I attended a Figure Drawing Masterclass on Saturday with the artist Kelly-Anne Cairns We spent the morning working in charcoal drawing our model Elizabeth. This was my second life drawing class so I did a little better with proportion this time, managing to get the feet to fit on the page and not disappear off the end of the paper. I learned a bit about charcoal reduction at Edinburgh College of Art in the summer so it was good to create a drawing using this method again. It involves covering the paper with a thick willow charcoal and then rubbing this in with your hands (very messy!). Then you draw in the lines of the body using a thin piece of charcoal, creating highlights by lifting out with a putty rubber. Any additional shading is done by adding more charcoal and blending with the fingers.
We only had one hour to do this so there is a lot that is unfinished. At one point the model's knee was far too squashed so Kelly-Anne suggested cutting off a strip of paper from the left side of the paper and joining it to the right side which gave me more room to extend the knee and get the proportion right. I think it works quite well and you really can't see the join!
I have used oils only once before but have always wanted to give them another go, although I wasn't quite sure how I was going to get the painting home given the amount of drying time involved. We were using Alkyds which dry quicker but still take about a week. After a great demonstration by Kelly-Anne on mixing and applying skin tones, we had two hours to spend on our paintings. Oils are wonderful to work with although I will definitely need to invest in some decent brushes as the ones I have are starting to shed their hairs - not pretty when that happens on your painting.
The painting is slightly bigger than this but I cropped the photo because there is a large smudge of paint on the far left which I need to fix. This happened because the two ends of the paper got pressed together when I was getting it home. I might do more work on the background but am pleased with the skin tones. Two hours wasn't very long (it flew past) but it was a good introduction to working with this medium. At Edinburgh College of Art Summer School I worked in acrylics which dry much too quickly but I couldn't really have used anything else when you have transport several large pieces of work home afterwards. But now that I have a better understanding of how oil works (and know that I can buy water-based oils which will avoid having to use turpentine) I'm keen to start painting some portraits. Although I've just seen the price of really good brushes so might have to make do with my cheap ones for a while longer.