NOTE: all the images can be enlarged (so you can see the details better) by clicking on them.
I photographed the drawing “Mameyuri-san” in stages, starting from soon after I began the drawing until the work was completed. I spent about three weeks on this work during November 2012.
The drawing began, as all my drawings do, as a photograph taken by me. The photo was taken in 2007 in Kyoto however I have only just done the drawing from it at the end of 2012. (I always draw from photos and they are always my own.) Oops – except for one where I got special permission from the photographer, Onihide-san, to use his photograph for a drawing.
I do not tweak my photos on photoshop. I usually click ‘enhance’ but other than that, I do not manipulate them. Sometimes I take unwanted elements out of the compositions but I do this in pencil on the drawing itself, in other words I have to use a bit of imagination and ‘make up’ what I think would have been behind the unwanted objects.
Next I make an A4 sized print of the photo. Then I use a photocopier to make a huge enlargement of that photo. From the photocopy I trace the outlines onto my paper. Once this is done, I remove the photocopy from the back of my piece of paper and use the A4 photo as my reference. (You can see some of the traced lines on the first photo.) As I put on the ‘under colour’ (a pale layer of colour) I simultaneously rub out the 2B lead pencil outlines. Putting on the under colour is like making my map. It is just a rough guide – simple colour which I will later build on. (It can take a week or more, depending on the size of the drawing, just to put on all the under colour.)
I then begin to build up the colours, once the under colour is finished. I start with the area surrounding the Maiko (apprentice geisha) Mameyuri-san. No area of colour is ever one colour only. All my colours are layers upon layers of different colours.
If I am drawing a portrait, I start working on the face very early on and then over the period of the whole drawing I keep adding to and improving the features and skin colours. I don’t leave the face until last as it is the most important part so it needs a lot of time and consideration to build up. Also, as the colours get more intense around it, the face needs on-going alteration of tones. In fact I’m adjusting every bit of the drawing as I am building up the colours.
Because I am layering colour upon colour, I really need to understand colour theory. Without it I could not have any understanding of what results one colour added to another will achieve. How do colours set one another off? How do I make a colour really stand out? Answer: surround it with its complementary colour. One needs this knowledge. Everyone working with coloured pencils needs to study colour theory for this reason. Without knowledge of colour theory, layers of random colours may easily turn to mud.
I mostly work close to my drawing but I need to see the work from afar to know what needs pulling together. So, especially in the latter stages, I work from far away, working from across the room, stepping back to look, stepping forward to make a mark, stepping back, considering again and stepping forward again. This latter stage can take several days until I am satisfied with the result.
Related page: Subject 2:Geisha