Drawing Basics: Looking at "Study for Mirror (I Against I)" by Dan Thompson

David Jon Kassan comments on Dan Thompson's Study for Mirror (I against I).

Drawing by Dan Thompson, Study for Mirror (I Against I)
Study for Mirror (I Against I)
by Dan Thompson, graphite. Collection unknown.

This served as a study for a self-portrait.

Looking at Drawings: "Study for Mirror (I Against I)" by Dan Thompson

by David Jon Kassan

At first glance this drawing makes a strong impact through its abstract design of light and dark, which heightens its emotive quality. There is a nice richness in the darks, but it’s the drawing’s subtle transitions that are the key in this piece’s success—there’s a Seurat-like subtlety to it that draws us in. The background is beautiful—the white, abstract quality of the body funnels the viewer’s eye into the face of the subject.

The artist’s line work has an energy and movement to it that distinguishes him from other draftsmen, some of whom do not draw what they see, but instead force what they see into a style. Rather than get captured in this box, Dan Thompson draws what he sees with honesty.

Thompson appears to have created the form using additive and subtractive methods, the pencil’s graphite being the dark additive element and the subtractive results of an eraser being the light element. Note the radial transition strokes from the neck area into the white body—these strokes add to the drawing’s life through their movement up the page. Thompson uses the full motion of his arm and works quickly; he tries to get the energy of his arm movement into the drawing. Then he starts to build out the form from the white nothingness into the clavicle and up the sternocleidomastoid. This guides the viewer to the area of most importance and of greatest finish—the emotion and visage of the subject.

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