I’ve recently taken a little time away from oil painting to work on my other favorite aspect of art study: figure drawing. Specifically, I’ve been working on chiaroscuro drawings, using graphite and shading techniques to create form.

chiaroscuro-1Chiaroscuro originated during the Renaissance with artists drawing on a toned or colored surface using the base as a mid-tone and then moving toward the light highlights with white charcoal or gouache, and to the dark areas with charcoal or ink.

For my first drawings, I’ve been using white paper and graphite, and then calling upon the services of my kneaded eraser when I’ve let the value get too dark.

My shading is still quite rough, but I hope additional practice will help me improve.

I’m really glad I did these drawings from the back, not the front. I uploaded them to Facebook so I could post them to the blog, and as I so often do, I didn’t get the privacy set right. I really thought I’d changed it to “Me Only”, but the post ended up “Public”. Thank goodness I wasn’t sharing full frontal nudity. I would have been very embarrassed.

chiaroscuro-2The first drawing is fairly small. The second, however, is a full page in my 9 x 12 inch sketchbook. I nearly wore myself out working on it.

Next, I will try using my gray toned paper. I might try working with charcoal, too. It’s definitely very good practice for me to look at photographs taken in color and then “translate” what I see into black and white.

Of course, working with a live model would be ideal, but I don’t have that option. So for now, I’ll make do with my anatomy books and online “pose” sites.


Recently I read a suggestion to draw a subject 100 times when you’ve having problems with it. I guess I will number these sketches as Figure Drawing #1 and #2 and go from there. Don’t worry, I won’t be posting my figure drawing sketches every day, but I will share them from time to time. It will be interesting to see how much progress I’m able to make by the time I reach #100.




  1. I like to do a similar thing but with toned tan paper and sepia and white chalk, it’s a really effective way to create form and pretty fast too. I think you’ll have fun with grey paper, white chalk and charcoal (I heartily recommend a charcoal pencil, unless you really love messy fingers!) Nice work here, Judith!

    Liked by 2 people

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