Tag Archives: Victorian

Andromeda reimagined

We had a wonderful model in Stroud last week, who held a difficult sitting pose over three hours. I was pleased with the way she came on, drawn entirely in pencil, but at the end, I had clearly squeezed her legs in, spoiling the proportions,and gave her a rather sour expression, which was quite unjust.

So I took her home and set to work. First, added a strip of matching paper at top and bottom so I could correct her legs and complete her head. Then I reworked nearly the entire drawing, until I was generally happy with her look. That is one of the joys of pencil and graphite. If you use good quality pencils and paper, you can rub out and rework endlessly. It actually seems to improve the drawing, giving it a deeper overall look. I thought that the studio cushions looked a bit like rocks, so went to town on them, and she quickly became Andromeda, sitting on the rocks at the edge of the sea.

But this Andromeda isn’t the poor sacrificial girl in Burne Jones painting that I copied a few months ago. She was forced to wait in chains to be claimed by Perseus, if he won, or be eaten by the dragon if he lost. My girl has got shot of chains, and Perseus, and is thinking what she plans to do next. I think she may suggest to the dragon that he goes and has a frank discussion with her parents as to why exactly they had changed up their daughter on the beach.

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Lots of Victorian ladies

I found a lovely book in one of our second hand bookshops. A compendium of images of women from the 19th century. All are wood engravings from the likes of the London Illustrated News. The quality of the images is astounding. I am trying to copy several of them, just to see how they did it.

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It is near impossible to accurately mimic them in pen. They are essentially white lines engraved onto a black background. With pen it is the reverse, black on white. You can reproduce some of the linear work, but crosshatch fails. It goes darker on the pen drawing but lighter on the engraving. I will try to do some copies without trying to follow the linear original later.