Aim of the exercise: To throw a piece of clothing or a length of plain fabric across a chair and then to make two 15 minute sketches using line only with a soft pencil or charcoal. Then in 5cm squares to draw five-minute sketches of different parts of the fabric.
What I experienced:
Completed 22/11/13. Prior to starting this exercise I looked at how other artists had drawn material and was once again awe-struck with the mastery of Leonardo da Vinci’s Studies of Drapery. I enjoyed seeing the different approaches from the looser style of artists such as Edgar Degas and Jean Antoine Watteau to the intricate drapery studies of artists such as Frederic Leighton and Elliot Daingerfield. I also found the sections on types of folds (pages 328-349) in Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life by George B Bridgman very useful in understanding the various types of fold that may be seen in drapery.
For my first A3 drawing on cartridge paper I used the plain side of a duvet cover as the material and drew the first 15 minute sketch using a Conté crayon, Black B grade. I found it quite difficult to follow the folds and show these in line only and ended up using a little bit of tone in any areas that I was getting too muddled with line alone. The drawing helped me to settle into looking for the folds and understanding how they lay. I didn’t manage to draw the chair in as it took me all of the time to draw the material.
For the second A3 drawing on a mid-toned pastel paper I started using a 4B graphite pencil but found myself increasingly fascinated by the folds and ended up developing the drawing beyond the line stage to see if I could accurately portray them and understand better how to show how they fell and the form that the chair underneath gave to the fabric. I enjoyed attempting this drawing and used a mix of 4B and 6B graphite pencils and white Conté crayon to complete it. I chose to just suggest the chair as I preferred the detail on the fabric only.
I found drawing sections of the various folds in the 5cm boxes surprisingly difficult as it isolated them out of context and some of my attempts do not look much like folds at all. I enjoyed trying various media and found that the least successful, in this instance, was oil pastel which proved to be just too thick for such a small box. In boxes 1-10 I drew the duvet cover and in the rest of the boxes drew the folds of a fleece blanket. I used various Conté crayons for the folds of the fleece blanket and enjoyed using them and it was interesting tackling deeper folds formed by a different material. The richer darks that the Conté crayons also helped in the depiction of the folds.
What I feel went well: I feel that the second drawing of the duvet cover over the chair has worked quite well. I had felt surprisingly nervous of starting this exercise as I had found the folds that I had tried to draw of my model’s clothes, in previous exercises, quite difficult to understand how to portray them and felt very clumsy in my attempts. I feel that the reading I did prior to starting this exercise helped to give me a better understanding of what I was seeing. I think the folds are reasonably successfully portrayed. I enjoyed using the mid-toned pastel paper and combining the white Conté with the pencil drawing.
What I feel did not go well: Having had a period of time where I have been unwell and have therefore had quite a gap between this exercise and the last, I then caused further delay by procrastinating about starting. Each time that I think that I have got on top of that it seems to pop up further down the line. Clearly this is something that still needs more work. It took me a few days to be able to get back to the attitude that doing something, anything, however good or bad, was a lot better and a lot more productive than all the sitting and thinking about it (and all the million excuses I am capable of running through as to why now was not a good time to start!). Once again, my mark making could have been more imaginative. I think that the second drawing worked better than the first. I found it much harder to follow the folds on the first drawing and the drawing is quite muddled on some of them.
What I would like to do following this exercise: I need to ensure that I avoid procrastinating about the next exercise and to that aim I would like to complete that tomorrow. When I am out and about I would like to observe, much more, how various fabrics that people are wearing fold and fall. It is not something that I have particularly noticed before and it will all help me to get a better understanding of how fabric behaves and how to portray it successfully.