Part 2, Project 4, exercise 2


Building on yesterday’s ’round the house’ sketches, it wasn’t difficult to find an area that seemed to lend itself to framing a composition as it’s already framed. This drawing (white charcoal on pink sugar paper) focused largely on the sofa as I could see it through the doorway, but there are so many doorways, like a hall of mirrors (and with a mirror on one wall too), forming a dark tunnel towards the front room. They nest and parallel each other with shades of shadow and spots of light from glass and door knobs. I used black conte on whatever paper I came up against in my sketchbook (I’d glued some folded sheets of sugar paper into it a while ago to force my hand). This felt like a compromise between charcoal which smudges easily (and it would as I turned pages), and pencil which often now seems quite hard and shiny when I’m trying to loosen my grip on things.


The one below on the left was the first shot and it tells me a lot about ‘first drafts’ – it’s tight and aiming for being somehow right. There’s no life in the marks and no variation in the tone. The one on the right feels better; I’d moved closer to get a different view and the sofa and chair have come out quite well. All that framing by all those doorways is lot though so it’s a pretty boring image as compositions go.


So many doorways! At least the marks are livening up a bit here, and I’m quite chuffed with the white space of the sofa and chair.


Why do I like these two so much more than the others, though? Is it the lines that almost turn the furniture into ghosts – especially in the second drawing? The fact I resisted filling them with shading so they look like ordnance survey maps? Perhaps looking at Shiele’s work has had a subliminal influence. His lines are superb – sparing but hugely descriptive, although I have reservations about what he describes with them.



A point just occurring to me is that I had, effectively, to draw in the dark in order to appreciate the impact of that tunnel of doorways. Also, without close vision glasses as these would have made little difference in shadow. Maybe this was verging on what I see people calling ‘blind contour drawing’ which, according to Wikipedia, requires the artist to draw without looking at the paper. While I don’t buy into the rationale (some of it neuropsychological which dates from the 1940s and doesn’t stack up now), it certainly reduced my practice of fiddling with detail.  And it deals with the drive for perfectionism which has its place but maybe not in a sketchbook.




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