Some years ago I tried this style of drawing and I revisited it yesterday in my art class.
The subject matter was chosen for its very reduced colour palette, as we were to concentrate on the tonal values throughout without becoming distracted by colour. A lamp had been placed to the right pushing some subtle shadows to the left of the vase.
The idea is to completely cover textural drawing paper in willow charcoal then, using a cloth, soften the effect by rubbing the charcoal into the peaks and troughs of the paper. Messy stuff.
We taped our paper down, thereby producing a clean edge for later handling and also avoiding moving the paper around whilst drawing and risking putting fingers across the surface by accident.
Once the charcoal has been applied it is removed in selected areas to create the lighter tones of the image. We covered numerous removal techniques: a standard eraser, a putty eraser, paper hand towel, fingers. Where darker tones are required – by that I mean darker than the original base covering – we applied either compressed willow or used charcoal pencils to draw more accurate outlines and shapes.
It was a challenge to just pick out the lighter tones and try to ignore the actual reality of the vase and flowers. We had the option of using a charcoal pencil to lightly draw in the shapes in advance to give us some guidance. I opted out and drew the vase freehand (nothing if not optimistic!!) and then gave myself a bit of outline work when shaping the roses. I took a bit of artistic licence with the flowers and, once I had the idea, went my own way.
It was a fun day and we all came out with very different results. The tutor, Lee, remarked how much I veer towards simplification and flattened imagery (and how much she likes that style). Now where have I heard that before?????