Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Oak Citadel

Oak Citadel (Charcoal, charcoal and coloured Conte on A3 cartridge)
It's been my intention for some time to try to work on drawings outside which are bigger than sketchbook size. Oddly enough, although I've done it in the less agreeable surroundings of Newcastle, I've never really attempted it in the countryside.
This time I went prepared. I had with me a Mapac bag containing an A3 pad of Winsor & Newton Medium Surface cartridge paper and all manner of drawing stuff - charcoal, compressed charcoal, pencils, pastels and coloured Conte. And a new can of fixative. The fixative is really important to my working method. I spray as often as is necessary, rubbing down elements of the current drawing and spraying again, until there develops a crystalline tooth to the drawing.
Despite my preparedness, I still didn't achieve what I set out to do. Mainly because I hadn't prepared myself for something outside my control - the wind. The thing about little pieces of charcoal, Conte sticks and the packs they come in, is that they're very light. So a great deal of my time was taken up with rushing about retrieving materials and generally cursing the elements.
I know it's a poor workman who blames his tools, but I also found that my choice of medium surface cartridge was a mistake - I really don't like the rather mechanical tooth it's been prepared with. Maybe the other side would have been better for my purposes, but smooth would have been best of all.
Anyway, after a considerable time cursing and grunting, a black cloud came and threatened me and I was forced to give up. So the drawing as it stands lacks a certain definition in the trees. The trunks don't seem to have sufficient body and even the rocks are a little anaemic. I do like the way the shadows of the branches are cast over the rock face, however: something I would find difficult to invent because even standing in front of them, I couldn't figure out which branch was casting which shadow.
I may return to it in the studio when the time is right.


marja-leena said...

Really like these drawings you've been posting the last while! Interesting what one does 'plein air' compared to studio work, eh. Haven't done that in many years, since I turned to photography, but seeing these almost gives me the itch.

Mr Zip said...

Thanks, marja-leena. It's certainly a different experience, but the jury is out on how much I relish doing it again. But I expect when next year's trip to the Lakes or wherever rolls round again, I'll be out there cursing, smudgy fingers flying.