Red Chalk Drawings

I lead off today with my last red chalk drawing done in the course of last week’s workshop with Rob Liberace, “Drawing the Figure in Red Chalk”. He thought this drawing was my best from the three days, and who am I to argue with the Master. The workshop was a fabulous experience. The “students” included Sean Beavers, who was my instructor just a few weeks ago, and Larry Christian, who was my first figure drawing instructor at the Institute in 2006. I suspect that many of the faces who were unknown to me belonged to other long-established professionals as well.

The red chalk is not actually red chalk, but rather any soft red drawing material that simulates the red chalk used by the old masters. We deployed pencils and pastels of various properties, but the principal difference was softness. The harder pencil drawings work better on a smaller scale; detail is easier with a pencil while covering a large sheet with pencil is not fun. So conversely the larger the sheet you want to use, the softer is the material you choose. Obvious that should have been, yet a revelation to me.

I started with the harder stuff:

Young Woman in Red Chalk, about 18×18

With a few leftover minutes on that pose, I drew her whole figure in miniature, showing her slump so much better:


My output for Day 1 was perhaps suppressed due to my confusion about the paper. Based on information received with our materials list, I had pretreated sheets of paper with dilute amber shellac–on the wrong side. Drawing paper comes with two different surfaces–one side is rough, the other is smooth. I should have used the smooth side, not the rough side. No way to know. Then it turned out that when using the softer materials, you don’t need to treat the surface of the paper after all. Fortunately, I had some extra paper at home, and I came back on Day 2 armed with every possible configuration of treated and untreated sides.

For both Day 2 and Day 3 we had the same model, an 80-year-old guy whose body was so lean that he was practically a textbook on anatomy.

This was my best likeness of our model. Here I was using the softer pencils and little bit of the pastel stick. The duration of this pose was only an hour.

The next one was for the entire afternoon of Day 2:

When I was only halfway through,m Rob Liberace sat down and made almost imperceptible improvements to the face. Far be it from me to cover up Rob’s marks with my own improvements, hence the slightly kooky face.

Day 3 we had the same pose all day, but I was finished with my particular angle by lunchtime:

In the afternoon, I was able to move to a spot on the other side of the room. I went back to using the harder pencils:

Why was this one the favorite of Rob Liberace? He advocates using what I can only call “squirrely” lines, and in this drawing, I tried extra hard to make sure I had no straight lines. He also particularly loved the foot.

Here is a copy of one of his drawings, which shows pretty clearly what he was looking for.

The link I gave you at the top of this page should lead you to this image, and from there you can find others of his figure drawings.

It’s pretty humbling for me to see his and mine next to each other.

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