Thursday, 16 September 2010

Traditional Methods

When I am painting or drawing a commission, I want to have the proportions absolutely accurate in order for the finished picture to be as close a resemblance as possible. This can prove a little tricky when you have two photographs to use as refererence of differing sizes. In this instance, I use the grid method. This involves taping a piece of tracing paper over your photograph and drawing a pencil grid, beginning from the bottom left corner to the top right corner. Here I have only drawn the grid on the section of the photograph I want to enlarge on to my paper.

On a larger piece of tracing paper, using the first diagonal in the smaller grid as a starting point to judge the correct angle, I draw a corresponding larger grid. If this was for an acrylic or to be transferred on to white paper, I would draw this grid lightly directly onto the paper. However, this picture is on green pastel paper and will be using Derwent Drawing pencils which unfortunately do not cover graphite even if it has been rubbed out thoroughly. So I had to use the large tracing paper and then draw in the basic outlines of the horse's head using the grid to place everything - remember those old puzzle books as a child where you had to draw the other half of a picture using a square grid?

I had to try an ancient method of transferring the outline - using a needle I made holes along each and every line.

The holey paper was then taped into the correct place on the pastel paper.

I then scraped a pastel into a small bowl in order to make some dust.

This pastel dust was then brushed through the holes using a fairly stiff hog hair paintbrush. At this point I remembered why I don't use pastels any more as my hands began to itch and my throat started to hurt and close up.

I lifted the paper very carefully and beneath was a pastel outline of the horse. I drew over this outline using a neutral ochre Derwent pencil.

With a soft brush, I dusted away the pastel residue and was left with......

...enough of an outline to then make the initial sketch of the horse, safe in the knowledge that everything was in the right place and in the right proportions.

This whole process took an hour and a half. Despite being very tedious, it is well worth it in the long run - better than getting a freehand sketch wrong, rubbing it out and making a mess on an expensive piece of paper!

Now I'm off to scrub my hands!


soggibottom said...

Wow !
Thanks Caroline.
I think I will, however leave it to you. I would still get it wrong.
:-) x x x

Sallie said...

No wonder your art work turns out so well. You are extremely patient and do it correctly. It was really interesting to see your methods.

Teje said...

Caroline, I like very much pastels and I'm waiting to see the horse ready. I love your paintings! Teje