I have come to love the mysterious quality of the landscape around the area I live. This summer I started working on the South Land series, a body of work inspired by places I visit periodically in the Georgia and South Carolina low country. The natural resources here include marshes, beaches, swamps and woods. In this series, I am combining images from sketchbook drawings, and my photographs into narrative compositions. Always an avid reader, I find inspiration in literature and I believe the juxtaposition of figure and landscape creates a sense of story worth exploring.
Adriana Burgos, thumbnail sketches for “Fort”, graphite on paper
Today I am sharing some thumbnail sketches and a preliminary sketch for “Fort”. The thumbnails are about 3″ wide and were done with graphite in my sketchbook. The larger comp is roughly 15″ x 11″ done with sanguine pencil. Although the small graphite drawings were meant to be different ideas for a single piece, I intend to develop several finished drawings based on these. My main objectives here were to experiment with shapes in relation to the picture plane, placement of the elements, movement and depth. I was having fun with the effect of directional lines across the space. The orientation of the branches and tree trunks create a choreography of linear structure that I find striking.
Adriana Burgos 2016, “study for Fort”, sanguine on cream stonehenge paper,
The final pieces based on these studies will be large charcoal drawings. This is the ideal medium to continue my experimentations with value to create a sense of atmosphere. I hope to be posting progress soon!
The sketchbook is a great platform for media exploration. I was experimenting with ink wash this week, playing with warm and cool temperatures. This drawing was based on one of my quick karate sketches while observing my kids’ classes.
I love the immediacy and happy accidents that happen when drawing gesturally with ink. A lot of the warm against cool relationships of the drawing are mainly in the negative space surrounding the figure. For the background I applied brown, black and blue ink and let all the colors run into each other with wet into wet marks. After the wash drawing dried, I emphasized a few areas with white and blue chalk and black charcoal.
The end result is exciting and has inspired me to explore gestural drawings with ink wash more. Studies from the karate sketchbooks will be a great point of departure for more work like this.
Enter a caption
Adriana Burgos, Mixed media sketchbook study, 2016
“Ocean and sky study”, Adriana Burgos sketchbook study in oil pastels
Looking through my old camping journal, I found these studies done at Hunting Island South Carolina. The first is in oil pastel which is a very fun medium for a painterly approach. The format of the drawing is 5.5 x 8.5 so there is not much room for details and meticulous drawing when using the oil pastel. It was a cloudy summer day and the water was choppy.
The drawing below was done with water-soluble watercolor pencils by Derwent. I really liked this set of colored pencils because the colors were not too saturated. There was a good number of earth tones, and greys. Here I drew the landscape first and then quickly captured the figures of the kids through gesture drawing. The children in the drawing are my boys Nicolas and Felipe with Raquel from our adopted family in Savannah with whom we share great memories. I really like this piece as a study for a large drawing or painting. The great thing about sketchbooks is that you can revisit them and if a study stands the test of time it might be worth developing into a large piece.
“Kids on the beach” Adriana Burgos, sketchbook study in water-soluble colored pencils.
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.
“Movement Therapy in progress.
Therapist, corrected pose
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.
The 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.
“Movement Therapy” Adriana Burgos 2015, Charcoal and pastel on paper, 3.5″ x 6″
Life is fleeting, it goes by in a flash. I found some of my drawings of the boys from 2007, Felipe my youngest was just a baby and Nicolas must’ve been about 3 1/2. Now they are 9 and 12 and getting so big. Before I know it Nicolas will be as tall as me.
Adriana Burgos, 2007, Nicolas and Felipe Sleeping, sketchbook drawing
Adriana Burgos, 2007, Nicolas and Felipe Sleeping, quick gesture sketchbook drawing
Adriana Burgos, 2007, Nicolas Sleeping, sketchbook drawing
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about life stages and how age affects our body movements and gestures. These drawings of my kids’ early childhood contrast the ones I have been doing of my late father. The depiction of early life, late childhood, youth, midlife, old age is becoming really interesting to me. I remember back when I did the baby drawings of Nicolas I was afraid they were maybe too sentimental, but now I am so glad I did them and I see that work as part as a greater narrative.
Adriana Burgos, line gesture, karate sketchbooks, copic multi liner
Adriana Burgos, line gesture, karate sketchbooks, graphite
Adriana Burgos, line gesture, karate sketchbooks, copic multi liner
Adriana Burgos, line gesture, karate sketchbooks, copic multiliner and graphite
Here are four pages of quick gesture drawings done while I watched my boys’ karate class. While drawing these, the students were waiting for their turn to spar. I was focusing on capturing the various sitting poses and observing the movement of the spine, and the tilts of the skull, ribcage, pelvis and extremities in just seconds.
After completing these, I enjoyed the narratives that emerged from the children’s interactions. That is the great thing about sketching from life.
In this grouping there are graphite drawings as well as pen drawings. I find myself using fine pen more and more because I can rely on the point staying sharp when I am not interested in erasing. I have learned a lot from these studies, you can see some of the large drawings that have resulted from this practice by clicking the karate series sub menu under portfolio.
Last week I posted a single quick gestural drawing from the karate journals. This week I am sharing a study of multiple figures. I have found that the practice of quick gesture studies from life during my kids’ karate classes has given me the opportunity to explore composition and space. With no time to think, just look and record and this allows me to respond to the shapes and rhythms created by a room full of figures. I enjoy enhancing composition with light and dark and creating areas of emphasis by developing some figures more than others.
Adriana Burgos, gesture drawings from the karate journals.
Adriana Burgos 1 minute gesture sketchbook drawing from the karate journals
Today I share with you a single figure from my karate sketches. This is a gesture drawing done under one minute. The subject is a child in sparring gear, which includes, a helmet, gloves and shoes. I marvel at the balance and rhythms found in the human figure and never get tired of studying this through these observational sketches. In the torso, the spine has an “S” like movement; on the legs, the curvatures of the front of the thighs face the curves of the calves. All these lyrical movements add grace to the standing human form.
sketchbook gesture drawing
gesture drawing, sketchbook
gesture drawing sketchbook
Here are a few of my sketchbook pages from the karate journals. My boys have been going to karate for four years now and I started drawing from direct observation as practice while watching the class. Working from figures in constant movement forces me to pay close attention and take note of the poses in seconds. Careful observation, memory, an understanding of anatomical structure and gesture all come into play here. These studies allow me to explore composition in the picture plane as well as the human body in movement, thus enriching my visual vocabulary.