"Drawing" Magazine Cover Competition Winners

11 Sep 2008

Rose Rossina's Apple charcoalWe chose 10 finalists for our Drawing Magazine Cover Competition—and then easily named William Rose the winner, as he best showcased the skill level and imagination of our readers.

View the winners of the Watercolor magazine 2008 cover competiton. Winners of the American Artist cover competition will be announced in the October issue.

The Winner William Rose

Rose Rossina's Apple charcoal
Rossina’s Apple
by William Rose, 2007, charcoal on museum board, 28 x 20. All artwork this article collection the artist unless otherwise indicated.

Most of Kansas artist William Rose’s noncommissioned work is figurative, with a focus on what he calls “the seemingly perpetual expressiveness of the female face.” His choice of subject matter is usually intuitive. “I see a face, a figure, a picture, or a location, and something detonates inside me,” the artist explains. “An idea sparks, and I’m compelled to go with it. I know I’m on the right track when it becomes impossible to express in words what I hope to convey on paper. But ultimately, it’s the light that grabs me. My attraction to this subject was her eyes—perfect light and intense, expressive eyes. My hope was to create a charcoal interpretation of the subject that the viewer would find difficult to look away from—compelling, tangible emotion.”

Like many artists today, Rose works from either life or photographs, or a combination of the two. “Although I enjoy working from life more than from photos, there are many instances where working from life is not possible,” he says. “Personally, I believe that you should only work from photos if you understand the limitations of photography.” Rossina’s Apple was completed from a photograph. “The look in her eyes was one of those elusive, momentary expressions that are very difficult, if not impossible, to capture from life,” the artist says.

Rose says his love of charcoal stems mostly from a passion for all things black and white—drawings, paintings, photos, movies. “When produced well, black-and-white images often feel more dramatic—and more real—to me than similar images in color,” he says. The artist uses most types of charcoal, from vine and willow to compressed, as well as pencils and occasionally powdered or crushed charcoal. He prefers Conté pencils from France for their smooth, waxy feel. For papers, he currently favors heavy-ply Strathmore museum and illustration boards.

Rose On the Fence Line charcoal Rose 210 Riverfront charcoal
On the Fence Line
by William Rose, 2007, charcoal on Mylar, 38 x 28. Private collection.
210 Riverfront
by William Rose, 2007, charcoal on Mylar, 38 x 26.

Rose typically begins with a very light charcoal or graphite sketch of the subject, indicating the larger shapes without much detail. He continues with charcoal, usually beginning with the eyes if they are the focus. “I like to get the eyes and the surrounding area to a nearly completed state because it generally provides me with the range of values I stick with for the remainder of the drawing,” he says. Rose used to work flat on a table, but he now enjoys drawing at an easel, particularly when doing larger pieces. “It helps prevent smearing and gives me the ability to view the work in progress from a distance, which I find essential,” he says.

When Rose first discovered charcoal, he used it for loose sketching. “Then I began to love charcoal, and soon the sketches became drawings and then the drawings became larger and heavier,” he recalls. “The process started to feel more like painting than drawing as I used my fingers, hands, and just about anything else within reach to apply the charcoal. In this way, I discovered the seemingly unlimited variety of tones and textures that are possible by combining different types of charcoal and other media, and my relationship with charcoal was sealed.”

For more information, e-mail the artist at williamrose@gmx.com, or visit his website at www.williamroseart.com.

Schumacher Whiskey Mountain Cowboy colored pencil
Whiskey Mountain Cowboy
by Lynda Schumacher, 2006, colored pencil, 14 x 13½.

Lynda Schumacher
Although she has lived all of her life in the Midwest, Michigan artist Lynda Schumacher has always been intrigued with the people of the American West, as well as with Native American cultures. Schumacher says her husband’s Western photography often inspires her artwork. “I am drawn to subjects with whom I feel some type of emotional connection,” she says. “I love the textures that are an inherent part of the Western lifestyle: lined faces, worn leather, a horse’s mane, or a denim jacket, to name a few. For Whiskey Mountain Cowboy, I was captivated by the tired but thoughtful quality of the cowboy’s downcast profile.” After a 20-year career in social work, Schumacher started to pursue art seriously about three years ago. She says this drawing was the first fully saturated colored pencil piece she had executed up to that time, and it taught her a tremendous amount about handling the medium.

For Schumacher, it’s very important to be technically correct. “I want an image to look like that person, to capture whatever it is about them that I found engaging in the first place, and to create textures that look as if one could touch them,” the artist says. She usually layers from dark to light, frequently spending long periods of time meticulously working out areas of detail. She employs a combination of Prismacolor, Derwent Coloursoft, and Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils, in addition to creating pieces solely in graphite. Schumacher generally uses Uart sanded pastel paper for colored pencil work because she prefers the level of tooth it provides.

For more information, e-mail the artist at lynda_schu@yahoo.com, or visit her website at www.lyndaschumacher.com.

Wise Gratitude charcoal
by Tom Wise, 2007, charcoal, 30 x 24. Private collection.

Tom Wise
For this commissioned piece, Virginia artist Tom Wise took several trips to the subject’s home, first to meet her and her siblings and later to work on the drawing. “I knew from experience that the challenges of sitting would probably be too great for such a young subject, let alone the dog,” Wise recalls. “So I took many digital images and adjusted them in Photoshop. I then drew from the computer screen using Photoshop to compensate for the limitations of the photographs.”

To create this drawing he worked on hot-pressed watercolor paper, using various charcoal sticks and pencils attached to the end of paintbrush handles with masking tape. He also applied charcoal dust with a paintbrush. “I have a deep sense of the limitations of my ability to express the vitality and beauty of what I see, and I always say a private prayer that my work may come up to my own standards,” the artist says. “I wish to create something that may be appreciated by others both now and in the future.”

For more information, e-mail the artist at tomjwise@aol.com, or visit his website at www.tomwise.com.

Mau-Kun Yim
Mau-Kun Yim created this piece for a television series on drawing, using one of his students as the model. “We went together to pick out clothes and accessories for the drawing,” Yim recalls. “Including the model’s opinions on accessories contributed to the success of this work.”

Yim Lady With a Pitcher charcoal
Lady With a Pitcher
by Mau-Kun Yim, 2006, charcoal, 16¾ x 11?.

The artist says he used Fabriano Ingres drawing paper because he wanted to produce a very dark tone. “This brand of paper is extremely solid,” he says. “You can create a very dark tone by applying pencil and charcoal to it numerous times. It’s also appropriate for my drawing style because I like to create many subtle tones and shades. In addition to making sure a drawing has the right proportion, size, perspective, space, and texture, I often seek to present the same richness of color and texture of an oil painting, only in black and white.”

Yim believes in starting with the big picture, building a comprehensive structure for the drawing before going into details. “I pay attention to details, but do not necessarily depict every single thing in great detail,” he says. “Rather, I feel the rhythms in details and then ‘translate’ them to a variety of strokes to bring the work to life.”

For more information, e-mail the artist at iris_usc@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.yimaukun.com.

Lucas Graciano
California artist Lucas Graciano started Mr. Emry as a demonstration in a head-drawing class he taught. The students drew from the model for four consecutive weeks. Each week Graciano worked at home on his demonstration and showed the new phase of the drawing to the students in the next class.

Graciano Mr. Emry graphite
Mr. Emry
by Lucas Graciano, 2007, graphite, 14 x 11.

For Graciano, the most important phase of a drawing or painting is working out the placement and proportions of the shapes. He spends as much time as necessary making sure his drawing feels structurally accurate before moving on to rendering. “After I am comfortable with the placement, I like to start in a focal area and establish my darkest dark,” Graciano says. “This gives me a full value range to work with, from my darkest dark to the light value of the paper. Next, I bring the focal spot near to completion, which gives me a way to judge the rest of the drawing. Then it’s about putting in the hours to get the drawing finished!”

Graciano says he finds photographs useful. For a complicated piece with many figures, he will sometimes use multiple photos. “You might get a hand that looks great in one photo and a head tilt or something in another,” the artist says. “I pick and chose which elements to include and which to leave out. However, I think that working from life is crucial to filling in the blanks when using photos. Photos tend to flatten the subject matter. I rely on my experience with life drawing to better describe an area in a photo that may not be clear.”

For more information, e-mail the artist at lucasgraciano@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.lucasgraciano.com.

Kate Sammons
“This drawing was conceived a bit like Frankenstein’s monster,” Pennsylvania artist Kate Sammons recalls. “I was thinking about the artist’s role in bringing life back from the dead. Sympathy and curiosity made me want to breathe life into a collection of inanimate objects. I think I succeeded, if just for a little while.” The artist worked from a setup in a half-shadow box with her drawing placed beside it. According to Sammons, the drawing developed in three distinct stages: first as a line drawing or cartoon; then as a composition of shapes and value relationships; and finally as a detailed description of her subject and her personal aesthetic. She spent approximately 240 hours working on it from start to finish.

Sammons In Search of Lost Time charcoal
In Search of Lost Time
by Kate Sammons, 2007, charcoal, 25 x 20. Courtesy Atlanta Art Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia.

Compared to artists who focus on capturing the moment, Sammons says her process is thoughtful, slow, and meticulous because she focuses on capturing the soul, or essence, of her subject. She chooses her subject matter based first on what she finds visually interesting and second on what challenges her. She buys archival materials; currently that means Canson paper with General’s charcoal pencils, mostly 6B and white. To translate a three-dimensional image to a two-dimensional surface, she relies on sight-size drawing, squinting, and comparative measuring. She believes her technique of layering and mixing compressed black-and-white charcoal together allows her to create a wide range of values and to build up the surface for a smooth and refined finish.

Sammons spends a long period of time observing her subject under a controlled light source in her studio. “I believe that working from life gives me greater freedom to explore the dynamic between the way I see my subject and its actual appearance,” she says. She never uses photographs as a primary means of reference, but she will sometimes use a photo to help her remember the basic values she wants to adhere to or to help her focus on a particular area. “Sometimes I will use a photograph the way I would use a map: to point me in the direction I need to go,” she says.

For more information, visit the artist’s website at www.katesammons.com.

Devin Cecil-Wishing
“I took this drawing a lot farther than I had originally intended,” says California artist Devin Cecil-Wishing. “It was going to be a preliminary study for a painting, but I sort of got sucked into the process and kept going with it.” Cecil-Wishing created the piece on Canson Mi-Teintes toned paper. He usually begins by lightly blocking in all of the darker shapes in charcoal. Next, with a very light touch, he blocks in the lighter areas using white chalk, leaving bare paper for the in-between areas. He then works outward in both directions, making the lighter areas lighter and the darks darker.

Cecil-Wishing Self-Portrait With Django charcoal chalk
Self-Portrait With Django
by Devin Cecil-Wishing, 2007, charcoal and chalk on toned paper, 26 x 19.

When working with charcoal and chalk, Cecil-Wishing generally likes to build up layers gradually. “I’ll hold my pencil way at the back to get a very light touch and very slowly build up my lights and darks almost like glazes on a painting,” the artist says. “Also, I sharpen my pencil into a very long, sharp point so that it’s almost like working with a brush. This way I can work with it at different angles than I could with a shorter, blunter point.”

Cecil-Wishing tries to avoid using photographs. “The more I work directly from life the more I’m able to see the limitations of photographs,” he says. “That being said, anyone who’s ever had a pet rat knows that you can’t get them to sit still for a second. Normally I would be tempted to find a taxidermy specimen to work from, but since this was meant to be a portrait of my pet rat and not just any rat, I drew him from a photo. I drew myself just looking in the mirror with no photographic aid, which is the way I prefer to work.”

For more information, e-mail the artist at d@devincecil-wishing.com, or visit his website at www.devincecil-wishing.com.

David Hardy
The founder and director of The Atelier School of Classical Realism, in Oakland, California, David Hardy created this piece as a preliminary drawing for a portrait painting. “Carla, who was one of my students at the time, is strikingly beautiful,” Hardy says. “I purposely posed her so that her beautiful neckline and the thrust of her head became part of the composition, acting as counterpoint to the soft backward sweep of her hair.”

Hardy Preliminary Drawing for Portrait of Carla charcoal and chalk
Preliminary Drawing for Portrait of Carla
by David Hardy, 2006, charcoal and chalk, 25 x 19.

For this drawing Hardy chose materials that were popular in the 18th century: charcoal and chalk. He used a medium-tone Canson Michelet paper with a General’s charcoal white pencil, a General’s 4B charcoal pencil, and a Ritmo 3B charcoal pencil. Like many artists, Hardy lets the tone of the paper serve as one of his values. He then uses chalk to describe anything lighter than the paper and charcoal for anything darker.

For more information, e-mail the artist at dnshardy@yahoo.com.

Lea Colie Wight
New Jersey artist Lea Colie Wight takes the same approach to drawing as she does to painting. She starts with an energized gesture and builds on it, always moving from the general to the specific. She looks for the largest lines of movement through the figure, the largest planes, and the largest masses of shadow and light, slowly drawing her focus in closer and closer. Wight regularly stands back to scan the drawing, making sure it holds together as a whole. “I try to focus on the large planes of the form even as I try to articulate the beautifully subtle passages revealed by the play of light over the form,” she says. “If the foundation is strong and you keep reading the drawing as a whole, squinting to make sure your values are in the proper place, you can add the details without making the drawing look fussy or broken up. I need to work with freedom, moving things around, simplifying and then restating rather than working carefully without much erasing.”

Wight Life Study Conté
Life Study
2005, Conté, 23 x 17. Private collection.

Wight drew this piece from life in about 20 hours at Studio Incamminati, in Philadelphia, where she paints and teaches. The model, who calls himself Tree, is a favorite subject. Artist Ted Seth Jacobs was conducting a workshop at the time and several instructors, including Wight, took advantage of the opportunity to work along with the class. She used Conté pencil, occasionally sharpening the pencil on a sanding block. “I used a stump in the shadow masses to unify the value and to simplify areas that I had overdeveloped, going back over areas with the Conté pencil to rearticulate them,” she says.

For more information, e-mail the artist at leawight@yahoo.com, or visit her website at http://mainstreetgallery.com/leawight.html.

Mark Meichelbock
Mark Meichelbock’s primary concern is to capture the quality of light in his artwork. The California artist often uses window light, which he admires in the work of Vermeer. He also tries to establish a feeling of quiet elegance. “I think that mood and quiet feeling are achieved through the quality of light and the subtlety of the edges,” he says. “In addition, the model’s pose and gesture are important to help create a feeling of elegance.” Meichelbock mostly does figurative work using female models, but the sitter for this drawing was a longtime friend, actor Ron Harper. “The ideal situation is to work from life, but that’s not always possible,” Meichelbock says. “I think a good approach is to begin a study from life, then finish it later from a photograph.”

Meichelbock Portrait of Ron graphite
Portrait of Ron
2007, graphite, 20 x 16. Private collection.

Meichelbock usually draws with graphite or charcoal on Strathmore 500 charcoal paper, which has a slight grain that gives the pencil work a unified feel. He sometimes uses CarbOthello pencils on gray-toned paper. He sharpens his charcoal pencils with a single-edge razor blade to create a long, thin shape, drawing with the side of the lead as if he were painting in oil with a brush.

Meichelbock began this study by blocking in the shapes with an H graphite pencil. He then used a B graphite pencil, only introducing two values at this point: the value of the paper and an average shadow value. He proceeded to go darker, adding reflected light and working his way back to the light areas, which he indicated with subtle value increments using a light halftone. For the darker accents he used a B charcoal pencil. “You can only go so dark with graphite before it leaves an undesirable sheen and glare on your drawing,” Meichelbock says. “But I kept the charcoal to a minimum so as not to take away from the overall simplicity of the study."

For more information, visit the artist’s website at www.markmeichelbock.com.

View the winners of the Watercolor magazine 2008 cover competiton. Winners of the American Artist cover competition will be announced in the October issue.

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+ Add a comment


Pierre Béliveau wrote
on 13 Aug 2008 10:07 AM
Is there a good artist or a good photographer behind the Rossina’s Apple ? For "those elusive, momentary expressions", maybe the photo is better than this very impressive photo-quality rendering ... Pierre Béliveau
Penny Everhart wrote
on 29 Aug 2008 5:42 AM
Such talented individuals. The artist above have done a remarkable job with charcoal and pencil. Congratulations to them all!
Paul Benavidez wrote
on 12 Sep 2008 11:18 PM
Does any of the jurists for these competitions know the difference between and life study and a simple study derived from a photograph? Just curious. I rather doubt they do based on what I am seeing as the winners.
Sesso wrote
on 22 Jan 2009 1:33 AM
Great site.