I’m using an A4 sketchbook for this, at least for the preliminary phase. I liked the effect of combining ink wash, pastel, and charcoal pencil so I’ve gone for that again. I sketched first with HB pencil then applied the other media as and when it felt right. This is the first sketch which I’ll probably leave as is. There are parts I like – the head angle for instance – and other parts that really didn’t work so well (the hands, a mess probably due to drawing each from a quick look at how they lie without the sketchbook.) Let’s call this Round One.
3rd August and I’ve broken into the white ink! Also made a second study but again struggled with the hands. Too large in the first, too small in the second. I think the second has better volume, my arms are seated more convincingly, and my chin seems raised in an improved line. Glad to find my glasses are still perched at a rakish angle!
I’m going to move onto the foreshortening exercise now because that will inform sketches such as this.
5th August and I’m coming back to this after a little bit of work on hands and a revelation regarding the benefits of drawing with my (very) non-dominant hand and no glasses.
Compare these two hands:
The one on the left is my right hand as drawn by my left (and it’s also the best of the batch) while the one on the right is my left hand as drawn by my undisciplined right with unaided visual input. [I seem to have jumped a day too – it really is still the 5th!]. The right handed sketch seems much more loose and about form and volume than the other, less contrived and forced into a shape it somehow doesn’t quite fit because its flow is wrong. This must be due to having largely gross rather than fine motor control of my right hand, and very little capacity to see detail without lenses.
I decided to revisit the longer study (although choosing outdoors was a mistake as it rapidly became too hot to remain there) and took my mirror into the garden.
For me, this has the looseness and lack of constraint by detail that I like and, as a sketch – scaffolding if you like, I think it does the job of placing the figure onto the page without forcing it into the ‘right’ positions. Because of the heat, I have had to bring it indoors to be completed and I’m thinking of trying to maintain my right handed effort with inks and water.
That didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I lost the simplicity and fluidity, also some of the shapes. It’s become static and lumpy.
6th August. I was tempted to give that a gesso onceover and see what could be done to redeem it, but I went for another loose sketch instead. Right handed again. Whatever else I’m discovering in this process, I’ve found out that my right hand can be usefully pressed into service and makes a reasonable (sometimes better) job of the task.
Research point: foreshortening in a mirror. Not for the first time have I encountered the problem of drawing myself with hands that are necessarily on the move. I’ve ‘edited’ the sketchbook out.