Finally moved on from freaking out, into working…

I have been through the wringer today trying to figure out how to approach this assignment I’m working on.  Basically, we were given a word relating to “beauty” from another language, and have to integrate its meaning into one of our pieces.

Granted, thanks to the cold snap, I am getting a bit sick.  I’ve been in bed for much of today…but really, this assignment should have been done last week, last Tuesday at the latest.  I think the specifics of the assignment are a bit…well, I probably shouldn’t publish my prof’s lesson plan, but I think the specifics of what I’m approaching aren’t so important.  My process is.

What I’m looking at, in my case, is the amount of time I’ve had to let this stew before taking a crack at it.  (Mixed metaphor.  Sorry.)  Yesterday was the first time I was actually brave enough to even take the piece of tracing paper I had and trace over some of the outlines of my source photo, just to see where things were positioned.  I’m working at drawing some form of succulent or ice plant, I’m not sure which.  The forms are organic, repeating, and multitudinous.

I’ve had those papers out on my bed for at least a week.  And, hey, it’s just tracing…it’s not like it’s hard.

But from there, I was able to have ideas come bubbling up as to how to approach making the finished piece.  My first idea was “why realism?” and realizing that what I was thinking of doing was photorealism.  This, probably most, was keeping me from working on the project at all.  I got the idea to start out with photorealism, then as the eye progressed across the page, go more and more abstract.  Same subject matter, different approach.

I’ve ended up not doing this, so far.  What I did do was take a cue from the Japanese stationary store that we visited the other day, and alter the dimensions of the paper (I was interested in the scroll format of ink drawing and calligraphy).  Just because I may only have 18″x24″ or 19″x25″ paper, that doesn’t mean that I have to stick with that ratio.  I can cut the paper down, that is.  What I’ve ended up doing is working with a 15″x24″ area, which is approximately 5x the size of my original print after cropping.  (I didn’t print out a full-size photo because I wasn’t sure I’d even use the image.)

Now that I write that, I realize that I may have made a math error — the original image is 3″x5″, which would size up to 15″x25″, not 15″x24″.  Guess I wasn’t paying close attention.  I know that I can’t remember what size the paper actually is, and would need to measure it to be sure.

In any case, I now have a line drawing on black paper (it’s too faint to photograph), and am hoping that my colors will show through if I end up having to use pastel pencil on them.  Of course, the best coverage would be with a cadmium pigment, but cadmium is so toxic (and pastel dust so persistent) that I’d need to be really careful.

Or — hey.  I just thought of this.  Earth pigments.  Conté crayon?  Hmm.  There isn’t any reason why I have to stick with the color this plant was in life, after all.

Or — hey!  Oil pastel!  I never use them, but I bet they would be great for this!  I wouldn’t have to use fixative, and I’d get the color density of pastel.  And I have two sets already — Sakura and Niji.  I can also try Neocolor I crayons, three of which I have.  (I have an extra sheet of black paper which I’ve been testing colored pencil and soft pastel on, too.  No reason why I shouldn’t test out these ideas…)

There are also my Derwent Drawing Pencils, which I just remembered I had.  They’re all earth tones, but their coverage is very good, and they should be able to cover the black of the paper.

The other option is trying out an oil-based artist-quality colored pencil, like the LYRA option…though I think I’ll try oil pastel and the Drawing Pencils first, at least.

Anyhow, I’ve been questioning my assumptions as to what it is that I would be doing when working on my art.  The last assumption that I found was the idea that I’d need to transfer over all of the photograph to the final drawing, but I don’t have to do that.  In fact, it may be more effective not to do that.  M said that she wouldn’t even have assumed the entire drawing would be transferred, in the first place.

I did try and loosen up with my hand in this piece, as well.  I had a really tight approach, measuring my lines in divisions of space against a grid, and moved into using a more gesture-drawing approach.  The latter made things a lot easier, and I think my accuracy improved when I stopped measuring as obsessively, ironically.

Okay.  Enough time out of bed.  I need to brush my teeth and get some sleep…


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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