Emissaries is a drawing made from charcoal, acrylic and chalk pastel on paper. I created it in 2013. The drawing measures 111.8 cm x 76.2 cm (including the frame).
I work in charcoal because carbon, its main ingredient, lends itself to a wide variety of light and dark effects. The generous range of this medium enables me to create convincing illusions of volume and depth. These visual gymnastics are what people react to when they admire how the subject matter “looks real”. Although there is something seductive in the art of making things appear round or far away, for me the real artistry is intuitively knowing where to tone down and where to illuminate, and how to interweave these qualities in a composition so that the presence of each makes the other more magical and compelling. The interplay of light and shadow on form is what has always most captured my imagination as an artist, and in its embrace a building or a person or any other subject can transcend its own properties and join the dazzling poetry of visual experience.
In the drawing Emissaries, I imagined a woman in a dark interior approaching a portal that permits the passage of light and movement from beyond. The butterflies spilling into her shadowy introverted space are emissaries from a radiant and better place. I asked myself how I could convey a sense of boundless possibilities, as she closes her eyes and breathes in this experience. With charcoal and some touches of colour, I tried to answer the question.
In preparation for this drawing, I made a paper butterfly that I attached with a glue gun and wire to a wooden stand. The wire permitted me to bend the wings into various positions. I photographed this butterfly from a range of viewpoints and with different wing positions. I also made a wall and a portal out of cardboard, a cheap oval picture frame and some wallpaper. I photographed a female model adjacent to the portal with carefully arranged lighting, and I did a digital collage using components from these photographs. The digital collage served as my point of departure to make the drawing. The medium was charcoal, and for the colour sections, I first applied a thin layer of acrylic paint and then used colour pastel pencils on top. From one photo of a butterfly, I was able to create a virtual wall paper pattern and to then digitally skew this pattern into perspective, which was a useful reference for me to draw a “wallpaper” pattern of butterflies in the drawing.
Click on the “VIEW EXHIBIT” button to see the drawing followed by a series of images that tell a visual tale of the process described above. The series of images ends with a close-up detail of the drawing.