My regular model comes to visit me for a live drawing session every month. Last time it resulted in a pastel of her with a sharp razor light coming from the left. In continuation of this I limited the amount of light even more. This time I put only one single small LED light source next to her. I remembered my graphite pencil drawing Isis – 25-01-19 that had the same single light source. It generates a dramatic effect I always liked. Dutch masters such as Rembrandt used it but also the Italian chiaroscuro maestro Caravaggio.
I took a ‘minimalistic’ approach through which I merely focused on the light and dark contrasts around her body. This way I had the razor lights cause heavy doses of clairobscurity. The session was finished by rendering some tonal subtlety in her back muscles. I consider this drawing one of the more extreme works I made. Not a very commercial piece I think. It was fun though to see what hatching up the paper to an almost black would bring me.
In the 17th century the trick was to hide the light source by all means necessary. I think I know why now. It seems very difficult to depict light no matter what medium is used. The first radiates, the latter only reflects light when the surface is lit but less than the light source itself. Candlelight seems to look rather dull when it contrasts a hand that girds it. Such can be seen in Ruben’s painting Two Women with a candle. The light has the same value as the lit fingers and therefor I do not like it very much. I think my light source contrasts the adjacent dark negative space better. I cannot say how I would have tackled Rubens’ challenge though. Perhaps I will not ever try because of the aforedescribed physical impossibilties.
Graphite pencil drawing (Pentel 0.5 mm, 3B) on Canson Bristol paper (21 x 29.7 x 0.1 cm) – A4 format)
Artist: Corné Akkers
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