How to Bring the Drapery Up to Finish

     Now we're up to a point with your drapery where everybody seems to have done very well with the modeling. And when you start to use your compressed charcoal and try to get the finer movements of lights and darks, or the subtle details, you're having a little bit of trouble with the part of the drawing which is coming into focus and getting more realistic lights and darks.

     This is one way that you could bring it up to resolution, for example. This is a drawing by Sam Pott. Here it almost looks like paper, because he has those ripples-have-ridges effect, which comes from drawing against a textured wall. So he decided to make it look like a cloth that was very over-starched. How did he bring this up to finish? This is called a cast shadow, which roughly relates to the undercut. The undercut was the area where it went into a crevice, you can't see it, and then it came back out. He took the eraser and put a line here -- that's a very sharp highlight with the eraser -- he put a very dark compressed charcoal mark that he pulled out with tissue, softening it. Same thing right here. That's called graduating the tone out from the undercut. You'll also see that there are these finer, littler movements that you begin to have to work with. You can't do these big sweeping movements with the compressed charcoal. So you're going from the large movement of the whole to smaller and finer movements of lights and darks. How does that happen? You can actually use a series of little direction lines.

     You're trying literally to develop your drawing -- in the same way that when you take a Polaroid picture and it hasn't developed, first all the grays come up. You don't see any detail; it doesn't develop by having a detail on one side and being loose on the other side. The whole thing comes up at the same time, starting from the less detailed movement of the whole, or the whole mass. That's essentially the way we've got to develop the drapery studies.

     What you're doing essentially is making a series of cross-hatches for working out from the form to the background, by gradually going from dark to light... so that'll be a little darker. I'd have to spend twenty minutes going out from this edge to the corners, going from the darkest point there. And my compressed charcoal is German, which is extremely expensive and very subtle. I could use a Conte compressed charcoal pencil. You see that it gives a bluer black -- cool colors, including cool black, tend to recede, whereas warm colors tend to advance. So a cool black against a warm vine charcoal will make it seem as though this is being pushed back. And a warm black, which has more red in it, once it has more blue in it will seem to recede.

     If you take that same black but you want to do it with a softer compressed charcoal stick, and you pull a tone all the way across here it creates a cast shadow -- I know this looks crazy to you, but there's a reason. The reason being that we know that this sits in front of this -- we're to create an illusion of something sticking out. And that is sticking out. If the light's hitting here, it would cast a shadow. At the end of the day yesterday, we were driving over the hills in Pescadero. It's so good these last couple of days to see that because the sun is so crystalline clear and beautiful it was casting long shadows from the trees, and one hill was casting a shadow onto the other. You know then that that's a big hill, and the sun's hitting here, and there's a shadow being projected that's telling you the shape of the next hill. So if you take this [gray area] and you pull it down like that [making a tone with the compressed charcoal] you're pushing it back. You're then pulling back in bits of light [on the lighter areas next to the area you've just darkened].

     Let's say you want this to really pop out and you put a slight tone right there, and then you wipe it down. Notice that I'm working less wildly, because we're working with finer movements. Now you want this to sit in front. You take the edge of the eraser and you draw with it now. And that'll pop more. Does this sit in front of this? It does. You've got to let the viewer know that it sits in front. So then you put your dark in, and you graduate this back out.

     At this point in the drawing, the drawing itself will tell you what movements you need.

     In your drawing you will see right now that it is starting to tell you I want to be darker here. I want a little finer movement right in here, and this is a little too...get a little something happening in here...touch me right there, come in a little bit behind right I come up a little bit more and down. It starts to tell you what it needs. Now you see you want to pull down a little more there. You also see you've got a natural ledge. As if you were touching it. Instead of touching it hard, you make repeat moves. You just go over it several times. You're not to use more pressure, just more applications, so that it gradually comes into focus. Look at it here, what if I do this. You stay with gesture, but it's a much more sensitive series of passes that you start to make. You make more lines that get more and more space between them, and it starts to pull it up. It's a little too heavy? Just pull that [tone] down. By the way, you need to come in here as well because if you don't, you can't give this edge that little bit of reflected light that's going to give it a dance. That's how you proceed. One of the things you've been doing is this [wiping up and down]. Now when you get to the coming-into-focus part of the drawing, you need to go around and over, as if you were touching in the direction of the form. Then you come back in with the eraser here, and then you start to erase with less pressure and start to graduate the tone. That's how you bring these drawings up to finish.