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Life in Two Passes

When I was visiting Magnus last week, I joined the weekly life drawing session he attends at Penrallt Baptist Church on Wednesday afternoons. He has been going for a few months (building up a nice portfolio of work) and has drawn the afternoon’s model, Hannah, before. For me, I think it was the first live session I’ve done with a nude model since I was at school and I think this one was the best of my results:

Penrallt Drawing Class (Hannah) - 01
Life Model – Hannah

I did this in two passes. I started with water colours I already had on palette – a cyan blue and something more from the red / purple part of the spectrum for contrast. I used a large, wide brush and worked quite quickly but these weren’t the tools for fine detail. I then set it aside for a little while and worked on a different piece (I think the one in the bottom right of #7 – I didn’t label them all sequentially).

I came back to it though before the pose changed and worked in a few lines with one of my water soluble graphite pencils – outlines and a few indications of the edges of shadows. Because the paper was still damp where I had laid down the watercolour, this created an interesting effect, darkening the tone in those areas. For example, if you follow the line describing her cheek and chin, you can see how it picked up the moisture in certain areas and shed it as the line continued to move round from forehead to jawline.

Of course, this would be very hard to replicate on purpose, except by taking the risk of working from observation – looking and responding rather than trying too hard to get it ‘right’. Perhaps that gives some of the energy to the result?

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