Thursday, June 28, 2012

Art: Julie With Satchel.

Julie With Satchel (Pencil, charcoal dust, and watercolor on Bristol board, 8x9").

Lately I've been obsessed with trying to get a smooth pencil finish on works without using a finger or tortillon to blend.  I don't like overly blended works.  I feel like every 6th grade art teacher instructs drawing students to take a paper towel and blend the hell out of everything.  That's what I was taught.  The problem is the technique creates cool looking artwork while covering up a multitude of drawing inadequacies.  As such, students never develop skills beyond this.  Over-blending removes all nuance and results in a homogenized surface.  We end up with a lot of blended artwork that hovers in this middle-ground of sound without fury.

I want to achieve a smooth and even finish using dexterity and technique, while softening the occasional edge with a quick stroke of my finger.  I've been playing around with different combinations of attack, paper, and pencil.  One material I was curious about was charcoal dust.  I decided to try it out for this drawing.  I started out with a pencil drawing and partially rendered face.  I then applied the charcoal dust to the background and parts of the body using a brush.  I encountered a problem with the paper.  I used Bristol board which has a very smooth finish.  It works well for pencil, but it had no tooth to trap the dust.  It sat on the surface like beach sand on a boardwalk.  Any contact or slight breeze, and it disappeared.  I'll have to try it again using paper with a tooth.

In a related coincidence, an artist I admire posted a picture today of a beautiful pencil drawing with smooth and soft contours.  On top of the drawing sat the utensils used to create it: a pencil, soft eraser, and yes -- a tortillon.  Perhaps I can't escape its use and need to treat it like anything else -- all good in moderation.

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