“This drawing was completed for an advanced drawing class. The assignment was called ‘Density,’ and the challenge was to make a drawing with objects that weren’t fully realized.
An eraser was a key component to it, just as much as a pencil was. My drawing was obviously inspired by Jules Verne and I wanted it to have a heavy feeling, as if you were underwater and viewing an aquatic scene.”
Partial Video Transcript
Prof Lieu: “I think what I really like about this charcoal drawing is that the artist really took advantage of charcoal as a medium. They really embraced those velvety rich blacks that charcoal is so good at. They also have these really bright luminous areas.
For example, the octopus in the lower left-hand corner really feels very very intense. You’ve got those very very extreme opposites of that dark dark and that super bright light and that’s so beautifully established in this drawing.”
Lauryn: “I also really like the glow. I feel like glows are so hard to do. I personally have a hard time doing that kind of glow. The transitions are really really nice. I feel the light is moving through the water. I also really like how whimsical it is. The octopus, to me it is just like fwoooo, I think that’s so cute. It reminds me of the movie The Life Aquatic, where they met all of the imaginary animals.”
Alex: “I think the application of the medium, for me charcoal’s a medium that’s all about addition or subtraction. Whether applying the charcoal or removing with an eraser or a rag. This one’s really doing a good job of knowing when to do both of those things to make this space kind of come to life.”
Prof Lieu: “It’s great, I think there’s a range of textures in this piece. The octopus really does look rubbery, and the ship in the upper right hand corner does have these little spiky spots on it. Then it gets really silky and soft, like you feel like you could just run your fingers through it. I like those textures.”
Alex: “The really black tentacle shapes beneath the ship in the background, that’s my favorite part of the drawing it just feels so smooth and vibrant.”
Prof Lieu: “I think it’s a really ambitious composition, there’s a lot going on. I also think that because it’s such an ambitions composition, one thing that I would think about a little bit more is how to get from one part of the composition to the next.
For example, towards the bottom you have the octopus in the lower left hand corner, but then the lower right hand corner feels almost like another drawing. Stylistically the way it is draw, it feels very scribbly compared to the octopus. The octopus feels so elegant and refined, then I look at the lower right hand corner that looks totally unfinished to me by comparison so I’d think on that more.”
Lauryn: “I think it’s okay to have multiple ways of working within one piece but you’ve really got to be aware of how those different ways of working are working together and how they work as a whole within one piece. You also really gotta be careful with your sources. Like where is that scribbly mark coming from, what is that referencing. Where are you getting your source material for your octopus because that’s totally gonna change how the piece looks based on which piece or what image you’re working from with the octopus.”
Alex: “I think that the contrast is getting some really intense points of dark darks and white whites, but for me there’s a lot of whites in there and getting more of that subtlety and balance of the greys would really set the scene well for that underwater environment. We think of this light source under the ocean and how quickly the water can absorb that light. Look up some reference photos of lights beneath the ocean and how shockingly dark it can get and get that believable look to it.”
Lauryn: “If you have access to an aquarium, if that’s something in your area. It’d definitely be worth going. When I was doing work with cuttlefish, I would go to the aquarium and actually look at the cuttlefish. If you even if you don’t have that in your area, you can—”
Prof Lieu: “Watch videos online, like look up cuttlefish and watch cuttlefish videos.”
Alex: “I think videos are definitely an important thing because still pictures, you get that problem of basing your composition off the picture rather than finding a picture that suits the composition.”
Lauryn: “Also, on top of videos you can go to the store and they’ve got, not every place has octopus that’s available to just buy, but there are in a lot of places canned squid tentacles in oil.”