Drawing the Strength of Bones and Folds of Flesh

Pastel drawing by Lea Colie Wight.
Pastel drawing by Lea Colie Wight.

At Studio Incamminati, it is not unusual for instructors or fellows who are not teaching a particular class to come in to draw or paint beside the students. This happened recently when Lea Colie Wight joined in a figure drawing class taught by Steven Early. (Lea is an incredible person, humble and so giving of her knowledge—she is also the recipient of a 2011 Certificate of Excellence, and 2010 and 2009 Honor Awards, from the Portrait Society of America.)

Steve’s drawing class was working in charcoal when Lea joined us, working in pastel. The model was more fleshy than many we have had, and presented challenges for me in maintaining the structure of the figure while at the same time capturing the rolls of flesh. I had had a similar model once at the Corcoran School and had the same issue.

When I asked Lea what she was attracted to in drawing this particular model, she said it was the actual interplay beween the strength of the model’s skeletal structure as compared to the folds of flesh and muscle.

The pastel is on a Sennelier pastel sanded board, approximately 18″ x 24″ and executed using hatching, as opposed to other methods of applying color such as texturing or blending. This allows for really dynamic optical color mixing in the drawing. See for yourself! Lea very quickly developed layers of color, never looking for that underlying color that “matches” the skin color. I regret that the photo of the image does not do justice to the vibrancy of the color she achieved. And she did it all in a few hours over two sittings.

Note the differences in skin color, especially obvious in the comparison between the left hand of the model and her right leg. The hand is quite red, but fades in to muted orange as it recedes into the distance, and the leg is bright but paler in the stronger direct light and in its lighter values. Of course I can’t help but mention the intensity of the reflected light that fills her back, especially as it relates to the more muted form shadow of the breast—related but so different.

Having seen both the model and the pastel, I think Lea captured the personality of the sitter both through structure, color, and the focus on the important forms. I feel like I was just bombarded with knowledge from all sides, but no complaints here! I can’t wait for her to join us again!



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