Prud’hon method

Self-portrait in charcoal and white chalk
Self-portrait in charcoal and white chalk

In the third year at the atelier, Rob started teaching us different techniques which will eventually lead to color temperature theory. Leaping into technique was a little daunting, as I was still (am still!) struggling to get an accurate rendition of the figure on my paper. Rob has an exacting eye, and with his help, I’m slowly learning to see where I go wrong in the initial stages of a drawing. These days, when I’m working on a drawing, I don’t just accept the first marks that go on my paper; instead, I try to use a more critical approach.  And measure, measure, measure.

After we started working on colored paper, Rob introduced the Prud’hon method. Prud’hon was a French Romantic painter who produced some amazing drawings using toned paper, charcoal, and white chalk. A brilliant Bay Area teacher, Rebecca Alzofon (who, unfortunately is no longer teaching) has a tutorial on the Prud’hon method. I rarely follow tutorials, but I did follow some of this, and found it helpful to build on what I’d learned in Rob’s class.)

There’s a lot of smudging going on with this method. Tone is put down by a series of hatch marks, which are then smudged and blended. Charcoal and chalk can be blended, or not. After you’ve built the volume and form, to accent areas, you use line—not contour line, which would go across the form, but rather, line that follows the direction of the form.