Qin Shi Huangdi, who proclaimed himself the first emperor of China, built one of the wonders of the world when he ordered the creation of a veritable army of clay soldiers, horses, armaments, and a whole lot of other stuff. And since these treasures were excavated from his tomb, statues of them have been created and sold to those of us fascinated by these relics. I own one such statue, albeit it’s a small one.
It’s been a while since I’ve drawn in my slower-than-molasses style and I was feeling the need for it. I didn’t really take as much time as I probably should have but it was nice to sit, comfortably, and draw with some Miles Davis in the background. This sort of thing reminds me of the compromises we street sketchers make by sitting on tripod stools while juggling our materials in our laps (grin).
I start this sort of drawing with a mechanical pencil. I started by locating key parts of the figure, thinking only of lengths, angles and locations. Once I’m convinced that I’ve got the pieces and their locations on paper, I move on to fountain pen for the real drawing.
Some say “never use pencil..just go for it.” That’s fine, and I often do that myself. But it’s really liberating to know that the parts and their locations are defined because I can concentrate on drawing the arm without having to think about its relation to the head.
There’s another reason I like this approach. The pencil step I outlined above requires cognitive functions as elements are compared, sized, and located. Once done, however, I can let go, relying upon my visual cortex (that I work desperately to train) feed my motor cortex with info that guides my hand. No thought is necessary; I just do.
Once I did the basic drawing I made a decision not to hatch the shading but rather to use watercolor for the darks and colored pencil for the highlights. I was pretty happy with that decision. The Stillman & Birn Nova paper handled both well.