Part 3: Project 5: Exercise 4: Statues

This feels like it may be a bit of preparation for Part 4???

I decided to treat this as a way of using different media (and initially had thought of using colour) to draw the same object and see which worked best. And also to draw a series of sketches of the same statue and see if I got better/saw more relationships/tones/shapes the more I drew it.

My main priority was to get a ‘feel’ of the statue as well as a visual resemblance.

As St Ives is my nearest town I headed out as I was sure I’d seen a statue in the market square.

And, sure enough, there was a very stern looking Oliver Cromwell!

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Interestingly the bustle of people (it was market day) didn’t bother me – the wind was more of a problem as it blew the page up.

I also missed using a putty rubber with charcoal… in retrospect I probably could have done but would have had to do it sequentially, and it’s quite nice using putty rubber and charcoal together so you’re constantly picking one up and swapping over. A bit like having a conversation rather than a monologue!

The details (and face!) on this don’t work, they’re smudgy and indistinct, but the posture and position in space is quite good. Maybe that’s because charcoal is fluid and lets you look at the overall shape?

I decided not to use colour as the statue was a uniform grey with tiny bits of stain… so decided to go for pencil next and improve the detail.

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It’s weird… the bit I like the best is the bit I did quickest (his right leg from the ankle down to his shoe sticking out over the plinth – and the bits I liked least were those I worked on most… like his hands and face.

In retrospect the hands aren’t as bad as I thought, though the book seems to have shrunk! And his left arm shoulder to elbow is too long.

But it’s beginning to get a ‘personality’… not sure how that’s happening but he’s beginning to connect with the viewer.

I then wondered what it would be like if I used graphite pen. It flows like a pen (has graphite in it??) but looks like an HB pencil… only you don’t have to press on.

Maybe I’d get detail and fluidity?

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The book has shrunk even more!!!!!

And the left shoulder is still much too long…

But, his face looks a bit like Cromwell??? and from the waist down it’s quite pleasing. Shame about the middle!!!!!

Next, I thought I’d try a black byro. It is more forgiving than black ink and lets you find a line without making big black patches (though that didn’t quite work when I had to move his left shoulder!)…

I thought it might split the difference between the qualities of the 3B pencil and the graphite pen.

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I struggled with making him look down but eventually managed to make him make eye contact. I also tried to get his hair which I noticed I’d (mainly) been missing.

The book and the hand holding the gloves works much better – I tried looking at the statue and relating all the bits to each other. His sword is more effective but the pointing finger and foreshortened arm still need a lot of work… though are a little bit better.

Belly button down this works.

His waistcoat was really difficult as it didn’t have any obvious folds and was quite smooth. And I found it hard to judge the exact angles at the bottom. I think maybe this is where a pencil or charcoal would come in to add tone?!

But… the sketch has got better and this is beginning to both look a bit like the statue and take on a personality.

Conclusion:

Statues, like people, are very hard to draw.

I don’t know how much of the personality of the original person they capture but to make them work you’ve not only got to get a physical likeness, but also capture (create) something of the personality of the original person and also the moment in action.

Not dead stone (being on a plinth we know it’s a statue) but a ‘real’ person we relate to!!!

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