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In the Maniere Noire style

May 8, 2013

I returned Tuesday from 4 intense days of creating art thanks to the incredible Rose Davies. She traveled from Swansea Wales (yes, from the UK!) all the way to little ol’ Idaho to introduce 6 artists to a more advanced monotype technique. The workshop was offered by Wingtip Press operated by Amy Nack in Boise. Amy, I love your space!!!!

What is Maniere Noir? Basically it’s French for ‘in the black manner’ and often refers to the mezzotint printmaking technique. For our purpose, it refers to a reductive drawing style using charcoal or graphite on paper.  Rose had us spend a day working with the reductive technique to prime our brain cells for 3 days of color reduction.

Rose and Amy prepped full sheets of Rives BFK paper with 2 coats of gesso. They used Hake brushes which left some nice texture.

Wingtip Press studio space. Rose getting us prepped

Wingtip Press studio space. Rose getting us prepped. Cassandra, Amy and Lisa in the background.

We applied a dense coating of charcoal to the primed paper  and rubbed it in with our fingers. This was certainly not a clean process! To remove the black, we used aluminum (carborundum) sandpaper of various grit and steel wool.

Sand paper & steel wool were the main tools used

Sand paper & steel wool were the main tools used

Rose gave a starting demo using a pepper still life.

Rose giving a demo using steel wool to pull up the pepper image

Rose giving a demo using steel wool to block in the pepper image

Now it’s my turn. I couldn’t resist the pepper! Rose actually re-toned her paper after starting the pepper and took on a chunk of driftwood. I found it fairly easy to scrub off the charcoal and if a mistake was made, I could always reapply more. A forgiving process.

Reductive charcoal drawing of a pepper by Gale Everett on a full sheet of Rives BFK

Reductive charcoal drawing of a pepper by Gale Everett on a full sheet of Rives BFK

After a lunch break, we moved on to the second style of drawing: reductive graphite! Prepping the paper required lots of fresh air. Again, we were working on paper primed with gesso.

Graphite toning start

Graphite toning start

After applying a base of graphite, one takes a rag with turpentine (yes, the real stuff) and wipes it over the surface. This blends the graphite and gives you a much sturdier surface to work on. On the messy scale, it was certainly “cleaner”  than charcoal. Downside was the turp odor. It was also harder to remove the graphite and reach the white of the paper. Not a bad thing, just a different scrubbing intensity required.

Blending using Turpentine.

Blending using Turpentine.

Tyler H working on his gourd drawing. He has a beautiful hand!

Tyler at work on his graphite drawing

Tyler at work on his graphite drawing

The gourd I worked on below: Note the tools off to the side. More steel wool, sandpaper on sponge, Q-tips (for touching up with a bit of turpentine to get back the graphite black), graphite stick to add in additional lines.

Reductive graphite drawing on Rives BFK full sheet. Gourd by Gale Everett

Reductive graphite drawing on Rives BFK full sheet. Gourd by Gale Everett

Three more days to report on plus one incredible day under the Idaho sun searching for petroglyphs and snakes along the mighty Snake River.

🙂

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2013 6:10 am

    That darn pepper will go with me to my grave!

    • paperstew permalink*
      May 10, 2013 6:32 am

      Ha!
      Maybe you should grow a plant or two in your garden. Then you can get the upper hand over them (plus turn them into something yummy!)
      🙂

  2. May 10, 2013 11:50 am

    Thank you for this. Rosie’s blog doesn’t usually go into such detail, and it’s a technique I fancy having a go at.

    • paperstew permalink*
      May 10, 2013 11:53 am

      Yes, she is good at holding back info. I’m just so glad to have had this opportunity. Wasn’t certain when I’d make it to Wales.
      It is a fun process. Looking forward to seeing what you think of it.
      🙂

  3. May 10, 2013 11:55 am

    Reblogged this on notes to the milkman and commented:
    Rosie has been getting herself and some of her students grubby with this maniere noire technique. Paperstew’s blog post has quite a bit of detail about the method.

  4. May 16, 2013 12:16 am

    I’m enigmatic, me 😉

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