Mark Langley - Drawing Mr Fahrenheit
I have had this drawing in mind for a while. Most ideas for drawings come quite quickly, I use photographs as source material for all of my work, normally my own photographs taken on walks in the countryside, however hares being quite elusive this one required some additional reseach. The title came to me while I was scanning the final drawing, I prefer not to fight for the name.
1. I start with an outline leaving space around for fine adjustment of the precises position of the final composition later. The key points from the source photograph are needed, the classical painters would have used a grid for this, but I use a 'X' and 'Y' coordinates technique to establish this. I usually end up scaling upwards as the photgraphs are smaller normally.
2. Working on a draughtsmans drawing board makes it easy to rest my pencils on the ruler at the bottom. Here I have started filling in the hare from one end which prevents too much mess from smudging of any softer lead graphite pencils used. I use a good quality eraser to remove any smudges if needed.
3. Carrying on using the colour pencils (Caran d'Ache water soluable), I work each line in to the drawing quickly with a yellow, light and darker browns. Here each line is typically a slightly different direction to the next and varies in length from 2 - 5mm to sometimes about 7mm - 10mm. Lines vary as scale of the animal makes this different obviously. Keeping hairs random is my style, I personally don't like animals to hair perfect as its not natural looking. I use a HB and B graphite pencils when needed to add depth a bit more later to sharpen the hair effect.
4. I usually start from an eye or ear and work out, but increasingly I am working from a point on the left of the animal first. I am working down the leg and across the body over to the right here. I follow what feels right and go back to other bits at random as I see things that want balancing out.
5. Putting the other leg in and more body I start to feel other things can be brightness and contrast balanced. When I go and take a coffee break I always come back and fiddle with what I have already done before starting on new territory.
6. Sometimes I work along with progress on a portrait with a bit of the body structure that takes my interest. If I work over a lot in to the unused paper I either rotate or cover the paper with an old scrap of clean paper to save graphite smudges. The white paper is used for effect on this composition, so important to keep it as clean as possible.
7. Moving along the body further I use more of light or dark brown for coat variations. The lighter yellow would be a base colour roughly scribbled down in need quantity to add the right mix.
8. I keep loose in the hand and make quick random marks for the fur and build up large spaces. I get more tight and controlled as I build up and return with fresh eyes on every sitting.
9. A rotation of the paper helps to see things more clearly sometimes. I find the direction of hair lines is helped by turning the paper also. Strangely, I can only really feel ok about any finished area when it is the correct way up.
10. Pencils, eraser and photographs usually end up all over the drawing board as I work. It can get messy and I occasionally tidy things up. I hold 2 or 3 pencils at once and change them over. I brush and blow rubbings away and check for marks on the white paper every now and then.
11. The head goes in slowly, I don't draw far away from a small patch I am on as I am keen to make each bit work at any one time where possible. I would still look back at things and alter and refine anywhere also.
12. Now at Crowthorne Craft in Focus show I carry on work if not so well. I generally work on a piece of MDF board across my chair arms at shows and manned exhibitions whilst demonstrating work in action. I start to get the head right at this stage.
13. At this stage I start to feel he is almost drawn in. Returning to the head I find perhaps alterations and refinements are needed. I usually find a varion in moods at the end of drawing the subject in are useful to see a rounded end result. Completing the head to a point I decide to move on to the legs and now have more opportunities to return to the drawing with fresh eyes. Whiskers and lighter hairs are basically paper left white or a lighter colour in some areas. I have to colour one side and then bring the other in close whilst not losing the general back fill.
14. I have reached a point at the show where I feel the hare needs a ground, shadow with dust, dirt and small grass blades. This is the bit that needs you to sit back with an appropriate music CD to help set the mood of the animal. I got home, put a CD on that was appropriate to the fast mood of the hare and fiddled with the drawing for a few days until it felt right. I sharpen everything up with extra dark lines and sometimes an eraser to take bits back out that want a redraw.
The final image has become clear and so the composition position can take shape. I normally put a ruler or two, pieces of paper or old mount card corners around the white paper to decide where the exact edge of the image should be. In this case I had a plan that his body centre was one third in from the right side. Drawings with a complete background have the same process, just that I can colour the area and extend it if not quite big enough.
16. So 'Mr Fahrenheit' came to me when listening to the radio and the Queen song 'Don't Stop Me Now' came on, it felt a bit odd but right for the picture.
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