This was the first project of my Drawing III class at Cornish. It's referred to as the "Scale Jump" assignment - we are given a small object (in this case a shell melongena corona
, about an 1.5 inches in diameter) and have to blow it up to a gigantic charcoal drawing.
The final size of this piece (including both panels) is about 3 feet square. It's executed primarily in compressed charcoal, with additional graphite linework still visible in some areas. I knocked out the background of each panel and added a vellum-like backing - this way whenever their displayed, the composition absorbs some of the background tone or texture (I like using translucency to integrate things with their environment). It took FOREVER to draw.
Charcoal isn't really my medium to begin with, I have a really difficult time getting it to behave with any regularity. It's not a fault of the qualities of charcoal itself (of course) it's just a matter of practice and expertise, I haven't really used charcoal enough to get a feel for it. If you look closely, most areas of this drawing are rendered as you would with graphite, hatched and lined - only rarely to I get into really smooth surface textures.
Part of the challenge with this (in terms of technique) was that the structure of the shell is complex in its own right, but with the added intensity of texture it became really difficult to discern form. One of the big goals of this was to make sure that the form was still visible even while all those striations remained a focal point. On top of that, I wanted to include slight depth-of-field blurring (this is most apparent on the left panel), which is tricky to render in any medium. The last hurdle was the apparent balance between rough course texture on the spines and smooth marbled texture between them.
This assignment spanned about five classes and two weeks. Before executing the final drawings we did two series of sketches. The first was just to understand the shell, find it's interesting facets, structure, form as an abstract object (I might post a few of these in scraps). The second series was more compositional, determining perspective, scale, and cropping. I decided on multiple split panels because I found multiple aspects of it fascinating. I wanted to focus both on the intricate detailing and linework in the spines (the way that they are formed from multiple folds of shell) as well as the overarching spiral structure. Next was photographing the subject in the determined composition in different lighting scenarios. I opted for a balance between strong directional with some ambient fill. The penultimate step was to create a ¼ scale drawing of the final version
After that it was just a matter of sketching it out on the full-size paper and beginning the rendering process!
To me this project was wonderfully instructional and inspirational, just in how ordered the preparatory work was. We were forced to really gain an intimate understanding of our subject before attempting to fully render it. This meant overcoming all of the drawing challenges before doing anything final. For me this meant discovering a formula for drawing the shell accurately from scratch, and a means of seeing the underlying form. It was also an opportunity to do some tests with the medium and determine how to use it for the textures required In retrospect it makes perfect sense, but I never thought of using studies so exhaustively before.The final drawing was scanned in twelve parts (six for each panel) and composited together. I decided to leave some of the rough color from the scan in place (though desaturated) as the charcoal has a natural warmth to it that doesn't come through so well when scanning. Minor curves and leveling to retain original value levels - no spot corrections/replacements or cleaning of smudges.Tools :
1. Heavy Weight Soft Paper (37" × 50" cut-down)
2. General's Charcoal Pencils (2B + 4B)
3. Kneaded + Art Gum Eraser
4. Exacto Knife (#12)
5. Grafix DURA-LAR Matte Film (Mylar)
6. Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT
7. EPSON Expression 10000XL- Graphic Arts Scanner
8. Adobe Photoshop CS5.5 (Stitching)Music :
"Runaway" - Yeah Yeah YeahsTime :
Beacon (Deluxe Version) - Two Door Cinema Club
"All the Same to Me" + "Whatever You Like" - Anya Marina
"You Stayed at Home" - Only Son
1. Observational Sketches - 5 hrs
2. Composition Thumbnails - 3 hrs
3. Photography - 2 hrs
4. Scale Drawing - 1.5 hrs
5. Final Drawing - 15 hrs