Study for “Discovery”


Adriana Burgos, Study for “Discovery”, Sanguine on paper 2016

On my last post, I shared some thumbnail sketches and a longer study for “Fort”. My featured drawing today  is titled “Discovery” and it is another comp based on the thumbnails. This was done with sanguine pencil on cream-colored Stonehenge paper.

I love working in sanguine, the warmth of the red-brown fascinates me and I like the way it ties in with art history. In this particular study I built values mainly with layers of line beginning with one directional diagonal hatching and then changing the direction of the marks on top layers.

Many of my favorite drawings by old masters are done with red chalk and I have great admiration for work created with this medium by Raphael Sanzio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Jacopo Pontormo. I study the work of the old masters because of the rich draftsmanship in their work and their grasp of visual storytelling. Below are some links to wonderful websites (the met museum one of my favorites) with great drawings the old masters mentioned.

Story has always been a great inspiration for me, currently I am working with narratives based on the interaction of people with natural environments. It feels great to see how my sketchbook drawings and photographs from numerous visits to state parks in and around coastal Ga, are influencing recent work in the studio.

Idea development sketches for “Fort”

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!

A large format drawing in progress

After a busy academic year, I had the opportunity to recharge in June and July spending time with the family, catching up on reading and having fun in the sun. Now totally refreshed and with the boys back in school, I am back in my studio taking full advantage of some much-needed uninterrupted work time before fall quarter comes around.

I decided to begin working on large format drawings. During graduate school, I worked this way and really enjoyed the opportunity to be expressive and the impact of the scale so I am resuming that practice. Last week I prepped a 3. 5″ x 6″ paper and this week I started laying out the forms.  I normally clip or staple my paper to a board so that is what I did here. The first step was to cut down the paper a littler larger than the intended dimensions of the drawing. For this piece, I am working on multimedia paper from a roll. Many art supply stores sell rolls of paper or have a roll that you can have them cut to your preferred size. Using artists’ tape I created a border at the top and bottom to allow for several options for display later.

I am adding and subtracting marks so after setting up the paper on the board, I layered it with willow charcoal (you can also use vine) to create a base of mid-tone value. I prefer either of these charcoal sticks for this stage because of the softness of the gray and the workability of the medium (easily erasable). For such a large drawing, the best thing is to use the thick charcoal sticks for the base tone. I don’t mind if this initial layer is not perfectly even, since I anticipate heavy layering during the drawing process.

Thumbnail sketch and gestures

First I planned the composition carefully through thumbnail sketches, then I translated my image to the paper once again using  willow charcoal for easy correction. This drawing is part of a series about movements of the body, the subjects here are my father who suffered from PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy) for ten years and his physical therapist during a session. I want to show the stiffness of my dad’s body and the importance of simple movements that because of his condition he was progressively losing. When these therapy sessions were taking place he could no longer walk without assistance.

WIP01As you can see here, there are many construction lines to analyze alignments. Although my preference is to work from observation or memory, in this case I have photos for reference. I will compensate for the flatness of the image by drawing volumetrically and by visualizing the skeleton under the figures. For beginners, the most beneficial practice when developing drawing skills, is to work extensively from direct observation to gain an understanding of form and space. With a solid understanding of these concepts artists can go on to create convincing images using many resources later.

WIP02Once I worked out the proportions and planes of the figures, I set out to lay out the basic value patterns It is important to establish a strong over all design before focusing on details. In this case I want value (the lights and darks), to bring emotion to the piece and create points of emphasis. I approach my drawings with the mindset that there is still room for change in every stage, but mapping things out from the general to the specific is extremely important for the process and allows for important decisions early on.

With the main value shapes down, I introduced compressed charcoal for denser layers and more permanent marks. Compressed charcoal can include charcoal sticks and charcoal pencils. Due to the size of the drawing, I have not been using the charcoal pencil.  For the lights, I am erasing with a chamois cloth and white plastic eraser.

At the moment I am working on creating a sense of movement in the figures and have drawn and erased the pose of the figure to the left (my dad) several times, to show the exercises. I am also considering doing this on the figure of the therapist. Below are some of the changes the drawing has gone through. I’ll be working on the piece more this week and will be posting progress. For the different poses, I drew lightly with compressed charcoal so that I could rub it off but still keep the pentimenti (the traces of the drawing). With willow charcoal, the marks would’ve disappeared.

This drawing is still in its initial stages, I will be posting about the progress next week. Time to go into my studio now. Thanks for stopping by.