Sunday, May 10, 2009

100 Heads: Head #61

This is my copy of a self-portrait by Kathe Kollwitz (1867-1945), a German artist who specialized in print making and whose work highlighted the plight of the poor and oppressed. I used medium vine charcoal to outline the face and then used compressed charcoal for tone, on Strathmore charcoal paper.

In my last post, I mentioned I copy master portraits in order to improve my observation skills. Here, I was also trying to expand my toolkit of techniques. This portrait is an example of modeled drawing. Darker tone is used to push the form away from the viewer, and lighter tone is used to bring the form towards the viewer. The range of values do not represent the range of lights and darks that result from a light source shining on the subject. I like the exaggerated angular features and the way the texture of the paper is incorporated into the portrait. The resulting portrait is very expressive.

I think Kollwitz outlined the face in charcoal and then used a piece of charcoal on its side to quickly model the head. This technique is quick to execute, but requires great skill to do well. It must take years of drawing practice to get to the point where the tones are laid down correctly on the first try. My copy is 9" x 12", which I found to be a little small. I think a larger size paper would make it easier to vary the pressure and resulting charcoal tone in one sweeping arm movement.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of my drawing and Kollwitz's. I am going to try a self-portrait using this technique.

No comments: