Willow Charcoal

Willow charcoal is a very good medium for producing strong but fluid line drawings. When we are using line, we must have a clear view of our aims and objectives. This is true of any type of drawing, of course, but line does offer so many different ways for us to express our ideas. One of the most enigmatic things about line is that it is a pure metaphor (a metaphor is something that acts for something else). Artists who paint reference colour, and artists who sculpt reference form or shape. Line is a pure visual language that we can use either expressively or analytically relative to our observations.

1/4 In figure 1 you can see that two lines have been drawn opposite each other. Taken together, these two lines give the impression of a concaved shape. When this type of line is used to describe reality, as in figure 4, it becomes apparent that, although you have drawn or copied what you have seen, the end result does not necessarily describe what is there.

2/5 Here again we have the same problem, one line that implies a concave and the other line implying a convex. When we apply this to reality, or we draw what we see (as in figure 5), we sense that the illusion is not working.

3/6 In figure 3 we see two lines that imply convex edges of a form. These two lines working opposite each other now begin to imply the illusion of an ovoid form that is pushing them out. If you now look at figure 6, you can see that the area of the neck has a sense of form and volume. This is due to the use of convex lines that work in tandem with each other.

7/8 These two further comparisons highlight this phenomenon. Figure 7 is a drawing of a head and torso drawn very literally, as we might see it. In other words, we have drawn the truth. However, 'art is a lie that enables us to see the truth', said Picasso. The dotted lines highlight the concave areas on the figure, and if drawn in a concave way the sense of volume is denied.

In figure 8 we see the same figure in the same pose but drawn with lines that are convex. These lines break into the figure, creating the idea of overlap. This system of drawing gives an illusion of form and volume in space. This is very much how artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Rubens, and others would use line as a metaphor to create the illusion of form and volume in space.

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