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Kelly Borsheim's Art of the Human Form - Charcoal Figure Drawing

[art drawing of nude male figure]

Second Thoughts

64 x 46 cm (25 x 18")
charcoal with pastel / carboncino con pastelli
grey Roma-brand paper
© 2008-9
Kelly Borsheim

(Private Collection

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[detail of drawing of nude male model]

"Second Thoughts" - Original Charcoal Drawing of Nude Man

Here is a detail shot of "Second Thoughts" depicting a nude man leaning, half sitting on a tall table. I learned a lot from this drawing, my first drawing of a live model using white pastel on grey paper with charcoal. In reality, my easel was located so close to the wall in the studio (and behind an architectural column jutting out against that wall) that I could not see the elbows, the shadow cast upon the wall, or half of the table. When I was ready to place these elements, I would walk behind the other working artists in the room to note the various relationships of the shapes and forms that I could not see with the shapes that I could see. To get the table in perspective, I moved the table out away from the wall and changed my easel location accordingly. This, of course, occurred after the model was finished working for the day and the others had gone.

Still, the gesture was better from this angle. So was the lighting.

[notan drawing of nude male model]

"Second Thoughts" - Notan Drawing of Nude Man

All of my drawings start out this way -- by choosing an abstration of the shapes before me, distinguishing between light and dark. The entire hair area has yet to be toned dark. I have drawn first the outline of the figure and props to determine the gesture I want. It is much easier to move a line than a tone. But once I fill in the shapes for everything in shadow, I can look again to decide whether or not these shapes make up an interesting pattern. A drawing at this stage of basic tones -- only two or three -- is called notan. Next, I will set the tones for my background before glazing-in the fall of light over the entire figure. Then I will begin to develop the shadow areas.

I have done several drawings of Joshua, a model from Chicago who was studying in Florence, Italy, at the time I met and worked with him. Man, can that guy cook up a mean Thanksgiving dinner -- especially impressive in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving! This drawing sold on the layaway plan shortly after I brought it back to America.

[transporting a drawing of nude male model]

"Second Thoughts" - Original Charcoal Drawing of Nude Man

I drew Joshua in a studio in the central part of Florence, Italy. But I lived outside of centro. I spent as many hours as I could working in the studio after Joshua left, smoothing details and continuing the drawing based on memory and notes I had made on the drawing during our modeling sessions. But at some point, we were finished and I had to take the drawing home on my bike. I taped a thin squared wooden rod on each long side of the drawing board and then taped another board on top of that, leaving an air space above my mounted paper.

Then I strapped the entire thing, with the drawing facing up, to the back of my bike on the rack above the tire. I took my usual route home -- using the bike path that follows the Arno River upstream, crossing over the Ponte San Niccolò (ponte = bridge) and on up to Via Piagentina. Along the way, I found a BRAND NEW and real Christmas tree, wrapped up even, propped up against a dumpster. It smelled divine -- imagine my delight!

But as tempting as it was, I was afraid to load it up on my bike on top of my already awkwardly large and fragile load. Instead, I told my landlady about the tree once I arrived home. But I only had time to unload my drawing before riding back into centro to meet a friend for a movie. So she and her husband brought their car over and picked it up, marveling at another of my successes at "dumpster diving". [I was relieved that they had their first experience with recycled goods, if for no other reason than it becoming clear that I did not steal the tree!]

So, I digress, as I often do. Everything is connected, you know. Anyway, when I finally unwrapped the drawing the next day, I saw the damages. You can see some charcoal scratched off over the knees, for example. But seriously, look at the LOVELY squiggly pattern created from the side to side movement of my wooden bars on the edges. Fantastic, really.
Thanks for reading,
Kelly Borsheim

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Most recent revision: 3 January 2010