Tuesday, 20 May 2008
The Nude in Perspective
For the past few weeks I have been going to a workshop on the "Nude in Perspective".
This week our task was to use white conte pastel or chalk on a black or dark piece of paper. I used pastels a few years ago and didn't like them much. They left my hands feeling all dry and chalky and I went through a lot of hand cream. So I wasn't really looking forward to the class.
Tanya, the model was lying down on a white sheet facing me with her abundant red hair tumbling over her right arm and her leg crooked beneath her. It was an interesting pose.
I took a deep breath, banished all negative thoughts and studied her intently for about 15 minutes before I began to mark out the paper, using a paintbrush to get a perspective. The angle of the foot presented a challenge, but I kept calm and stayed in the moment.
Eventually I began, working much slower than I usually do, deliberately stroking the chalk lightly over the surface, getting used to the old familiar scratchy feeling of chalk on paper. I began to relax and enjoy the sensation, taking pleasure in the form and medium, the play of light on the sensuous curve of the navel and the nice straight arm providing the composition with structure. Tanya was lying on a sheet which was the highest key colour. Using only white, I was careful to leave the dark areas on her body completely black, with just a few tiny dots of conte sprinkled around to suggest the form. The high key areas were on her back and shoulder, a little on the curve of her calf and along her arm and I used quite a heavy hand here to emphasise the light areas. I was hardly aware of time passing and it felt like a meditation as I kept my mind clear and concentrated.
We had a short break for tea and then I had just half an hour to finish off.
When I finally stepped back I was quite pleased with what I saw on the paper. Here she is - Tanya in white on black.