“Once Upon a Wall”
Luminance pencils over Sennelier oil pastels.
380 x 540 mm. June 2017
Once upon a wall there was a corroding remnant of street art. Only a head and shoulder remained. Whatever the rest of the image was had long gone. It had presumably cracked up then flaked off, washed and blown away over time in brittle particles.
But look again. The peeling layers of paint have transformed into tulle!
Once upon a wall there was a princess from a fairy tale; an apparition of Marie Antoinette; a dancer from Les Folies Bergère; a Belle Époque courtesan (maybe Camille herself); or perhaps Saint-Säens’ Dying Swan.
I was touched by the vision of this tattered graceful wallflower – enough to prolong her life and give her a new audience by drawing her.
During the course of my drawing I searched the internet to find the street artist and see what the paste-up had once looked like. The artist goes by the name of Sobr. The original was a head-to-toe paste-up of a woman dancing in bandeau and shorts. Weather and time have combined to transform the figure from nonchalant female to tragic romantic heroine.
Of course you might simply see a dirty wall. And you wouldn’t be wrong. We each bring our own stories and interpretations to that which we encounter.
Here are two more figures by Sobr which I photographed. The subject of my drawing had been similar stylistically to these. Sobr made a series of stencils of dancing women which he called his “It’s Time to Dance” project.
Technical note: I used Sennelier oil pastels (a French brand) to ‘map’ in the colours on the paper before I put any pencils on. Here is a detail of Sennelier under-colour before pencils were applied. The addition of oil pastel adds to the richness and saturation of the finished coloured pencil drawing.
How it began: initial layer of colour applied with Sennelier oil pastels, using a bristle brush to push the colour into the paper.
This image shows the range of 120 Sennelier oil pastels.
Here are the three sizes the pastels come in (shown next to a pencil to give you a comparison). The biggest one only comes in black and white. So far I have been using the smallest size.