Artist Daily Member Spotlight: Eileen
|Frank by Eileen Healy, pastel drawing.
I don't think any of you know how
often I brag about you and the great work you show off in the Artist Daily
Member Gallery. Recently I had several colleagues looking over my shoulder at
the computer screen as I showed them the work of Eileen Healy, who has posted
several drawings that caught my eye, and I wanted to share her work, thoughts,
and methods with you.
Artist Daily: What are your first memories of making art? Do you remember your
first drawing or painting?
Eileen Healy: I don't remember my first drawing but I remember being a very
eager artist in secondary school, drawing other students at their desks when I
should've been paying attention to the teacher. I guess that's why I was never
good at math, English, geography, history, biology...
Are you a full-time artist?
EH: In the sense
that I have a studio and I work most days. I'm also a working musician and
Your figural drawings often feature understated but engaging
compositions or arrangements and an interesting use of negative space. How do you arrive at compositions that work well?
never plan a pose before a session. Though this can add a sense of spontaneity,
it can be a hindrance when working against the clock when you have to pay a
model. As a result I make decisions quickly. A strong sense of composition
seems to come naturally to me. I think this has helped drawings I've done in my
sketchbooks. These are not plans for paintings as much as small-scale graphite works
in their own right. When I get 'blocked' I look at these and they help me
through and possibly influence a bigger work. Space plays a very important part
in my compositions. I dislike cluttered or busy work and my portraits are very
direct with very little or no background. I maximize the format often with the
figure, focusing on interesting angles and foreshortening.
|Imna by Eileen Healy, graphite drawing.
|Louise by Eileen Healy, pastel drawing.
You seem fearless in your use of color in your pastel drawings. Talk to
me about that.
||Erin by Eileen Healy, pastel drawing.
with color in pastel is something I've developed after many years of struggling
with the medium. When I first started, I only used two colors on tinted paper,
gradually introducing more colors and trying out different colored paper. I
mostly work on colored paper, as it's very effective when accentuating
highlights. I have also done pastel on white, which I enjoy, but it is more
difficult. Light influences color, which determines my color range. Also a
model's own skin color, especially in the shadows, affects the work. Using a
spotlight will create very rich colors in the shadowed areas, often with deep
blues and purples. I use small square Conté crayons, not
thick rounded ones as I find these hard to control and messy.
AD: What drawing
techniques are particularly important in your process?
EH: Never lean too
hard on your pencil or chalk unless you know what your doing. I'm a line person
so I rely heavily on this, varying the quality/thickness of line as I work.
This is dictated by the light source and its influence on edges. I don't have a
set process. Sometimes I work from the darkest parts to the lightest, leaving
the highlights 'til last. There's always a good buzz from that. I encourage my
students to do the same and to make compositional decisions before putting
pencil to paper. Work lightly at first. Measure up. Use constructions lines!
Are there any great resources or ideas for working that you can share?
EH: Anytime I go
abroad I try to source a life drawing session. I've done ones in San Francisco
and last year on a residency in New York I took part in many. It's good to work
in another environment outside the studio in a group and to mess around with
materials without the pressure of model cost. It gave me some great ideas and
influenced new work.
Looking at Eileen's work, I get a real
sense that she holds her drawings as something quite meaningful and dear to
her. But maybe that is what they evoke in me—and that is the power of drawing! I want my drawings to have the same power to pull out
reactions from others. I'm a long ways away, but our Drawing: The Complete Course special edition magazine has been just
what I've been looking for. It covers everything that I want, from fundamental
refreshers on drawing basic forms and shapes to learning the language of line
and how to use it, to looking at artists past and present who have done amazing
drawings. It is truly an "all-in-one" guide for me. Enjoy!