Thursday, September 17, 2020

Drawing Adventures

This week, I have been immersing myself in watching videos about drawing and learning about new media. I took the sound advice of an acquaintance who is an artist and suggested that I try “conte”. I was clueless. So off to YouTube I go. The art work produced by conte is splendid. The artists I watched work like magicians where images of amazing 18th century-like artwork evolves before your eyes. 

Conte also has an interesting history. During the Napoleonic Wars, graphite became scarce due to blockades preventing its import into France. So in 1795, a French man called, Nicolas Jacque Conté developed a drawing medium by combining clay and graphite. 

What is also nice about this medium, natural pigments are used to get the different colors. Some of the pigments are simply oxides of various metals such as iron and titanium. 

My first adventure with this media was obviously to draw something, but first, I watched a beautiful YouTube video of an artist sketching something that quickly morphed into a fresco-cherub. That was far too ambition for my liking. However, I thought why not try...? I wanted to draw something that reminded me of our trip to France and flicked through my online photos from our 2017 trip to Paris. And there she was; a beautiful nymph with hair adorned with leaves blowing in the wind.  

I sketched the tiny face of the nymph that I saw in the art work inside a wonderful restaurant, Le precope in Paris. I was determined to draw something French which would remind me of the wonderful day and evening meal that we shared with friends.  

I practiced first on my smaller pad with just a good old B2 graphite pencil. It didn’t take long. I had to chuckle when she turned into a pixie with her ear in the wrong place and a little on the large side, but she is my first portrait, and she has since grown on me. I like her. 

Watching drawing videos feels a bit like watching cooking shows where the cake comes out perfectly. And it looks so easy! So now, this is what my nymph’s face is suppose to look like. She is also accompanied by a poem: 

“the nympho of the shore with fish makes war in the month when raging winds on the waters make it return to the river and return to the earth the meadow where the flowers bring back the birds” 

I will revisit this Nymph again armed with conte. Now onto what I did manage to draw with conte.

Finally, I decided to sketch something much simpler. Another memory sprang to life when I came across a photo of a leather-bound edition of my favorite novel, Madame Bovary on a stall along the Seine Embankment. I love walking along there and onto Shakespeare and Co. across the street. At €250, I could only have the book as a distant memory. I have the book in a form I created from the photo. Alas, I can’t feel the old leather, and gently turn the aged pages, but I can turn the pages of my sketch pad and relive fabulous memories through the tips of graphite, charcoal, and now conte. 


  1. Good job. I use Conte all the time. It’s one of my favorite mediums. I also love the colors. I learned about it in art school in my teens!

    1. Thanks, Tiger! It’s wonderful that you learned so young! All these years, and I only just learned about it! In high school, I was only exposed to Charcoal (great!), and paints. Also did pottery.