Christmas Vacation Drawings, Part 1

Flew from Honolulu to western Nebraska on 12/22 (family reunion for Christmas). The day after I arrived I set up shop in my mom’s studio, prepared to produce some drawings. I like working in this environment for several reasons. For one thing, my family is around me and they’re very supportive…plus we have a lot of fun together. For another, I’m away from home and business and all those concerns and it’s a lot easier to focus on drawing and painting.

The first drawing I worked on is one I began just before leaving home…a rear nude of Torano. I began drawing on it the morning after arriving at my parents’. The image I worked on presented a particular challenge in that the figure is almost entirely in shadow. It’s much easier to do a figure where there are strong lights and darks. In this case it’s all reflected light within a shadow area. That’s a much more subtle and demanding scenario.

In the last few months, though, I’ve loosened up my drawing style a lot. Rather than the very tight, meticulous crosshatching I did for so many years, I’ve been doing more "scribbling." I really have to focus and keep myself loose to make this approach work, but I find I can get effects every bit as subtle as with the tighter crosshatching, and have more fun doing it. Of course that results in a drawing that’s more lively…and alive.

That’s what happened with this drawing, which I’m calling "Nice Day." I managed to capture the very subtle reflected-light-within-shadows that defines Torano’s body in this image. The looser style of drawing also made it easier to render the fluffy-clouds sky behind Torano’s head and upper body which gives the whole drawing a sense of space, and which gives us more of a reference for the few splashes of sunlight that show up on the body.

On the third day of my stay in Nebraska I started another drawing, this one of Christian. Like "Nice Day," this one is backlit, with most of the body in shadow. The previous one had gone so well, I decided to do another one. This one lent itself to a bolder approach, however.

With the previous drawing, the background (sky and clouds) was a middle tone, with the most of the lights and all of the darks happening in the body. That meant I had to constantly monitor the relationship of the lights and darks in the body and the lights and darks in the sky to make sure the balance remained correct. The relationship has to be exactly right or the figure doesn’t stand out in front of the background.

This image of Christian, though, is more of a silhouette—there’s less detail within the shadowed area of the body. The face, especially, is almost a profile. This image lends itself to an easier treatment: specifically, a very dark, nearly black background against which the figure stands out dramatically.

Because the contrast between the background and the body is so strong, I can get away with paying less attention to the lights-darks relationship. It’s not as subtle as the previous drawing. So this one was a bit less challenging and a bit more fun. I was able to loosen up on it and play more. Plus I was already warmed up from the previous drawing. The result: an unassuming but solid little drawing which I’m calling "Sunlit Boy."

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