Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Charcoal and Pastel Drawing - Tinted Lillies

Tinted Lillies
Mark Nesmith
Charcoal on Paper
18" x 24"
Drawing has always been my fallback.  I spent my childhood filling pages of my schoolwork with pencil drawings, but I didn't discover charcoal until my first art class in college at Lamar University with Larry Leach.  I quickly fell in love!  Charcoal, and later pastels, became the bridge to painting for me.  It would still be a year later before I took up oil painting, but charcoal allowed for a painterly approach I hadn't known before.

One of my favorite things about charcoal is how you can push it around on paper.  A swipe with the palm of your hand or a tissue creates smudges, blurs edges, and can add atmosphere and subtletyb to a drawing.  Using an eraser to draw and carve back into the smudges of dark dust to pulls out highlights and allows you to add and subtract. All of this feels very much like the way oil paint responds, the scraping out and repainting and gradual build up of layers,  but without the brush (although I have used a brush with powdered charcoal too!)

This drawing of water lillies started out as a straight charcoal, then progressed through stages of smudging and erasing until much of the original drawing was little more than a ghost.  I then went back at the darker areas and defined some edges with charcoal before heightening the lights with white chalk.  Finally I added a bit of yellow and green pastel on the blooms and the pads.  I think the final result has a lot of the subtle shifts of edges I strive for in my paintings, and the alternating layers created by adding charcoal, blending and smudging areas, and subtracting and carving out lights with an eraser lends a kind of velvety patina to the surface.  I'm kinda digging it and have already started another similar piece.

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