Drawing on the right side of the brain: Exercise 5

Drawing of my hand
Drawing of my hand

Rubbed graphite ground on cartridge paper, 3B pencil & eraser

After many days and if I’m really honest at least a year of procrastination I finally got down to doing exercise 5 from ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’. I’d been putting it off because I didn’t have any bits of perspex to make the picture plane tool with. Finally went to get a couple of cheap frames that I could steal the plastic from only to find picture glass glued into the frames, argh! I could also feel myself rebelling against being told how to draw… but the rational part of me knows I need to do this, having recently looked back at my old college work I noticed a laziness and failure to properly complete drawings that I didn’t like.

The first part of the exercise involves using a perspex picture plane with cross hairs and viewfinder. Balance the plastic picture plane over your hand, then with one eye shut draw the image you see directly onto the plastic using a non permanent felt pen.

I noticed a number of bad habits… I move my head around too much when drawing which distorts the image. Once I had sorted this I realised part of the image wasn’t within the corrected area of vision covered by my glasses!

The second part is to draw an identical size format onto paper, tone it with graphite and rub the graphite in, a very satisfying process. After adding cross hairs you transfer the main points of your drawing on plastic to the prepared paper. Re-pose your hand using the plastic picture plane as a guide. Then removing the plastic guide continue the drawing from life… Easy?

Ok, so I followed the instructions but found it very difficult to adopt exactly the same pose and the “copied” key points were more of a hindrance than a help so most of them ending up getting rubbed out and replaced. When I do this exercise again I won’t bother with drawing on the plastic first or transferring key points. I’ll just use a plastic picture plane with cross hairs on it over the subject, removing it once I have some key points down .

After a while I noticed I was not sitting square to my page and subject so some of my angle calculations were out. I needed to recalibrate my vertical and horizontal axis by moving my hand and seating position so that the drawing and the subject were more closely matched. After that I progressed around the drawing quite swiftly and enjoyed re-toning the erased sections so that I could include recording of tonal values in the finished piece.

Covering the whole page with a mid tone was a really enjoyable way to work. Something about having already marked the whole page was really liberating, and made it easy to record tonal values accurately. Also I like the way the finished drawing has the look of a lino cut. Definitely a useful exercise that I will repeat.