copy of a Holbein portrait drawing. This time, Jakob Meyer.

Drawings like this evidence that Holbein did fairly extensive studies (with some coloring) before beginning a painting. I know there are some artists who still do this today, and there are also just as many who only do a quick 1 or 2 minutes before they dive onto the final support.

Last year I tried doing a carefully rendered rough draft for a commission. The problem was that I then had difficulty transferring it to the final support. Since then I've worked on sketching without an eraser (or in a medium that you can't erase), hoping to gain skill in "seeing" it right the first time. I do think that I am getting some better, at least I'm not so nervous about getting it right the first time anymore.

However, with color choice and technique, I do think I would benefit from more carefully rendered rough drafts. Colored pencil, as a semi-transparent medium, stands between the unforgivable nature of watercolors and the "scrape it and begin again" nature of oils.

The forgiving nature of CPs tends to depend on the support. Drafting film/vellum is very forgiving, you can erase anything on it (although I know at least one artist who feels it changes the film for the worse and won't do it.) Pastelbord (and I imagine other sanded surfaces) is also forgiving, because it takes many layers, so you can put a highlight back in over the top of something darker (although, I have found exceptions to this already with pastelbord - and I don't think you can really erase the surface either.) Traditional papers however, are usually not considered as forgiving as the above mentioned supports.

In the end, as with most things in art, your technique, process, and preferences feed off of one another and what works for some, won't for others and visa versa.

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