- The Atelier
When laying eyes on a finely-rendered charcoal drawing, one's first reaction is often awe. Once the awe settles, one's second reaction is often how on earth did the artist do that? While infinite factors play in to creating a beautifully satisfying drawing (proper measuring, composition, gesture, form, light...), it is imperative to set these factors into motion with the proper materials; and when using these materials, one should prepare them in an exacting manner; and for a finely-rendered charcoal drawing, it behooves one to have finely-sharpened charcoal.
The charcoal drawings from the Aristides Atelier are made using H (hard) and HB (medium) and, on occasion, B (soft) vine charcoal. While Savoire Faire Nitram charcoals were favored by many, they have since gone out of business; at present, new students favor Prismacolor, Grumbacher, or Winsor and Newton. Here, Katt displays her unsharpened sticks of Prismacolor vine charcoal.
For the simple task of creating your own drawing board, it is best to first consider the size of the paper that you will be using for the drawing. For Fabriano Ingres thicker paper, which is 19 ½” x 27 ½”, it would be best to select a surface that is approximately 2 inches higher and wider (21 ½” x 29 ½”). I usually purchase a ½”x 30”x40” piece of black Gatorboard from Daniel Smith, as it is light, sturdy, and can be cut into smaller pieces without the use of power tools.
A pencil to mark measurements, a long metal ruler and a big enough cutting device to completely pass through the ½” if material will also be needed. I usually simplify the task by making one cut across the long side at 22” so that my final measurement is 22” x 30”, then cut the remaining piece down to two smaller boards to use for smaller projects.
This under-painting of Aurora is on oil primed linen, 14”x32”. I have found that working large forces me to do a more thorough job on each form before moving ahead. This painting has a grey toned ground about value number 3. (I wanted the background to be a darker value without resorting to a thick layer of paint for my wipeout.)
The Artist's Statement and its purpose
The artist’s statement as informative accompaniment:
An artist’s statement is a brief text meant to explain, justify, and contextualize the work.
It often answers the questions: “What kind of work do you do? And why do you do it?”
A well-crafted and concise statement inspires viewers to gaze more intensely upon the work and enhances their appreciation of it. A poorly crafted and lengthy statement frustrates the viewer and may lead to mockery and contempt.
The Atelier did a special focus on print making this fall. We worked with a professional print shop, in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, called Sev Shoon. The students spent many Fridays engaged in a crash course of learning to etch under expert guidance.
It was fun to walk through the shop hear the music and see the energy generated by so many serious students working together. It was different from our monastic, quiet studio environment. The drawing on the copper plate was done in silence but the technical aspect of printing was communal. There was much laughter along with the frustration of learning a new skill.