First, I sat my model, Dani, beside my living room window to take advantage of the lovely light coming in; she was flinging her hair back when I snapped the shutter. I like the inward-looking expression she had. So often I find the photos that are the most un-posed are the best. Now that I had a reference to draw from, I did the next logical thing: I looked for a frame.
You might not think that the next logical thing would be to find a frame, but for me it is. They’re costly and I do my best to reuse and recycle them; in my case ‘reclycling’ means the old art goes out and the new art goes in. The frame I chose was one I found in a thrift store and I just love it. It’s rather long and narrow and is carved with some scrolls; it’s somewhat feminine. I’d been saving it for just the right artwork and this one fit the bill.
Now that I had the frame, I designed the drawing to fit it by making it long and narrow. I mirrored the frame’s design by adding a small border around the main image. To do that, I used some tricks. You can buy very narrow masking tape at art stores; I had some that was just 1/16th of an inch wide. I masked off my paper with one ince green tape for the outside edge and used the thin tape to designate the border. It worked like a charm.
On to paper and pencils: I used a full range of pencils, from 2H to 8B, but I’m never happy with the darks made by pencils. The softer ones, say from about 7B, start getting waxy and the sheen and texture from them is very different from the harder leads. I decided to use a carbon pencil for the darkest darks. A carbon pencil is a cross between charcoal and graphite and is really dark. Use caution; it doesn’t erase very well.
For the paper, I experimented with Arches hot press 140 lb watercolour paper...and I didn’t like it. I wanted this drawing to be pretty meticulous with soft gradations and areas that appeared flat, meaning no pencil lines showed. The paper had little bumps that grabbed extra graphite and made her look like she had freckles. It looks okay from a distance, but from an arm’s length away it was frustrating.
The drawing itself was enjoyable to do. Her hair required extra attention because it played such a prominent role. I had to knuckle down and really study curls and tangles and fly-aways – I couldn’t just draw lots of wavy lines and call it done. Once finished, only one step remained: titling it. I pondered it one evening and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I had it: Dream Life.