I have always loved charcoal drawings. A few years ago, I came across a book
of charcoal figure drawings by Henry Yan , who was then an instructor at the Academy of
Art University in San Francisco. I immediately bought two copies of the book--one to keep in
my studio as a reference and one for my family room just so I could have it close. I spent several months looking at Yan's drawings and studying the essential drawing methods demonstrated throughout the book. I bought additional copies for friends in my studio art group so they could
enjoy them, too. I was totally captivated.
|Rose by Rob Goodman, charcoal drawing.
But this blog is not about figure
or even Henry Yan. It is about how a drawing can be so exceptionally
captivating that color is not a critical component at all! The still life charcoal drawing shown here was drawn by Rob Goodman, a former student and now
Fellow at Studio Incamminati. A joint effort of sorts, the still life was set
up by one of his fellow classmates, Peter Kelsey, who is now an instructor at Studio Incamminati as well
as a Fellow. Their collaboration produced Rose
, a still life drawing that captivated
me much the same way that some of Henry Yan's drawings do.
The drawing is featured on the Studio
Incamminati website and is described as "offering the advantages of a variety of forms, shapes,
surfaces, texture, placement in space, and relation to the background, all
vital issues in realism." Charcoal was the chosen medium because it is very painterly and
provides a bridge for an artist who is ready to move from drawing to painting. What draws me into the
piece is how deceptively simple
the design is and how it calls forth emotions in me every time I look at it. There
is something about the focal point--the rose coupled with pearls flowing from the low dish, and both of them catching the
light--that draws me in.
drawing uses multiple devices to guide the viewer through it, from focal point to focal point. The strongest may be the use of
diagonals. The diagonals extend from left to right, with a small thin book (and accompanying shadow) placed at the
left front edge of the picture plane to lead the viewer's eye to the pearls and, ultimately, to the rose bathed in light inside its small round
vase. There is a dark diagonal shadow on the wall behind
the vase, making the rose stand out even more.
In the other direction, the diagonal starts from the right foreground of the drawing with the fabric that is draped over the
dresser on which the still life sits. Its
folds go from right to left and extend back towards the rose.
The viewer "entering" the drawing
from the left-center finds yet another diagonal as the eye travels to the
pearls (the low point of the diagonal), then to the rose, and then to the glass cylinder,
which is the tallest object in the drawing and the high end of the diagonal excepting the background shadows.
In addition to strong diagonals, Peter
and Rob used an unequal division of light and shadow, with the light coming more
from the rear left of the tableau than the
front and the shadow running from back to front on a left to right diagonal.
A bit dizzying isn't it? But besides these signs of technical acuity, I
look at that drawing and find myself a voyeur imaging what the scene could possibly mean. Has a romantic evening just ended?
Has it not yet begun? I don't regularly find myself caught up in the narrative of a drawing but
in this case I really want to know what is happening. In short, I am
captivated! I hope you are too!