Happy May Day! It feels like vandalism to post Will's drawings with the glare of reflective glass ghosting over the image.... But this one recently went out to a private collection and this is the best image we have of it.
Nope, I love working with many, used in turn, when I go to my figure sessions [twice weekly to ‘keep my chops’ tuned], so I get to love each in turn, so long as I can keep it sharp [by going to the next of the same hardness/softness], and most of all when my muse decides it’s going to do me an acceptable drawing.
First, I’d have you back up to think about why you want to use this technique. I’d start by defining it more broadly as ‘hatching’, meaning: an organized grouping of [usually, but not always], parallel lines that can ‘read’ as a tonal area.
That way you can think about how you want the lines you lay down to support what you’re drawing. There are many ways they can work: they can speak to the play of light on solids [shade and shadow], describe the topography of a surface, or serve as overlapping ‘curtains’, allowing some parts to appear as being ahead or behind others, and so on. Those are three very different attitudes of application, and there are many more.
Try recognizing that ‘anatomy’ includes a lot, muscles among many other types of tissue, like fascia, tendons, the skin, hair patterns, veins, when prominent. There’s also adipose fat, which, in some figures, can obscure any definition of individual muscles nearly completely. It’s certainly worth careful study to enable recognition of muscles ‘individually’ [an example commonly understood is the biceps of the upper arm].
It’s also the case that in a ‘live’ figure, either human, other animal, or fish, muscles always work in groups. People and animals come lean, moderately or grossly fat, or very skinny with not enough to eat. For me it was slowly coming to understand the bones [anybody’s] are profoundly three-dimensional in nature, and evolved on staggeringly complex geometry, all their own, while remaining stable no matter what happens, excluding disasters likes fractures or arthritis, so if the places they show become integrated into your thinking [when working from the model], whether ‘revealed’ as knobs, or dimples, in an obese individual, they’ll ‘tell’ you a lot. Elbows, wrists and fingers all are bearers of these characteristics, as are knees and backbones. I hope that’s helpful, for a start.
I wondered who figured out YOUR ‘correct position’. There are quite a number of ways one can hold a pencil, with some ‘correct’ for certain ‘jobs’, while inefficient for others. My suggestion is, in the first place, that you not get habituated to ‘one size fits all’.
As example; when I need to use a very light touch, I back my hand [way] up, close to the unsharpened end, using a fairly new [full-length] pencil. Sometimes; particularly while standing to draw from the figure the rhinoceros, at the zoo, I anchor the butt end of the pencil centered in my palm, and grasp with thumb, index, middle finger, and sometimes the third, or ring finger. I can think of six other grips; all useful, all related to what I see happening on the page, or when I’m lettering, from darkest darks,etc., to fast sketch work, or slow and deliberated. Each works well for some things, not well on the others.
Well, I hope to answer as honestly as best I can without being a smart-pants. The first thing asked is: what are the functions of a beating heart, an active brain, an appetite, digestion, or breathing? They all share, critically, in keeping one alive.
Of course, like ‘art’, they aren’t the only functions that allow one to live; especially if you have, and value to have, a wife, kids, and grandkids, and your house, your animals. They keep you alive, too, even if every once in a while you may also think about strangling them. Same’s true for friends, colleagues, team-mates, even enemies. Art feeds one emotionally, contemplatively, intellectually, physically. It offers frustration, stimulation, and challenge, as well as sometimes giving one fits. Fundamentally, it is the drive to follow one’s curiosity, and make things as well as one can. That’s been sustained since paleolithic times, even as we’re now confronting the first generation that’s had to ask why.
Will taught design and drawing at Harvard University from 1964-2002. An ongoing project is the organization of his course material, recently, as he's been thinking over these matters, he has made some commentary at the Quora website.
With Will's permission, I am gathering his commentary here in his blog--not least so these writings are easily accessible as work on the drawing course materials progresses.
Will is a sculptor and draftsman, living and working in Cambridge, MA.
If you have any interest in owning an artwork by Will, feel welcome to put in a preliminary query to Katya.
Artwork depicted on this site that is not given a citation may be available, though the primary purpose of this site is not as a sales center. Many singular items are in the family or private collections and NFS.
Will continues to accept commissions, as time permits.
Kristen Beaumont Reimann
(an incomplete list by reverse order of entry date by Katya - who stopped writing "polymath" at the end of each description, because it described pretty much every one of these individuals)
Dan Wilson - Musician, Songwriter, Artist.
Sandro Carella - Artist, Instructor, Musician.
George Wilson - Master Luthier - the first link is to the first of a series of videos on harpsichords George built for Colonial Williamsburg, this second is his bibliographical interview).
Julie Zickefoose - Naturalist, Author, Musician.
Martha Beck - Life Coach, Author.
Louis Bryden - Artist.
Timothy M. Sweeney, MD - Emergency Physician, Medical Illustrator.