Little Napoleon

Let’s be clear – I wouldn’t claim Napoleon as one of my heroes. So why did I sketch his bust?

Well, a chance concatenation of events meant I’d been granted a weekend all to myself. No-one else to please, or work round. Just me.

Facing a blank weekend felt a bit like starting a new sketchbook. ‘What if I don’t make the most of it? What if I don’t do enough? What if it isn’t sufficiently fun? How can I prioritise all the things I’d like to be doing? Will I actually enjoy doing them alone?’

In the end I turned to my default setting – a day trip to London to absorb a bit of culture. The plethora of choice (even having narrowed down the destination somewhat) is astounding. I Googled and dithered, and in the end decided I’d visit both the Tate Britain and the Victoria & Albert Museum – the nation’s largest museum dedicated to the decorative arts.

I found Napoleon at the V&A, around the first corner of the first gallery. He had a moody look in his marble eye, daring me; the clincher was that there was a conveniently positioned quiet wall opposite where I could sit and rest my back when sketching. I took my shoes off (it was a very hot day) and began in my 3×3 inch sketchbook. Normally I use this sketchbook for drawing straight into pen, but I must admit Napoleon was quite intimidating and so I ventured some brief pencil guidelines first. Once I’d put the main lines in using fineliner I added contours with a black Tombow and waterpen.

Maybe Napoleon’s friends wouldn’t recognise him from this, but that’s ok. I’m sure he had enough flattery in his lifetime not to need any now!

Funsize Napoleon ink & tombow

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23 thoughts on “Little Napoleon

  1. Perfect day! Lovely delicacy in that top sketch contrasting with the hard marble below, nice! I love my family but my favorite trip ever was my “alone vacation” to the mountains staying in a little cottage on the lake. And this was before I was painting and drawing! Would be a thousand times better now. Fall is the best time. I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and get a chance to do it again! Lovely results.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this. Ink and ink wash produce such powerful images. I was just using some in the last couple of life drawing sessions. If the lighting’s good you can really work with the tones and half-tones. I go straight in with an ink pen and use Quink ink for the washes which stains immediately. So later I can see my hesitant marks and mistakes if I look hard enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! Thank you, Graham. I imagine it’s an excellent medium for life drawing. I suppose also that accepting and incorporating mistakes and hesitations are what give such drawings much of their character. πŸ™‚

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