Compressed Charcoal Sketches, Portland 1990-1

These are the 5 to 10 minute warmup sketches we started each session with when I ran a life drawing group at my studio in India St. We used a single spotlight on the model to give simple shadow shapes to boldly reveal the form in high contrast. I got on much better with quick sketches when I learned that, for me, it is best to work big and draw with your whole body. These drawings were made with Korean soft compressed charcoal sticks about 1cm square cross section. They are very messy to use and the dust gets everywhere. Models usually went home with black feet. My favourite paper to draw these on was Borden & Riley’s Penny bond using a 24” by 36” pad.

The main object of these sketches was to ‘see’ a composition in each pose, use the light and shadow to encode the three dimensions while giving the sense of movement, thrust and gravity and catching the characteristic body language of each model with reasonably accurate proportions. Quite a tall order to get all this in five minutes.