Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Rose

A week ago I sat down to draw a Rose. I wanted to try and get some nice smooth blends so looked for the smoothest paper I have. What a mistake that was! I chose Extra Smooth Surface Bristol Board (250 gsm) thinking it would 'be the business'. I wanted to build up my tones gradually so started light with a hard (5H) pencil. All was well until I started to blend, and then I found the tortillons were leaving unpleasant streaks on the paper rather than giving a smooth graduation of tone. I switched to paper-based stumps but they were just as bad. I persevered, building up tones with more graphite, switching to a softer (H) pencil, and blending, blending, blending. The end result was very disappointing ... and I was disappointed in my own efforts because I've never been a workman who blames his tools.

To try and salvage the drawing, I went over it all again with softer (2B; 4B) pencils and eventually, after a very many hours and much toil, achieved a result that was 'passable'. But it was bothering me that I'd had so much trouble so I just had to try again. I was unsure if the problem was the paper, the pencils, the blenders or me, I didn't want to change everything or I'd never answer the question. I've always felt happy with the pencils, the blenders have always worked before, and I didn't want to change 'me' or I'd have missed the experience, so I looked for a different paper. This time I chose Daler Rowney Heavyweight (220gsm).

Apart from the change of paper, I approached the whole thing as I did first time around ... but what a difference. The tones built up gradually, as planned, and the blending was smooth and delicate. I felt in control again and things were happening the way I wanted them to.

I can only conclude that the Extra Smooth Bristol Board just doesn't have enough tooth for this sort of work ... and if I'm wrong please don't tell me 'cause I'm finally feeling happy again. ;-)

42 comments:

  1. And happy you should be..!! Your perserverance paid off, I never doubted that you would 'get it right'.
    It was the paper .. way to smooth for blending.
    But back to your beautiful rose.. I'm glad to see how well you can do with flowers.. since I know your accomplishments with hard surfaces, buildings, rocks,metals, etc have always been excellent.. So now you have a softer side.
    Good for you .. Frame it. !! BJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much BJ, I really appreciate that. A softer side, eh? I'll never do flowers as well as you. ;-)

      Delete
  2. Such a pretty rose John! Keep on smiling :)
    Take care!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I admire your patience and perseverance - I enjoy the smoothness of Bristol Board but everyone works differently and has different styles (I start out with a softer graphite, usually a B and I tend not to layer) so maybe different papers match different styles of drawing, very interesting though. The result is beautifully delicate, have you ever tried chamois leather for blending - it works a treat in larger areas, well for me anyway - others may disagree!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon, I normally work with softer pencils and that might well have made the difference. No I haven't tried chamois leather ... I'll give it a go. Thank you very much.

      Delete
  4. John, this is such a beautiful rose and you were successful after the struggle! Excellent piece!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh what a stunner!

    Paper obviously made a huge difference - as we know it does in watercolour !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like so many things Pat, I think we all get on with some things better than others. Thank you for the nice comment.

      Delete
  6. That is a fabulous rose, John!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful work! Your graphite pieces are always a delight, John, and this is no exception. Other than outlines or sketches, I rarely draw, but I find Bristol board better for pen or pen and wash - pencils, particularly the harder ones, just dig in to the surface too much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right Michael and I know now to use soft pencils on Bristol Board in the future. It's all part of the journey. Thank you for the nice comment.

      Delete
  8. I agree with you wholly about Bristol paper! I'm not sure that it's to do with the smoothness though...
    When I do small portraits in my Moleskin, they blend beautifully and Moleskin's are very smooth - almost shiny smooth! And yet when I use my smooth Bristol paper, I find it very much harder to blend and very often end up with unwanted streaks and marks. Sometimes we use things because other Artists do, but what suits one clearly doesn't necessarily suit another. Will I buy another Bristol pad once this one runs out? No! But I might invest in some graphite powder, to see if that works better on that particular surface while i use it up!
    Your rose is absolutely beautiful! Delicate and not a streak in sight :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's reassuring to know I'm not alone in my struggle with Bristol Board Sandra. I will use the rest of my pad for pen work ... I think it will be excellent for that. I'm glad you like the Rose ... thank you. ;-)

      Delete
  9. Fabulous Rose John. I don't draw, I only do the basics that I need for a watercolour so I have no idea about shading or even what paper to use for the best results with graphite. Funny though as it looks like whatever medium we choose to use, the platform determines the outcome more so than the medium used. Interesting read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may well be right about the platform determining the outcome Laura. I'm glad you liked the post and the Rose. Thank you.

      Delete
  10. Skillfully executed...you have found your path!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I used to use board, but was often disappointed - Dalar board usually warped and bowed. These days I use a heavy cartridge paper for everything.

    Lovely and perfect white rose (Yorkshire?) John, expertly drawn. Enjoyed how you talked us through it too - interesting to see how folks go about their art business!
    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find it interesting that you were also disappointed with Bristol Board John.

      As a Lancastrian by birth I suppose I should have drawn a red rose. LOL. Glad you enjoyed the post and always enjoy your comments. Thank you.

      Delete
  12. The rose is very pretty black / white drawn. The drops of water are really beautifully done.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I saw both Roses, J and I thought your argument was with the background. It never entered my head you were unhappy with the roses as they are both beautiful. You are a Master with the pencil!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can understand the confusion Ingrid as I did two completely different backgrounds. For that reason I've only posted the 'final' drawing to my blog. Thank you for your lovely comment. ;-)

      Delete
  14. How interesting - I'm currently doing a pencil portrait (the money was too good) and the hardest pencil I'm using is a 2B hmm you've given me something to think about.

    This version (2?) is lovely.

    btw the supersmooth paper will be good for ink work ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much Sue. Normally I don't go any harder than 2B which is probably why I hadn't noticed a problem previously. And I will definitely be trying some ink work on this paper as soon as I can. ;-)

      Delete
  15. I just used a site www.artisticrealism.com to double check how they recommend drawing eyes and they use a 5H at one stage. I avoid pencil so much I had forgetten how to use the whole range (plus I don't have anything below HB)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, there's some amazing work on that site Sue. I see they use Canson Grain paper. Reading their tutorial was a very enthralling read. Good luck with your commission. ;-)

      Delete
  16. Hi John.
    What a brilliant Drawing John. Nobody could do better mate.
    It`s a beautiful rendering of a Rose. Well done John and all the best.
    Vic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much Vic. All the best.

      Delete
  17. hi john! thank you so much for your wonderful comment. your words help, they really do. sometimes one doesn't realize they've made progress until someone else is kind enough to point it out.

    i love your rose and have found working with pencil on a surface with no tooth to be excruciating! tooth give the shadows and blending a substance or "pattern" that smooth board doesn't. i've found on the smooth surface, i must "shade" with strokes and not blend. i also use my pinky for blending which works well for me.

    take care and thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Suzanne, how lovely to see you here. "Excruciating" ... yep, that about covers it. LOL. Take care. ;-)

      Delete
  18. Your patience paid off! Your rose is lovely. Kudos to you for hanging in there.

    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  19. How much would you sell this one for? My daughter says she wants to buy it to hang in her new room at her dads. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Catharina, I'm thrilled your daughter likes it. A nominal fee to cover mounting and postage would be great. I'll send you an email so we can make the arrangements. By the way, I sent you an email when you were having blog problems but I don't think it got through. If you don't hear from me shortly then please contact me through my site.

      Delete
  20. My daughter wonders about the size of the painting?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Replies
    1. Catharina it's about 6"x6" (16cm x 16cm). Have you not received my email?

      Delete
  22. Yes I have. I read it just now. Thank you. ;) you´ll hear from me in one or two days.

    ReplyDelete