4.3 More Hands

Having studied my hands from different angles I felt it was time to leave the graphite. I had two combinations of media in my head: Charcoal with reddish conté and, strangely, lemon yellow oil pastel with watercolour. Where this last one comes from I have no idea. Could have something to do with the fact that I only have yellow bits of Neocolor crayon left over from school, but the idea persisted even after I had bought other colours. So yellow it was.

The first sketch in my sketchbook did not work well. Wrong paper as I should know by now. Also the contrast between yellow and charcoal is too strong I think, and I do not particularly like the brown – as companion colour to yellow maybe something equally unnatural would work better.

pastel ink
Yellow oil pastel, charcoal and calligraphy ink on A3 Cartridge paper

Different paper, different colours and watercolour instead of ink:

pastel waterc
Cool and warm yellow and blue oil pastels, orange and phtaloblue watercolour, background Payne’s Grey. A3 Watercolour paper

I like the volume and texture in this. Also the bleeding. The pad of the ringfinger and the heel of the hand are wrong, otherwise the drawing is right, I think. But it is not what I’ve had in mind: a gestural drawing in oil pastel, where the oil repels the watercolour thus emphasising the line:

pastel watercolour
Oil pastels and watercolour on A3 watercolour paper

I like how the background moves in and out of the hand and still gives it volume. I also like the gestural drawing and the touches of blue for contrast. This drawing has a lightness and immediacy to it that I like a lot. Interesting to see how much work spontaneity needs!

For the charcoal – conté idea I chose to try and show my hands in strained positions as opposed to the relaxed open hand above. This offers different shapes and the possibility of different mark making to express the energy. I liked drawing this.

coal conte fist
Charcoal, conté, red oil pastel and plastic eraser

I like the contrast between soft smudged marks and hard energetic ones. I also like the effect of the eraser marks although I think they could be placed better. I’m not sure if the drawing is correct, it feels strange but I cannot put my finger on why.

I had ample opportunity to study my hands when working, strained positions as well but less violent. I drew these with the help of reference photos and my hands empty. This was more difficult than I had expected. I think I prefer drawing from life.

coal conte
Conté and charcoal on cartridge paper, A3

I like the combination of charcoal with conté in this particular colour. They both offer expressive mark making and are quite versatile. With me the paper always becomes messy, but I like that. It is part of these pictures, expressing energy and anger in the first, in the second it makes a contrast to the clean area of the spade handle where I rubbed it out.

The yellow oil pastel lines had not yet left my system and neither should they as I still had to do the drawing I had been wanting to do all week. I had bought large watercolour paper for this and wanted to get it right (a dangerous attitude, I know). The exercises above were part of the preparations for this.

spade preparations

Early on I saw that the line work would be less gestural than in the exercise but I could not see how I could change that very much. The shapes in the fingers are much smaller and there are less lines inside the shape of the hand, unlike an open palm. I was probably afraid of wasting a lovely sheet of paper, too. Because the paper was lovely, wonderfully large and pristine, the largest I have worked on up to now.

The result is more controlled than the drawing of the open hand above, in the line work as well as in the watercolour. It looses interest due to that. I concentrated on keeping the sheet wet and getting the shadows right. I also wanted to avoid too strong and too obvious marks in the background which resulted in almost no marks in that area. So yes, too controlled. An attempt at a less controlled version can be found here.

Oil pastels, watercolour and masking fluid, 57×76 cm

Working on this scale felt absolutely wonderful. The actual hands are not bigger than the A3 studies as I had to fit them on the paper in a somewhat realistic distance to each other. So the next step would be to draw something that fills all this space. Looking forward to that!


2 thoughts on “4.3 More Hands

  1. I love your comment “Interesting to see how much work spontaneity needs!”. So, so true. You have some beautiful work here. I’m really looking forward to “the big one” reaching out of the paper sometime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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