I was back to using pastels for the life drawings this week. As usual, I started out with Cretacolor’s Chunky Charcoals. On the longer poses, I’ve added more brilliant colors with several blues, reds and greens from Prismacolor NuPastels.
Recently, I have been talking about “process” in creating art. It occurred to me that I had documented many of the stages of cutting this particular block, Sap Buckets, Tampico Road (2010) and thought that it might demonstrate an interesting example of “process”. We are used to seeing finished works of art but rarely have a chance to view various stages leading to the final image.
For an explanation of the block printing process in general, please click here.
What I show below are, in chronological order, a few of the many steps needed to complete the final block to be printed. You can look at the individual stages and compare them or view the slideshow to see the gradual changes in sequence.
There is a kind of “translation” that occurs in the process of cutting a block for printing. It’s very direct to do a pencil drawing and transfer it to a block. But to make a final block print image I need to cut away all of the areas that will not be printed. All of the white (unprinted) areas must be cut away leaving the surface that will be inked and printed (black areas). If I want to print a line, for example, I have to cut everything around that line. Look at stage 2 and 3. You can see that the drawn branches of the trees on left and center are created by cutting all of the area around them at the same time negatively creating the sky. To realize a drawn image in a block print, it has to be “translated” or realized by the process of cutting and letting it emerge from the cut area around it.
I usually start with a complete drawing of an image but leave some areas not fully realized. Look at stage 4 and stage 5. The large area of roadway at the bottom was left blank in the original pencil drawing. I was’t sure how I wanted to represent the path at the bottom of the image. It made more sense to use the cutting tools (gouges in this case) to “draw” the textures rather than “translate” from a pencil drawing.
For me, one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of making block prints is being aware of and controlling these two (at times opposite) techniques of drawing; with the pencil and with the cutting tools.
I hope you find this of value in understanding a bit about the “process” involved in making block prints.
I decided to use ballpoint pen for this week’s life drawings. I’m using a slightly textured paper which helps to pick up the ink. It allows me to press very lightly and still transfer a fine line to the paper especially when I’m starting the drawing. The advantage of using lighter lines at the beginning is that I can move freely and get the general shapes and proportion of the figure without getting too “fussy”. Those early light lines become less important as the drawing evolves with heavier line work but they provide a roadmap of the “process” of drawing to the viewer. Even if I use pencil in a life drawing, I won’t erase those earlier lighter lines even though I can. It would take away from that sense of motion and energy that are part of the drawing process. As I work the drawing in, I put more pressure down and make heavier, darker lines. On the longer poses, it’s interesting to work in a darker partial background with “hatching” (close parallel or crossing lines) to help bring the figure “forward” (to make it stand out).
After using pencil and ballpoint pen for the last couple of weeks, I decided to go back to my favorite medium for life drawing; pastels. It may be of interest that last week’s model and this week’s are one and the same. I feel that the medium often dictates the style of drawing. You might find it of interest to compare last week’s drawings and this week’s. There are, of course, different poses but it’s the same model being drawn and the handling of the figure is quite different between the two styles.
I had a rather slow start at the last life drawing session and was not happy with some of the results so I’m posting only those that I felt were of some value. It’s no reflection on the model who is wonderful. Some days it’s just hard to get going and the muse is slow to arrive.
There is an old ramshackle house down our road that we pass by often. I’ve wanted to do a drawing of it for some time and finally did one. Because of various circumstances (uncertain weather, time constraints, etc.) I had to do it in stages. It occurred to me that if I photographed the drawing in each of the various stages, it might make an interesting addition to the blog. One of the aspects of art that I’m interested in is the idea of “process”. Most people who are not involved in the creative process look at an artwork, whether a quick sketch or a masterful painting and only see the finished product. They are not aware of the “process” of how it came to be. The idea is to show at least part of that process through several stages so that getting to the end result can be better understood. For this drawing I started with a light pencil drawing of the composition which I went over with ink. Then gradually added areas of watercolor eventually adding more detail both with brushwork and pen drawing. I hope you find this of interest. Let me know if you have comments or questions.