The Face of David, in Pencil

November 20, 2012

A great use of graphite from artist Linda Huber. From the artist: I started work on this 2 foot drawing 1-3-11 and finished on 1-26-11. The reference was small but very clear so I was able to work from it. I used a 2 inch grid, have to say working on such a large drawing can be difficult so that grid was a huge help. Since the David statue is made out of solid marble I needed to visualize the smoothness, the slight imperfections, the veins, and most of all the depth of the carvings....it is the carvings along with the cast of light that make up the shapes I needed to draw. Take the eye for example, the eyelid is very deep so you know that this shadow needs to be VERY dark and slightly lighter in the foreground, light as you know fads to black in shadow. I used a 4b mechanical pencil for the lid of the eye and the pupil, I kept the pencil strokes very tight and used medium to hard pressure (not hard enough to indent the paper). I layered the area until it was as dark as the shadow depth.

Another example is the eyebrow shadows. I could see from the reference the carvings under the brow are not as deep as that eyelid so the shadows will be drawn lighter, I used a B pencil for most of that area. Since the light is cast down from above part of the eyebrow that protrudes out is lit up, but there are some shallow carvings on the brow that needed to be shadowed.... I used a blending stump that had a little graphite on the tip to color in those light shadows on the brow.

Have to say this drawing has the greatest shadow play so I enjoyed working on it. I layered the face with B many times, and then layered a bit more. One thing I wish I had done differently was to give it a border. While I was drawing I did a little research on the statue of David and learned a few things that I didn't know so I'd like to share them with you:

In 1464 artist Agostino was commissioned to create a sculpture of David for the buttresses (roof) of the cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore. He worked on the block of marble and only got as far as shaping the feet, legs and some of the upper torso, then for some unknown reason stopped work. Ten years later Antonio Rossellino was commissioned to take over the project but his contract was terminated soon thereafter. The block of marble stayed unfinished in the cathedral yard for 25 years. In 1500 the block of marble which was called "the Giant" was raised to it's feet so that the masters could examine it and a new artist could be chosen to finish the work. A year later 26 year old Michelangelo got the contract. Michelangelo worked on and fished the sculpture of David from 1501 to 1504. The statue never did make it to the roof of the Cathedral. The statues proportions were sculptured to be viewed from below, this is why his head and upper body were larger then his lower body. The 17 foot sculpture of David today stands on display in Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia.


The Face Of David

18 x 24 inches

Graphite on Smooth Bristol