Red chalk

Here are some sketches in a limited range of pastels or conte crayons, intended as exercises in tone and texture.

Half a millennium ago, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti were creating exquisite detailed drawings from layered fine strokes of red and black chalk. In da Vinci’s interpretation of a thicket of trees, each crumb of pigment is a leaf, is light or shade.  Michelangelo’s horses writhe as Phaethon falls from the skies.

Many of these drawings are held by our monarch in the Royal Collection, the da Vinci doodles snapped up by Charles II.  The Michelangelo drawings are on display in the Royal Academy and those by da Vinci are currently distributed in galleries across the UK.  Their art marked a step change in Western thought: observation as a systematic process, which also underpins the development of science.

19 responses to “Red chalk

  1. These are great. You’ve used the materials in very different ways for the carving and the dog. The dog drawings are joyous and you’ve captured each glint of light on the fur. I’ve previously seen Da Vinci drawings here and again at half term in Glasgow. They are exquisite. The preparation of the drawing service is mesmerising too. Makes me pause for thought when the most I do is sharpen a pencil. There was a map in the original exhibition I saw which has stayed with me too.

    • If you have time in Friday, BMAG is worth a look. As well as the da Vinci’s, there is the Women Power Protest show and one I want to see called Too Cute which I glanced at and which looks sinister, but with lots of puppets to sketch.

    • Your point about preparation of materials is well taken. It must have been a pain, compared to our taking stuff off the shelf, but might almost have been like spiritual preparation for making art, like meditation.

      • It’s made me want to step back and see if there is any unconscious prep I take part in. I assuming very little, but we’ll see I bought an ink stick recently, yet to be used, but the grinding of this on ink stones is another meditation/preparation by artists. I feel like a felt tipper in comparison.

      • “Felt tipper” 🙂
        But perhaps that is the real point – sketching using ready made materials versus making art which begins with he process of preparation.

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