Saturday, March 8, 2014

Charcoal and Other Messes

First I must point out that not all the stories and photos in this blog are in chronological order. Sometimes I have not finished writing about one event before I get swept up into another. What can I say, it's a busy life and an overwhelmingly inspiring place. Usually I have not totally processed one event before being submerged into the next.
So, to backtrack a little, at the end of February I completed my first workshop here in Florence. A 6 week intensive drawing and painting course with much emphasis on the human figure. Having had very little previous experience drawing the human figure I was not sure what to expect. I was very pleased with my results and came out of the experience with a whole new respect for realism as well as many of the art materials we used. In the past I always hated working with charcoal, it is messy and impossible to achieve any sort of detail. How utterly wrong I was...well to a degree, it is true - it is incredibly messy... but with a wooden batten, a bit of sandpaper and a lot of patience it is amazing what kind of detail can be achieved. (the sandpaper is wrapped or attached to the wooden batten and the charcoal rubbed along it into a fine point)
Drawings come out with the precision of a photograph in black and white. What an eye opener for me. I had far better success with the charcoal than I did with the paints in the end. Although I did not manage a great portrait of my model Elley, I did manage to make a great friend in her. Elley was ever so patient with my grumbling, complaining and mumbling to myself throughout the process. I'm sure I began to embody the typical stereotype of the half mad artist who has inhaled to many fumes and ingested to many solvents. Elley did not seem too concerned that I might lop off my ear and stick it in the mail at any given moment, in fact she was even willing to sit for extra sessions for me as I attempted in vain to capture her likeness in paint. In the end I came out with a portrait that could pass... as a picture of her long lost sister. The painting in itself is not great, but does bear some likeness to her. The learning curve on the other hand was great. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge throughout the entire course with some results coming out stronger than others. The trick now becomes integrating the new knowledge into what I do. Something that can be easier said than done.
Not to worry, I don't have to figure it out just yet, as I have already embarked on workshop number two! I have switched schools, saying farewell (for now) to the Florence Academy of Art, and have now started at the Leonardo Da Vince School of Art to take a 4 week course in Fresco! Buon Fresco to be exact which translates as "True Fresco". There are no modern modifications, techniques, tools or pigment here... it's the real deal, it's painstakingly slow and hard...but I love it... so far.
I will write more about the Fresco experience next post. Cheers!

This is my final charcoal sketch, two weeks of work. 
(Roughly 24"x 20)

Portrait in oils (of Elley's long lost sister)
Thanks for being so patient Elley!

The beginning of the Fresco process...this is after day 3 of work.
(The full panel is roughly 12"x24")

My Fresco at the end of day 4.
(More on this process in the next post)

1 comment:

piyush said...

interesting read!