Artwork Description

Jericha, Seated, 2014

32″ x 47″; charcoal, chalk and gouache on paper toned with acrylic, gesso, and pumice gel

Jericha, Seated is a life-sized figure drawing, completed in 2014.

I’d been wanting to tackle a large-format drawing for a while. This presented number of challenges, not just the time of execution. The first was the actual paper; I prefer to work on toned paper, and generally favor a light blue with a texture smoother than most commercially available papers, but not as smooth as watercolor paper. There was no paper available at the size of this piece that was suitable, so I made my own by cutting from a large roll of watercolor paper, soaking it in the bathtub, stapling it down to a large sheet of 3/4″ plywood, and then toning it myself with a mixture of acrylic gesso, blue and green acrylic paint, acrylic matte medium, and extra-fine pumice gel (for tooth).

Then there was the issue of the weight of the board itself; it was too big for my easel, so I had to drill hooks into the wood and build a wire harness to tie it to the easel so it wouldn’t tip over.

I only had about 30 hours with the model for this piece, which would be nowhere near enough for the level of finish I wanted, so it was very important to have a solid foundation to work from after she was gone. I spent the first ten hours just placing dots on the paper that corresponded to key anatomical points, measuring and cross-measuring. I used a sight-size method of standing back about three feet from the easel, which was itself about ten feet back from the model, to get very close to life-sized on the paper.

Once I was sure the structure was good, the block-in began, and then refinements went from there. The amount of time needed to just put the charcoal down with a pencil was much more than you might suspect. In painting, you can cover a large area with a large brush, but there is no shortcut for a pencil. I used some Pan Pastel with a smallish applicator in certain flat areas just for an initial layer, but it all had to be gone over again several times with pencil.

Finally, after I thought I was done, I realized that I could push the contrast range farther, especially with the darks in the hair, and went back over the entire piece again, pushing and fine-tuning.

I could not have done this without the exceptional patience and body awareness of my model, Jericha Senyak, hands down the best model I have ever worked with. She could snap back into the pose without any guidance at all and find the exact position practically effortlessly, which is rare for even the best models.

I worked on this piece long after she moved from the area; it was framed by Ani Rivera at Valley Frame Works in Amherst, MA. It was a finalist in the 2014 ARC Salon in the drawing category.