Progress on large format drawing

I had a blog post prepared narrating progress on my drawing and I did not get to post it while I was working things through. Now the drawing is completed and has been in exhibition at the faculty show for a couple of weeks. It was so energizing to work at a large scale!

I would still like to share what I wrote as I worked on the piece back in August since the process was the focus of the post.

“I’ve been back in the studio working on the “Physiotherapy session” drawing. I have drawn and re-drawn the two figures several times now and love the effect that this restating has on the drawing. The first correction I made on the piece was the pose of the therapist (figure on the right). I felt that the pose was too rigid, not graceful enough. Although static, a standing pose is powerful and can have a  lot of movement. I set out to adapt the figure so that it helped my composition and counteracted with the stiffness of the figure to the left (my dad). This took working from memory and imagination because I was getting away from the reference image.

In the decision-making of how to adapt the pose I looked at some old masters’ drawings. I was particularly looking at the work of Jacopo Pontormo whose work shows powerful gestures and graceful figures. His exaggerated contrapposto and angle shifts in the joints helped me improve the pose for the therapist. I emphasized the forward tilt of the ribcage and backward tilt of the pelvis and changed the position of the legs to add more angles. These subtle shifts really helped the movement in the image.

detail progressThe next session I set out to re-draw the figure of my dad. I was happy with it originally, then I re-drew and the figure lost its original stance, so I went back and corrected. I am still indecisive as to how much I want to show the movement of the different exercises. Looking back at last week’s stages I really respond to the pose where he is holding his hands above his head and would like to show this a little more…

Working on the poses themselves has commanded my attention, but so has the over all composition of the piece. I am working on simplifying the value patterns, at times they seem patchy to me. I am looking for a nice flow and a simplicity to add solidity and power. To work through this, I printed the drawing at one stage and drew into it, exploring different value options on a small-scale. In regards to materials, I introduced some grey and white pastel to show build up some surface on the lighter values.”

Now that the drawing is finished I must say I really enjoyed working large and the constant erasures and corrections. Once I finally decided on the gestures of the figures, I spent a lot of time working the surface of the space around the figures. I loved  manipulating the values to fade and pull out different portions of the figure.   This is only the first of a series of large format drawings. The challenge will be finding storage and ways to exhibit such large pieces, but it will definitely be worth the trouble.

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