Today I have finished a drawing which took a very long time – several weeks – though it was interrupted by a month overseas. On this page I show it in six stages. Please click on the images to enlarge them. So that you can flow through the images uninterrupted, I am doing all the writing underneath.
My camera could not cope with the first image. As it was looking at a pure white sheet of paper (as it saw it) it turned the white blue. Never mind. You can still clearly see the pencil marks and that is the main thing. What you will notice is that instead of tracing the pattern on the obi with lead pencil, I have put colour down. The obi pattern was so complex I would not have known what colours went where from simply following lead pencil marks.
Because of the complexity of the obi, I decided to begin with it. I knew that if I could not get the obi right there was no point going on with the drawing. It was challenging.
When I thought that I could live with the results of the obi, I began to work on the background. You might think that drawing out-of-focus background is easy compared to working in-focus. But it isn’t! At least not for me. I found it hard going and tedious. I had to mentally focus on the IDEA of the drawing. I so believed in this idea (ie my observation of Katsuyuki’s observation), that pure determination kept me soldiering on. Besides, I had put so much time already into the obi that I wasn’t going to give up on the rest.
When I had dutifully worked over the surroundings (complaining to anyone who would listen on Facebook and email) I finally had the joy of starting on the main subject. Now it was fun! I started with the hair, working downwards through the skin to the kimono.
Compare work-in-progress 5 with the finished drawing “Observation” beneath it. You can see, by comparing the two, how important the use of complementary colour is. In WIP5 the blue of the obi is all there but it is wishy-washy isn’t it? It has no substance. What gives it substance and integrates it into the rest of the composition is the subtle addition of orange. You don’t look at it and say to yourself, “Here is a layer of orange on top of the blue”. No; it is barely there but it IS there. Without it, the kimono would remain insubstantial and anaemic.
All in all, this drawing is a dialogue between the complementaries of orange and blue. The two colours are all through the composition, sometimes in their prismic (bright) forms and sometimes extremely muted and secretive. I wanted to keep the background as low key as possible to emphasise the colours of Katsuyuki’s magnificent ensemble.
This drawing is a reminder to me that the process of drawing isn’t always fun all the time. Big parts of a work may be tedious and seemingly never-ending BUT anything worth doing takes hard work.
See the post I have written about the drawing Observation here.