Sunday, January 05, 2014

African Violet

One of the things that I would like to do this year is slow down and make better work.  Back at the beginning of December, Kev Ferrara pointed out that I ought to be drawing with more sensitivity and I agreed.  My pencils have gone to hell since I took up ink.  I think I have the expectation that I can go over everything twice, so I don't need to get it right the first time.

So I promised that once my deadlines were up and the holidaying over with, I would do more work in pencil, and let it never be said that I don't keep my promises when it suits me to!  I've been working on this African violet since January 1st or so.

I admit, it was a harsh start.  I started with the outlines of the flowers to the left and worked my way right until I hit a logical stop.  The first thing I discovered is that my pencil sharpener is crap.  I am going to have to dig out my leadholders and avoid splintered leads.  Or start sharpening the pencils with sandpaper.  The next thing I discovered is that my hands shake.  How do I manage to work in ink?  I don't know!  I think I save it for the afternoon, when the coffee has worn off.

Thirdly, my accuracy is crap.  Thank god I draw plants.  Nobody ever knows how wrong I got them.

I did enjoy shading all those scalloped leaves, though.  They are so beautiful and fuzzy and folded and variegated.  I wish I could remember what this variety of violet is called.  I once received a number of cuttings from a family friend of my in-laws so I have a few unusual varieties.  I used to have more but some fell victim to various moves and lack of attention on my part.  This is one that has always done particularly well.

My tips for pencil drawings: keep your pencils nice and sharp and work from left to right (or opposite if you're a lefty) so you aren't dragging your hand through the graphite and smearing everything.  It's a good rule to adopt while working with ink, too.  And keep your eraser clean by rubbing it on a clean piece of scrap paper or you'll inevitably end up with a dark blotch where you don't want it.

I hesitate to call this drawing a success, but at least it is a good start.  I will try to have one still life or another on the go pretty much all year.  I suppose one of these years I should do a Bargue or cast drawing but honestly I'd rather just get more accurate with violets.

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