The most nerve racking moment when finishing one of these coloured pictures is not when applying the last little bits with the brush, or even putting in the last bits of the thickened outline, it’s actually the time when you’ve got to lay a ruler along the edge of the exposed paper and cut the image free from the stretching tape. I need to get myself a heavier weight straight edge, the thick plastic one I’m using feels like it will slip at any moment. I confess that I have accidentally sliced presentation drawings in half before, hastily patched up with spray mount and tape, but it’s not something I want to make a habit of.
Like many previous drawings my satisfaction in finishing it is tempered by an irritating feeling that there are little improvements that could be made. It’s right though to fight these for now as engaging in a final fiddling session is a sure fire way to make a mess of things. So I’ll leave it and divert my creative energy toward getting on with another image. Todays dilemma is which image to work up next? Having spent ages being reasonably well organised with my workflow, I find myself today with no idea what I’m going to work on now. Lots of sketchy things on the wall but none is screaming “Me me me”. Best go away and choose one. Actually having said that, there is the small matter of finishing the black and white version of this picture which was featured in a post a couple of weeks back. The man now has a plan.
It’s raining, it must be June. Whilst the bad weather this weekend has done its best to put a massive dampener on anyone taking part in celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, in my case it has succeeded in driving me indoors, away from the distractions of motorcycling and into the chair in front of my drawing table. Unable to feel the tug of a sunny afternoon and a spin on the 250, a final spurt of creative energy means that the final drawing in the Cafe Racer series is now complete. Why this drawing has taken so long to finish could have something to do with the fact that all spare time over the last week has been taken up by constructing, fitting and painting a new front gate and posts, and giving the front door a once over. It may also have something (more) to do with nerves. When a drawing gets to a critical stage it can often be the case that I approach completing the final details with some trepidation, messing it up at a late stage is a huge risk. Biro is a fantastic medium, but you can never ever erase it. Once it’s down, that’s it. But it’s done now and other projects can start to take shape while I learn to breathe again!
The second part of todays double header is another lining paper sketch that didn’t make the final selection. It’s nearly there but not quite, very much a case of “ close, but no cigar”. I was attempting to show some speed in the image without resorting to ending up with a huge blur. Various elements of the figure trailing off into the slipstream left behind. It’s something I have seen others do much more successfully than I’ve managed in this case, so there is some work to be done to get it working and may very well benefit from being tried again using a different medium. It is something worth aiming for as the alternative is the rather obvious big blurry background, and I’m not quite in the mood for one of those just yet. I’ll post my experiments as I go so you’ll soon see how things are progressing.
So here we are, presented for your delectation today is the fourth finished drawing in the Cafe Racer series. Like the previous drawing it treads the line between caricature and reality, leaning in one direction or the other depending on which bit you’re looking at. I’m not one to shout loudly about my work but I have to admit here that I’m very happy with it, all things considered. What was mentioned in Post No. 63, “Cafe Racer 3, finally” about how ‘static’ and ‘moving images dictate the background in very different ways rings true here. The original idea of a stylised chevron barrier, you know, the big black and white things that alert you to a bend in the road, just didn’t work, so a far simpler approach was taken.
The perennial problem that faces you when you’ve got parallel or converging lines to cross-hatch between is staying inside the lines. If you have an occasionally wobbly hand as I do, then it can be a real ordeal. Each stroke of the pen is a potential mess maker waiting to happen. My solution, and it’s obvious when you think about it, is to mask off the area. Normal masking tape’s no good though, particularly if you want to preserve the surface of your paper. Every roll tried just seems too sticky. Back in my designer days, some guys I was working with at Philips’ studio used a lovely low-tac masking tape when making their marker renderings. It was brilliant stuff but I’ve no idea what it was called or where I could get any. If you know, please let me know. My solution currently is Scotch Removable clear tape which is similarly low-tac. It doesn’t bend as much as masking tape does, so it has its limitations but for these purposes it’s fine, and not so thick that it makes the pen jump on the edge. Pretty good and a neat way to get those edges really crisp.
The next two drawings are already laid out in pencil so I’ll be posting updates on their progress when there’s something to show.