In one of the sculpture galleries at the V&A museum in London is Michaelangelo’s David. He does tend to dominate rather. However, there is also plenty of other stone-hewn flesh to sketch, and this time it was the turn of Crouching Boy, also by Michaelangelo.
One of my favourite ways to represent white marble is to work in white gel pen on a black background. It’s fun and a good mental discipline to have to add in highlights, rather than to leave them blank. Another bonus is that often you don’t need to spend very long to capture a credible likeness, as there never seems to be quite as much shading.
Sometimes I charge right into a drawing without circumspection. Not this time. When drawing just with pen it’s a risky business, as once you’ve committed there is no going back. I was on the last page of my sketchbook and wanted to do it justice, so I took care and time to think about the spacial relationships between the broad back, the head and the knee in particular. This pause for thought definitely helped in constructing the outlines.
The light in the sculpture gallery is rather diffuse, which means that it can be hard to see where the highlights and the darks are. It gave me some problems on the leg, trying to show the less defined muscles yet still leave enough shadow, but overall I’m pretty content with the way this one turned out. I would have been even happier if I’d been the sculptor!
The V&A museum in London is a great place for sketching. On the very busy day I visited the gallery staff went above and beyond in locating me a folding stool to take with me as I mooched about looking for a sketch subject.
In a strange coincidence I ended up on the top floor furniture gallery, where there were far fewer visitors and some wonderful examples of furniture. These two chairs really appealed to me, both for their differences and similarities.
The first, older chair I neglected to read about, and now I regret my carelessness. I was attracted by its combination of elegance and comfort, and the beautiful turquoise silk upholstery.
The lower chair is by Frank Lloyd Wright, dating from 1904 – I never knew he’d had a bash at making furniture. This one’s an office chair, and seems to me to have a rather robotic personality. Although it looks rather hard and angular, maybe that’s a good thing in an office chair, keeping the user focused and away from daydreams.
I first made sketches in black fineliner, and then, having carted my Inktense pencils around London, I decided that a splash of colour on these chairs would be just the thing. So that, with the help of a waterbrush, was what I did.
Still at the V&A Museum, and by this time I was getting ‘sketched-out,’ showing a rather disappointing lack of stamina. We moved on to the Japanese gallery – I’m always drawn to Japanese art, the delicacy and wit which is often exhibited is an attractive combination. Any one of the netsuke or inro on display would be a treasured item; choosing which one to draw is a real dilemma.
I made one last loose sketch effort; an inro with a devilish face on its bead. The case gave me pause for thought, as it was quite detailed in its patterning but did not seem to represent anything particular. Deciding how (and whether) to represent that was the issue. In the end I opted for ‘suggestive’ rather than literal. Which was just as well, or I’d still be there drawing it!
I confess I dashed this off as fast as I could, in the trusted combo of fineliner and Tombow again. It’s enough to remember the item by, and looking back on it now I feel it has a luminous, shiny lacquered quality I quite like.