Doing many of these charcoal studies that may or may not develop into a painting! Drawing skills are so important! Watercolor is a drawing medium, so most watercolor painters know how to draw.
Drawing also has another purpose: it lets you get to know the subject and pick up what goes deeper than the surface appearance. Usually it is an emotion, that something that gives it life. Not just in portraits but landscapes or anything else!
If we don’t pick up on this ‘undercurrent’, we end up just painting shapes and pushing pigment around. That, in my opinion, is the real crux of painting or of art in general.
There are so so many artists out there who miss this completely. They are great draftsmen and even have amazing technique but their art lacks life and emotion. Painting is a lifelong pursuit but to have that force of life in your work is a goal that few ever attain. I hope I’ll get there eventually…
Technique, therefore, must be seen as a tool. It must be mastered in order to have the ability to muster this sort of expression in painting. Time spent drawing is time well spent. Understanding form, design, balance, rhythm is essential. Every time I draw I am surprised how much I don’t know and can’t do instantly. Out comes the eraser: start over, change, alter…it’s ok, that’s all part of growing.
These are done with General Pencil Co. Vine Charcoal and Pitt Artist Pastel Pencil in 101 White.
Robert Henri put it this way in his book The Art Spirit: ‘The student must learn to read the state, temperament, action and condition of their subject through the outwards signs, and use the same as a means of expressing and making special what is important to them in the subject.’
Lovely work, great use of backlighting! Wondering if you use fixative? It always seems to “rob” a bit of the surface tonality & therefore the rich complexity of shadows/tones. But what alternatives are there?
I do and it’s true, it does chance the appearance of it. I use a spray fixative by Golden (Satin) but very little, basically. Just one careful spray to cover it and that’s it. That way it won’t change too much… I also wish there was another, better way.