Sunday last October 17th in Aachen my parents and I visised the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of Albrecht Dürer and contemporaries. Crime scene: Suermondt-Ludwig Museum at Aachen, Germany. Aachen always is a enchanting place to visit with its Aachener Printen and of course to follow Charlemagne’s footsteps. They are scattered all over the place and imprinted in the Aachener Dom and the Aachen Cathedral Treasury (Domschatzkammer). When in Aachen I never went to the very museum before. It resides at the outskirts of the old centre and it is not a logical place to visit except for special exhibitions. And so there was one! Never before were there so many of his works in one place after he died. Do you want to know a secret? I was a little bit jealous of his drawing skills. How was he able to draw such thin lines?
Before visiting the museum we went for a little stroll around the cathedral, also not to miss out on those Printen! Walking full circle there it presented itself: a lovely side view I remembered from earlier trips in 1991 and 2004. Dürer’s works still messing with my head I recalled he did a drawing of the cathedral too (in 1520) I could see from his drawing he held a higher vantage point and farther away. The fun part is it looks exactly the same 500 years ago as it still stands today. There was a bigger tower on the Palatine Chapel though.
Surely I had to do my best because, compared to Dürer’s works, I have broad shoulders to stand on. Studying his very drawing I saw he had a rather linear approach. That is where I could beat him at his game. He did not know anyting about impressionism and so I rendered my graphite pencil drawing in this style. It is a perfect way to suggest lots of details without actually having to depict them. Throwing in details is a precarious matter anyway and easily leads to a messy impression. The sun was just above the cathedral’s nave and so the mass of the architecture appeared dusky anyway. It was perfect for my impressionistic aim.
With the refined graphite pencil techniques of Geesje Kwak – 08-10-21 still in my fingers this one was not very difficult. It took a lot of time though. Many people would think drawing all those details takes pain staking skills. Actually it is the absence of details and only the suggestion of them that is difficult. What is need is a subtle draftswork in order to keep an even tonality all across the building structure. That takes time and muscle control.
Low and Behold! On the actual square in front of the cathedral I thought I saw Abul-Abbas, Charlemagne’s elephant for a moment. What I liked about those Germans the most is that they worship their Elephant God. They even released an air balloon in the shape of an elephant. On its side there was this promotional poster with Dürer on it. How thoughtful! Therefor it was more than justified to incorporate them both in my drawing.
Graphite pencil drawing (Sakura 0.5 mm, 4B) on Talens Bristol paper (21 x 29.7 x 0.1 cm) – A4 format)
Artist: Corné Akkers
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