Well, I definitely underestimated this artwork! A Handful of Coffee is proving to be very tricky, and in ways that I had not anticipated.
The great many coffee beans are playing tricks with my eyes just as I knew they would, but as I also expected, since I have found my groove with them they became more achievable and familiar. My biggest cause of consternation here is the colours of the hands. Actually the colours of the whole picture if I am being honest.
Whilst I am drawing any picture I have three things in mind. The reference that I am working from, the artwork that I plan to create which I can see in my mind’s eye, and the picture that is unfolding before me. The challenge is to bring these three together in some kind of union. I aim for realism, but not an exact copy of what already exists. There is something of me in the work which distinguishes it from the photograph or living subject, my artist’s understanding of what the qualities I want to portray.
With A Handful of Coffee there is a warmth, a softness and a glow that I am seeking. A richness to the skin which is evading me, and which I must find before I can settle. In part this is a material issue, there must be sufficient pastel laid upon the paper to give the creaminess I seek, but it is also a colour conundrum, something, or even numerous things are missing and I am yet to discover how to capture them.
The mysteries that this study is keeping from me are making for extremely slow progress. Time away from the picture has helped with regaining my perspective, and getting as much on the page that I do know as possible has given a sense of cautious achievement. I know however that so much of what you see here will have to be edited and improved upon and it is feeling like a monumental task.
All of this means the going is slow, and my goal of having all of this series of hands studies completed in time for prints to be made by by the end of the year is necessarily revised. Now my goal is to not try to force it, rather to take as long as it needs for me to be truly happy with it, and to simply finish it and be proud of the result when I am.
As with it’s predecessors, A Handful of Coffee is in pastel on Pastelmat.
Once the full series of hands studies has been completed, I will make available limited edition prints and greetings cards of A Handful of Love, A Handful of Faith, A Handful of Lotus Seeds, A Handful of Salt, A Handful of Chillies and the final work in the series, the yet to be finished A Handful of Coffee.
Thanks go to Réhahn Photography for his amazing image.