Part 2: Project 1- Space, depth and volume
‘NARCISSUS’ 1560 – ? Valerio Cioli 1529-99
I feel to have achieved a real sense of depth with the figure, Narcissus, without any use of outlining. I’m thinking that the most important thing is that, as you begin to draw, you don’t see the image in terms of outline. From the start, it is volume, depth and space so that as soon as the first marks go down on the page, you’re beginning to ‘sculpt’ the image from the surface. But with only two dimensions to work with, your only tool is light. I’m interested to think of light as a tool and it’s a most demanding tool. In this drawing the play of light across the back of the figure produces all the tension and rhythm of the structure of the bones and muscles, the volume of the shape of the body and the depth of the figure on the page. I found that the slightest carelessness or sloppy observation in the tonal values had alarming results, completely changing the shape of some parts of the figure and losing the ‘believable’ illusion of space and depth.
There was no need to use any outlining of the figure and it’s interesting to compare it to other sketches I’ve done at the V&A.
These were done mainly using line and a pencil and while the figures have volume there is not the same strong illusion of space and depth as in the figure done with the rubber and charcoal. They remain sketches, partly because there is nothing happening in the space around the figure I suppose. Considering the section in part 1 on using space, this makes for some consideration…!
The section of the drawing of Narcissus which excites me the most is in the bottom right hand corner where the underside of the foot can be seen. Because of the play of light against dark, the foot appears to be jutting out of the picture plane towards the viewer.
Another point that I’d like to make is that confining the drawing to the use of the rubber and the charcoal has resulted in a piece of great subtlety. From the charcoal stick, it wasn’t possible to achieve the strong dark which I would have liked, to indicate the trapped areas of dark and at first I felt rather restricted by this. But now I just love the subtle and almost imperceptible changes of tone.