Saturday, October 29, 2011
The still life I'm trying is on medium tone grey scale paper which I bought because I am enamoured of the drawing technique called Trois Crayons, the three pencils being charcoal, sanguine and white chalk on grey or tan toned paper. The most renowned practitioner of this technique was Watteau.
But of course, it was used by all the great artists either as an art in itself or, more commonly, as a preliminary to painting.
Here is a trois crayon drawing of Sir Thomas Elyot by the greatest portrait master of all time, Hans Holbein.
Trois crayons is the drawing technique that most fascinates me. So far, I've been strictly using pencil to learn to see with. Went to a figure class this week and did pretty well with the proportions and whatnot, so that's coming along.
I also finished my third Bargue this week,
the side-view horse head. This took me about 50 hours all together.
This is Andrea's Bargue horse head from when she was a student at the Florence Academy. It shows how much this course is a handed-down tradition. I once found Picasso's version of a Bargue student drawing, the same one I was working on at the time. Mine was way better. Picasso always sucked.
(Pictured: not mine. Someone else's)
But the fourth class thing is going to be Bargue's Belvedere Torso in charcoal which I'll start on November 21 and work on for three classes until Andrea goes to Australia. I am greatly looking forward to it because I really need instruction in charcoal.
Skills with charcoal and sanguine are what you develop when you do the
trois crayon technique.
One of the main things I wanted at Zecchi in Florence was some chunks of pure sanguine that you can get almost nowhere else. They didn't have much left but the lady brought out a big plastic box that had several fist-size chunks and a whole lot of powder and little broken-off bits. I realise now I should have bought a big bag of the powder and little bits as well.
Pure sanguine - the batch I got at Zecchi has a nice pinkish glow - has some interesting properties, one of which is its great friability and smudginess. As I've been fooling about with the chunks, I've been trying several ways to use it. It blends beautifully. You can take a bit of it, sharpen with a knife and a piece of sandpaper, and use it straight on the paper getting a nice clean line. You can grate it on a cheese grater and mix the powder with water and use it as a kind of red ink that has very pleasing effects. You can apply the powder directly to the paper and blend it all over with a tissue or sponge to tone white paper.
I also picked up a couple of white chalk pastels which lay down a much thicker layer of white than either a conte or a white chalk pencil. White chalk pastel goes over top of other mediums and can be used right over top of charcoal, but someone out there in the art internet said that a little touch of gouache paint does the same thing only better and recommended touching up the chalk or pastel highlights once the drawing is finished. It also happens that I have a little tube of white gouache.
A while ago, enchanted as I am with what I now know is called Trois Crayon technique, I bought some big sheets of grey scale paper. With the Dramatic Tea Pot still life, I realised that it is going to be a perfect subject to do the three colours, the white linen table cloth and tea pot are white with grey shadows ideal for rendering in charcoal on a grey background, and the carved wood screen as background can be all done in various shades of sanguine.
We'll see how it goes.