In The Studio: The Goldilocks Problem In Drawing

“Lappet-faced Vulture” Cretacolor Monolith pencil on Stathmore 400 cold press bristol

I’m sure there are artists out there who can happily grab whatever paper and drawing media they have at hand and get to it. I’m not one of them, at least not for my finished drawings that I will sell. And I’ve gotten pickier over the years. Every combination of paper and drawing media is different in feel, performance and result. Hence the comparison to Goldilocks. After a fairly major break for a variety of reasons, I’ve spent the last week or so getting back in the studio groove by revisiting a variety of combinations to see what is now “just right”.

I’m also planning to add human subjects back into to my oeuvre. It’s been awhile, so I collected a whole bunch of head shot photos from Google, many of movie stars because the lighting tends to be very good for revealing structure, dumped them into an Evernote and have started working from them, one feature at a time, starting with noses.

canson paper
Facial features: Derwent Drawing Pencil Venetian Red, Wolff’s Carbon Pencil 6B, Cretacolor Monolith Pencil 6B and Cretacolor Monolith Pencil, 4B on Canson Mi-Tientes drawing paper, smooth side. One thing I like about the darker toned papers in that you can come in with the lightest lights using a Prismacolor white pencil, as I did with the noses and the eye. This is a pretty typical work sheet for me. Nothing fancy, nothing at stake, just focusing on how the media feels on the paper, but also working to get the anatomy correct

I also worked on bits of other toned paper, but didn’t like what I ended up with. I do like the brown-tone though. I moved on to either white or off-white papers, mostly the two mentioned below.

A famous nose- Cretacolor Monolith pencil on Strathmore 400 cold press bristol
Two famous noses- Derwent Graphic pencils on Strathmore 400 cold press bristol

Both media worked well on the Strathmore, which has a fairly hard finish, but stiil with a bit of tooth. Back to animals….

Baboon- Cretacolor Monolith pencil on Rives BFK paper (which has been a favorite for awhile)
fox, gazelle
Bat-eared fox, Derwent Venetian Red Drawing Pencil and baby impala, Cretacolor Monolith pencil on cream-colored Rives BFK paper

The Rives BFK is quite soft in comparison with the Strathmore. One nice thing about it is that one can erase it. A lot. Without a trace.

I wanted to explore getting a very crisp line and also laying down a tone on the Rives BFK. As I expected, it passed wtih flying colors. I used the same pencils as mentioned above: Wolff’s Carbon Pencil for the hawk’s head and bird leg, Cretacolor Monolith for the murre, Derwent Drawing Pencil in Venetian Red for the yellowthroat and A Derwent Graphic pencil for the quick sketch of a pine siskin

The last one I did before writing this post is the drawing of the vulture at the top. It is available for purchase. Message me on my contact page for price.

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