I went to high school with a girl named Tatyana. She was pretty, dressed nicely, and was stuck up.
A few weeks ago we had a model named Tatyana. She was also pretty and dressed nicely, but I will refrain from making any assumptions about her personality.
She was wearing a dress that had a solid, white base-layer with a black, lacy overlay of some perplexing design. Fascinating to look at, but challenging to draw.
The first drawing came together quickly – too quickly. We had two hours, and I only used 10 minutes so far. However, if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s this: when a drawing is done, it’s done. Don’t keep working on it just to kill time.
The sketchy quality here is part of the charm. The drawing is done in charcoal. Unlike when I watercolor, with charcoal I don’t do a pencil sketch underneath. It’s not really necessary, since charcoal erases almost as completely as pencil anyway, so you can sketch directly with the coal.
The beauty of the medium is manifold:
- Charcoal can produce very rich blacks and gradations, depending on the variety you’re using. Not so for graphite pencils which can only hope to be dark gray – no matter how hard you cram the pencil into the paper. Trust me on this one. I’ve ruined plenty of paper in my day trying to get black out of a pencil. Plus, graphite marks are actually fairly shiny, thus, the light that bounces off them make them look even less dark.
- You can create a wide variety of marks using a good stick of charcoal. The little black rectangular ones are the best. You can use the side of it for broad swipes that interact spectacularly with the grain of the surface (paper, etc.). The ends can be used for fine or fat lines, and the properties of the mark can be varied mid-stroke.
- You can cover a lot of ground with it quickly. This makes it easy to work large-scale.
- Because it reacts so well to erasing, you can use the eraser to make even more unique marks.
With so much time left on the clock, it was time to start another drawing. Same pose:
This time, the picture is more solid, less sketchy. The whole space is more composed, and a greater emphasis is placed on gradations of light and dark, whereas the first drawing was all black and white, for the most part.
In this second attempt, there is much less reliance on line. Instead, edges are indicated by light/dark contrasts. More attention was paid to details and textures. Her limbs also seem more dimensional.
Which drawing do you prefer? Why?
This new Tatyana did redeemed the name in my book. She had an amazing high forehead, and a body that would cause most straight men to do things they may later regret. Her fashion sense was terrific and calibrated to confound any artist bold enough to attempt to draw her. And as far as I could tell… not a snob.
Have you known any girls named Tatyana? Were they stuck-up? Pretty? Neither?