Continuing the saga of the green organic eggshells...
Last week I showed you several sketches I'd done of the eggshells by candlelight. Enjoyable as these sketches were, however, I had plans for a larger project. As I've mentioned before, I've always appreciated charcoal as a drawing medium. It's a forgiving, versatile one that is especially suited to such Caravaggesque effects as glowing light and dramatic shadows. Given the luminous nature of the sketches I'd been doing, charcoal seemed an obvious choice of medium. Charcoal is also conducive to creating images with a strongly three-dimensional nature, which suited my ruminations on the artificiality of appearances.
There are a variety of ways to make a charcoal drawing, but I often start by covering the entire sheet with charcoal and rubbing it in, giving the sheet a middle range of tonal value to which I can work in a both additive and subtractive fashion. For shadows, I draw more; for highlights, I erase.
Naturally Gustave was eager to help, perhaps a little too eager.
Once again employing the golden ratio, I drew the triangle and spiral that would guide the formal arrangement of the composition.
With this framework in place, I then drew in the eggs and drapes, with the swells of the fabric and arrangement of the eggs approximately following the spiral.
With the composition in place, it was a matter of adding and subtracting to create a balance of light and shadow. These was down over a few evenings.
As the drawing became more polished, it was time to add my invented fabric pattern. I've been combining charcoal and paint for some time now. In a lot of ways, it foreshadows my approach to printmaking, where I combine different techniques, such as monotype and drypoint, to create distinct visual effects.
The original shawl I used was woven with metallic threads, and I liked the way it glittered subtly in the candlelight. I keep a stash of Hershey's foils around for various projects, so I decided to take advantage of them and add a few flakes to the drawing. To attach them I cut the foil squares into minute pieces, daubed a little Modge Podge onto the tip of a wooden skewer, and then delicate picked up the flakes and placed them on the drawing, one at a time.
When I have to be, I can be very patient.
Not having worked in charcoal for a while, it was fun to experiment with it again. It's different from my more linear works, to be sure, but I always think it's good to work in a variety of media and styles.
For all the time I put into it, however, I don't consider this drawing to be the conclusion of this particular adventure. On the contrary, I've been researching mezzotint as part of my research for an upcoming exhibit at the RMAC on intaglio techniques, and am thinking that these good eggs would make an ideal subject for such a technique. Always it goes back to printmaking...