I have been continuing to struggle with capturing my son ‘in an activity’ climbing.  I initially went for A1 on paper for a line only drawing pose (around 2 hours, like assignment 4).  After sketching my son in situ and taking photos I found I was drawn to one pose in particular.  On reflection I realise it was way too tricky for me but I wanted to push myself and thought by working on and trying to work out the awkward pose I could get it to work.  However, despite the preliminary work I realised that without the rocks, (in the background), the image of my son hanging from a large rock is unclear because the angle of the posture is off and the left leg in front of his body looks weird and too small and in the photograph.

A1 using pencils 7-9 B


Another failed attempt at capturing my son climbing indoors using soft B pencil and photo of my son climbing outdoors.

I failed to create any tension or any idea of movement because I worked from the photo and used grades of pencils, such as 7B upwards, that were on reflection too heavy and therefore smudgy, making the line drawing fussy and unclear but worst of all – no action again!  In order to try and find out why it did not work I used some carbon copy sheets to trace the outline of the above drawing to see if the basic elements of the body could work.  Then I wanted to see what it would look like to trace over the simplified copy onto a clear acetate sheet, and then place it over the top.  The reason for this, is a previous experiment I tried out for the acrylic trio painting of my son climbing indoors.  By drawing over the same image and moving the acetate sheet slightly off I thought might create some action, it didn’t work but that’s ok.


On the left carbon trace copy of above drawing and image repeated onto an acetate sheet.  Below I then tried to combine the two to create an illusion of movement.

After a little experimenting with the image I moved on.  I chose finer pencil grades of 2H, H and a B, as I normally choose much softer.  I decided the new line drawing was better suited to A2 size as it is a large enough size and it felt right going back to a pose I had already sketched in situ as I think it is more natural. Additionally the figure is not reliant on the background to inform the viewer of what the body is supposed to be doing.

In order to get myself to loosen up and get used to using harder pencil grades I doodled mark making strokes to help get a feel for what effect the pressure and different directions has on paper.  Once I got into drawing I also mimicked the general pose myself, (obviously not actually climbing), just so I could note where in the body the tension is held, which I think helped.  The drawing is an improvement on the other attempts and has a better composition, the legs are not as developed as I would like but I am happier with the shoulders, forearms and hands because the upper body looks like they are stretching and holding onto something.  Overall, I need to work on balancing the whole figure because the legs and feet are not as convincing as the upper part of the body but I decided to stop after around 2 or so hours and move on!

Above is the drawing before the below completed piece.  I added this to show how the first hour was spent using the harder pencils as lightly as possible before going in heavier.  I have a habit of overworking the image and after changing my approach I felt I had learnt and understood this is now my way forward when drawing.  The harder pencils allows you to build up an image better and more accurately.

A2 using 2H, H and B pencil

Sketchbook doodles trying out pressure and direction for helping me to refine my use of harder pencil grades.


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