Today’s class began with some warm up exercises in producing greyscales using pencil, willow, and conte. How many shades of grey can you make with your medium of choice?
Next, we moved on to a still life exercise: on black paper, using white conte and charcoal, we were asked to draw white paper cranes on black fabric, using only the values. No line drawing: just showing shapes by differentiation of white, black and shades of grey. Here’s what I managed to produce by the end of the class (you can see the still life set up behind my selfie).
I’m happy with how it’s turning out (we get to finish it tomorrow). However, looking around at some of the other students’ work, I noticed that some people were able to achieve really smooth colours and shades with their conte. I found that difficult, because it’s so powdery! As soon as I smudge it a little, I seem to wipe away all the conte. Too heavy-handed? Or maybe I have to harder to work the powdery residue into the paper.
It’s kind of fun to work with the conte and willow charcoal – it’s smudgy and smeary, and fun to blend. The impermanence of it is a blessing and a curse, though! You can get rid of a mistake… but you can also smudge away something you really wanted to keep.
The other exercises we’ve done so far have been helpful. I noticed, for example, that I was using some of my blind contour skills to look at the still life while marking out some of the edges of my work. I also tried to observe the shape of the negative space. So I suppose I’m accumulating some skills!