Back to posting what I did over the last few weeks, eh?
I largely didn’t have enough time to write reflective posts on all of these images when I made them. I did have time to write a four-page essay on my experiences, though. Having some place to write and record this (when I could) was invaluable. I have been moving from most favorite -> least favorite, though, over the course of my having posted these things.
The image above was my first shot at trying to generalize enough so that I wasn’t overwhelmed, and yet still be specific enough in order to get across the certain essence of the image. I still have the printout, so I can work from this again, relatively easily. For my own reference, this image was generated from the prompt to kalon; a Greek ideal of beauty. I kind of feel like not going into it right now, though it does fall back on the world of Forms, mathematics, and intellectual insight. I chose this image because it looked very “fractal” and like simple rules repeating to make something very complex.
One of the biggest things that is different between this and the photograph is that there are a lot less leaves in the image above than there were in life. There also seems to be some flattening going on around the center of the image that I’m not totally in love with. The center of the rosette was much more dimensional, in the photo. But then…I was working from a photo, wasn’t I? (Not that this image could have come about any other way, other than my having drawn it on location in Los Angeles over a year ago.)
This was the first time I tried out this charcoal paper; it’s the one with 25% hemp content which I mentioned, before. Let me find the pad…it’s Strathmore 400 series, 6″x9″, 75% post-consumer fiber, other than the hemp. “Acid free,” though what does that mean with post-consumer fiber, really (especially when it’s unclear whether it’s paper fiber and/or cotton)? What I can say is that it feels nice under my fingertips — I had to do a lot of rubbing and smudging, with this piece.
I used willow charcoal, almost entirely, in the above. The dark lines are either fine willow charcoal, or General’s Extra Soft charcoal pencil (6B). The light areas were erased away with a stick eraser. The areas which look bluish are the places I tried to add in light by using General’s White Charcoal, but the effect is not something I find I like. I might try for a buff chalk pastel, next time.
This is…especially so, as there is a Prop 65 warning on General’s White Charcoal in Blick’s database, and the MSDS from Blick is essentially no help, as it’s for regular charcoal, not “White Charcoal.” I just visited the General’s website where one can download the MSDS for their products, and White Charcoal is not one of the products they provide an MSDS for.
Of course, the Prop 65 warning could just be there because no one will say what is in the White Charcoal sticks or pencils (as noted here), and Blick might just be trying to cover all its bases, just in case there is something carcinogenic in them.
This…doesn’t really make me feel much better, as when I went out looking for a Zinc White paint by Liquitex recently, I found “Transparent Mixing White” (their Zinc-Oxide-pigmented white) which contained lead. Then I went out again, after realizing that I didn’t have to get Liquitex brand for a Zinc White, found Golden brand Zinc White, brought it home, and found online that it contained cadmium (even though there was no CL label on the packaging).
Seriously. Seriously?! What is up with zinc oxide that it requires heavy metal additives to make a good paint? What are the cadmium and lead doing?
So anyway…I probably won’t be using the General’s White Charcoal without a glove on, in the near future; though I still might get lazy, say “to hell with this, I can afford some potential mutations” and take the chance again of working with my bare hands. But hey — if I’m going to be wearing a dust mask anyway (I don’t like getting pastel dust stuck in my sinuses, it’s kind of freaky to still smell them five hours later), why not gloves? …
Or, why not switch to my Rembrandt soft pastels, which I know contain no cadmium or lead? (No, Rembrandt is not paying me. I just had to use their white soft pastel in one of my past drawing classes, and loved it; replaced it after its remnants shattered seven years later. It doesn’t behave the same way as General’s White Charcoal, though; it’s creamier and less “dry.”) Maybe I’ll play with my Rembrandt now, now that I’m thinking of it…of course, though, it’s coated in White Charcoal dust…
As an aside, I do think that heavy metal salts aren’t necessarily acutely dangerous unless burned, sprayed (or otherwise inhaled), ingested, or in such a form that they can dissolve and thus be absorbed transdermally…but I’m not a doctor or a toxicologist. It’s on all of us to protect our own health and judge our own risk-taking. I’m just thinking that it is specifically the soluble salts (which can dissolve into something [like water or turpentine] which can pass through skin) that are the major problem — unless you’re an airbrush or spray-paint artist. Insoluble salts are probably not as big a risk — even though they would still get a Prop 65 warning for the metal being present at all — though that would seem to most heavily impact transdermal absorption.
But yes — I did post a very long time ago when I was first playing around with this method (subtractive drawing). Remember the pineapple? This time, I was working from a reference, though loosely so. Still, I wouldn’t have been able to make this drawing without it — I haven’t studied succulent structure enough — so that’s saying something.
Oh — and one last thing I discovered in postprocessing. I didn’t adjust the Levels on this photo, because I found that it made the image too extreme. The original doesn’t have an extreme-black-to-extreme-white range of tones; it’s actually much softer, as shown in the photo. It’s something to keep in mind, for the future…