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Graham Scandrett: WORKSHOP, 20 & 27 Sept. 2013

Drawing with Rubbers

We were asked to bring:
Week 1
Cartridge paper,
Graphite sticks,
Putty and plastic rubbers,
Compressed charcoal (not willow sticks),
Charcoal pencils,
Photos of light on water and interesting building.

For Week 2 we also needed some Conté or other hard (not oil) pastels.
The first week's exercises were intended to get us thinking about tone - starting with a mid tone and working out to lighter and darker ones.

We were set two tasks: to do one painting in graphite and another in charcoal.

Graham started on a graphite one. Putting the paper onto the table he sharpened a graphite stick over it until he had enough shavings to be able to rub them evenly over the sheet with light touches of crumpled kitchen paper.
Noting that the sky was lighter than the sea he masked the area below the horizon and removed graphite from the sky with a plastic rubber.

N.B. It is vital to use only the plastic rubber with graphite because a putty rubber will just smudge it. The rubber will still need frequent cleaning.

The harder you rub, the whiter the resulting marks: some effort went into making the moon and its reflection light enough.

He finished this quick demo by adding some dark hills to the horizon with the sharpened graphite stick.
The evening was supposed to be a workshop, not a demo, so Graham didn't take the time to give more than a few token examples of working the same way with charcoal.

He made the mid tone starting point by rubbing the side of a compressed charcoal stick all over the paper, again smoothing it with light strokes of crumpled kitchen paper. The paper itself seems to create interesting texture. Willow charcoal would not have been flat enough, nor can it be removed so easily without smudging.

With a charcoal pencil he drew a few lines to indicate the sides of buildings and then rubbed down to a lighter tone for their sunlit sides. This time, for charcoal, the required eraser is putty rubber, not a plastic one. Darker areas can be created with more charcoal pencil or stick, as shown in "one he's done earlier".

With a final warning not to mix (matt) charcoal with (shiny) graphite Graham let us find out how well we had listened to what he had said!

For the rest of the evening he circulated around, commenting and advising us as our efforts progressed and leaving us all on tenterhooks wondering how the colour was going to be introduced next week.

Graham's "Honesty"
In fact Week 2 was pretty straightforward.

Graham had brought lots of artificial flowers and a selection of glass and metal still-life objects. He gave a brief demonstration from a sprig of honesty and showed us several other examples of the technique. There were some caveats:

You can use only charcoal for the background - pastel colour won't stick over slippery graphite
If you know that a big area (sky?) is going to be light, don't include it in the initial charcoal background
Start rubbing the charcoal off gradually (only putty rubber, remember), repeating it to get nearer to white

Graham's "Glass & Bottle"

Graham's "Trees"
Where you want more than a tinge of colour you have to take a lot of the charcoal off first. For example, if you put yellow pastel over black charcoal you will get green, not yellow
Apply general areas of colour with the side of the hard pastel. Putty rubber can remove excess pastel, too
Keep turning the putty rubber inside out so that it doesn't have fresh charcoal or pastel on its surface
Use charcoal pencil to sharpen edges
It is not cheating to use white pastel for very light areas!

. . . . . . . Graham's "Woods" . . . . . . .

Like last week we were then left to practice. As Graham said, it will be interesting to see if many of the paintings in the next exhibition use the rubbing out technique.
The comments I heard afterwards were all very favourable. I certainly enjoyed both evenings.

Thanks again, Graham.

The montages below show typical results, not by any means all finished.

Week 1 (graphite or charcoal)

Week 2 (charcoal and hard pastel)


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