After body replacement surgery

Charcoal on prepared paper, 16 x 20

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. This picture is a case in point.  It started out as a layout for an oil painting.  I like to do my preliminary plan for an oil in charcoal right on the painting surface.  Usually, the charcoal drawing is fairly rough with only the vaguest smearing to remind me of where the light will be coming from and which parts are positive or negative. When it works well, the charcoal under-color creates very interesting shadowing, a trick attributed to Titian.  I also like to paint on a “veil,” a lightly colored surface.  It is an old trick for creating a consistent color cast.  Renaissance painters used it frequently.  So, anyway, the first thing that happened is that I mixed too much color into my gesso solution, giving me a veil that was a bit darker than I wanted. Then, as I laid out my picture, I got carried away and made it much too precise.  The result: a charcoal drawing on a blue background.  If you happen to like the result, we will call it a “happy accident.” If you don’t, we will call it “what happens when the artist goes amok.”  Where did I go wrong?  Maybe instead of using a fat and soft charcoal stick, I used a hard compressed charcoal stick. Live and learn.

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