Conte and watercolor on Yupo

W. S. Currie 2017.  Hope.  Black conte and grey watercolor on Yupo, 14 x 11.  

W. S. Currie 2017.  Hope.  Black conte and grey watercolor on Yupo, 14 x 11.  

If you've been reading other entries in my artist blog, you know that I like to explore and experiment with using a variety of drawing media on different surfaces and that I also like to explore ways to combine drawing and painting.  Here I used a grey watercolor paint for washes, combined with a black conte pencil and black conte sticks for drawing.  Conte is one of my favorite drawing mediums.  I usually use it dry on dry paper, but it is somewhat water-soluble so it is possible to brush over it with water and soften some of the drawing marks.  What makes this work even more experimental is the Yupo.  Yupo is a sheet of polypropylene.  Water does not penetrate into it, so water-based paint beads up, flows, and mixes in irregular patterns, eventually drying and leaving spontaneous effects behind.  It is an exciting surface to draw and paint on, but not very forgiving because erasing or correcting are not really possible.  Here, I explored using a drawing medium (conte) to make a wide variety of marks:  bold marks, softened marks blurred with a tissue, and scribbles brushed over with water and watercolor paint to take advantage of the spontaneous effects created when the water dries.  I also came up with an innovative technique to get the soft grey shadows on the face; I sanded a conte stick to make a fine powder, then brushed the conte powder onto the Yupo gently with a dry sable brush and smeared it with a tissue.  

I titled this work "Hope" because in the posture, the distant look, and the slightly clenched hand, the young woman looks like she is hoping something good will happen, or hoping something bad will not happen, or maybe something has already happened and she is hoping it will turn out OK.  The slight smile suggests that overall, she is feeling positive.  

This work derives from a set of sketches that I made from a live model, Samantha Watkins.  Samantha is a longtime family friend who recently graduated from college with a degree in performing arts.  I caught up with her when she was visiting her parents, our friends, in Dexter, Michigan before moving to New York City.  We had two modeling sessions in which I did a couple dozen sketches, so watch for more drawings and paintings of this model.