11 March 2014

Dreaming in an Open Place...and Andrew Wyeth's Process

Dreaming in an Open Place, 2014, 24x16", Charcoal on paper

Today's post is a drawing of my muse and daughter, Amanda.  Inspired by the art of Andrew Wyeth.  I stumbled on a book titled "Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures" at a friend's house about a year ago.  The book showed Wyeth's picture-making process for 35 different paintings of his muse, Helga Testorf...from concept sketches to finished work.  Interesting to see his preliminary ideas...how he flushed out the final compositions.  Wyeth's painting "Seated by a Tree", shown in that book, inspired the present drawing.

Wyeth's comment about this painting..."I think anything like that---which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone---people always feel is sad.  Is it because we've lost the art of being alone?"  I think the alone-ness in Wyeth's image is what appealed to me.  Artists know about being alone.  It's part of the creative process.  I view it as a positive, and hope that comes across in "Dreaming".
Seated by a Tree by Andrew Wyeth

Another strong influence for my piece...Julio Reyes' beautiful drawing "Stars Above".  Julio is a skilled and imaginative draftsman, painter and sculptor.  A large number of his drawings were included in his first solo show at Arcadia Gallery.  An encouraging trend for us artists who love to draw.

Regarding how I made "Dreaming in an Open Place"...

I used willow charcoal sticks on 90 lb. Stonehenge paper.  Willow makes a darker mark than vine charcoal. Fine details were laid in with Wolff's Carbon pencils. 

In between layers, I fixed the drawing with Lascaux Spray Fixative.  Doesn't say so on the can, but it is a very workable fixative.  Using a fixative like this stabilizes the very delicate charcoal layers and restores some tooth to the paper, allowing for those final dark accents. 

As I built up the layers, I masked areas of the drawing I wasn't working on with tracing paper to protect the surface.

The original graphite thumbnail.  
This is about 1/5th the size of the final piece. 

After roughing in the composition on the 24x16" Stonehenge paper, I used a cool little device called an Accurasee proportional divider to measure shapes and positions.  I don't like using transfer grids...the divider is a better alternative, imo. Check out the product website if you'd like to see how it's used.

Here is the progression for your interest...

"Dreaming in an Open Place" was entered into the 2014 International Portrait Society of America competition.  The PSA is taking more interest in drawings these days, which I applaud.  Leslie Adams' drawing, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, took the grand prize last year.