After sight sizing yesterday, today we made a comparison drawing in charcoal from a smaller photograph. The idea was to take comparative measurements on the photograph, such as the distance between the ear of the horse to the heel of the boot of the rider and compare it to some other distance, such as the hock of the right hind leg to the coronet of the front right hoof, then maintain the same ratios in the drawing. We were working with vine charcoal of a medium softness. I haven’t done much charcoal drawing, so this was a learning experience. I now own a charcoal sharpener (which is a bit like rigid sandpaper on a handle) as well as a tablet of charcoal paper. It’s very useful to do a preliminary charcoal drawing to establish the tonal values you will want to maintain before adding the element of color. As you can see, I didn’t work much on Geneia’s head. I was concentrating on getting the horse down accurately.
(I blogged the Workshop backwards so that you can read about and see the pictures by scrolling down…….)
Our instructor, Lynn Maderich, began our workshop with a lesson in “sight sizing.” I knew what that was, more or less, but had only never really practiced it. Briefly, sight sizing, whether done from life or from a photographic image, is the process of taking measurements of a subject and marking one’s paper identically. We stood at a distance of six or eight feet from our easle, which we had adjusted to a perfectly vertical position, and used a plumb line to measure the topmost point of the picture, after which we walked up to the paper and made a mark on the adjacent paper, then stepped back to measure the bottom-most point, stepping forward to mark our paper. A plumb line or weighted string hung veritcally in front of the photograph. We held another plumb line in our hands to measure the distance (again, from our vantage point, marked by tape on the floor where we would place our toes) from the plumb line to the muzzle of the horse, then stepped forward to mark our paper at the same distance from a plumb line we had drawn vertically on the paper. Back and forth we went. One can do this whether one’s paper is positoned adjacent to the image (or object if drawing from life) or at some distance from the subject. The key is to step back further, so one can look at both subject and drawing at the same time and make the comparative dimensions precisely the same.
Lynn had provided a number of black and white images to work from. I chose this foal because I liked the play of light over it’s haunches and the way it was looking back over its shoulder. Subsequently, however, I worked from photographs of Pelee and Geneia I had taken myself, because one cannot sell drawings or paintings that are copied from a professional photographer’s image without that person’s permisssion. Anything I did in paint, I wanted total copywrite of, so this was the only non-Pelee picture I did.