Dust and Thunder
18" x 24"
Color Pencil on Uart 600
Upon completion of Dust and Thunder yesterday, I couldn't help but think about how much I have learned from this drawing. Much of it's process has been an exercise in managing discomfort -- a frequent and nagging sensation that what I was attempting to do each step of the way may not get the result I was going for. In retrospect, this feeling was probably born primarily from approaching a subject in ways quite foreign to me..........the dreaded unknown.
During a previous blog post I discussed how controlling contrast can impact composition. Effective handling of contrast can help to lead a viewer's eye through a painting or drawing, and ideally the focal point should have the strongest contrast of edges. With Dust and Thunder, I attempted to impact the contrast through color and edge control. My previous assertion that my goal would be to make the appaloosa horse the focal point, may have been unrealistic -- given the prominence of the two largest dark horses. However, I attempted to draw attention to the appaloosa in a couple of ways. First, in my reference photographs the brightly lit area behind the horses did not extend as far left as it does in my drawing: I extended the brightness behind the appaloosa, to create contrast through both the use of values and color. Secondly, I attempted to keep the edges of this horse's neck and head fairly sharp, as hard edges also increase contrast thereby drawing the onlooker's eye. For similar reasons, I had to work very hard to keep most of the foreground foliage very loose and soft: too much detail there (hard edges) would have distracted from where the areas of interest needed to be. As it is my tendency to feel as if I must place every little detail (okay....yes....I have control issues), this was quite an undertaking for me. Finally, because colors of high contrast or intensity at the margins can pull a viewer's eye out of the image, I attempted to slightly darken the values of the sunlit dust on both the left and right-hand margins.
I have the distinct feeling that the process of this piece and the many things I have learned, of which the above is just a sampling, will change my future artwork: how and to what degree, I do not know. Clearly in both life, and art, there is a lot to be said for pushing oneself beyond one's comfort level.
Thanks for reading.