Friday, January 27, 2012

David Kassan Workshop

I was lucky enough to go to a three day David Kassan Drawing Workshop in early December 2011 at the Townsend Atelier in Chattanooga TN.

The weekend started with a free public drawing demo by David at the Hunter Museum of Art on Thursday night.
Artist Mia Bergeron helping David set up.
David with his initial block in using pan pastels.
David uses binoculars for seeing detail and true shapes. I've seen demos of his using them before on line and I always thought they would be used at the end for details but they are actually used early on, to see areas of dark and light more accurately.
Here he is using a mahl stick with a hook on the end that can rest on the top of the drawing when he isn't using it.
Alia El-Bermani and Cindy Procious enjoying the demo.
David's finished drawing from the demo which was about three hours long. You could tell he really wanted to work on it longer. He called it "cursory," but of course we were all impressed.
Early Friday morning at the Atelier, David spent a bit of time setting up the model, experimenting with a dark or light background and adjusting the light. The class was structured around him demonstrating for three hours in the morning and then after a lunch break the class drew for four hours. 
In this close-up you can see how he outlines shadow shapes to define them and hatches in layers, building up the values.
There were 14 people in the class, David arranged the easels so that everyone had  good view of the model and then we drew numbers, with the lower numbers choosing their easels first. I was number 13 but still had an interesting view,  although not one I might have chosen if I'd gotten a smaller number- a straight profile.
From my spot, you can see the light set up and my first clunky block in with the pan pastels. We were working on a heavy, smooth, medium gray card stock paper.
The pan pastels are scrubbed into the paper with a paper towel, so we were building up layer upon layer of black charcoal pencils of varying hardness and white charcoal pencil. Using very sharp pencils, "Sharp pencils make sharp drawings".
In this one you can see the eraser marks, where an eraser is used as a drawing implement. Even though we were working on toned paper every inch of the paper is covered in charcoal. Some schools of thought leave the toned paper as a mid-value but David actually mixes the white and black charcoal to create a full range of gray scale.
My finished drawing. About 11 or 12 hours total.
Here are a couple close-ups. It is a very subtle cross hatching technique. I could never have seen this kind of detail with out the binoculars. I did have a tough time with them the first day but kind of adjusted to them by the second day.
One of the best parts of the weekend was reuniting with a few of my WPW friends! We worked hard, ate well, socialized plenty and slept little. A perfect storm.
Me, Cindy Procious, David, Mia Bergeron, Alia El-Bermani
Alia with her gorgeous finished drawing.
Mia with her fabulous finished drawing.
The Townsend Atelier was a great place to have a workshop like this. Stan and Peggy Townsend were very organized and did everything possible to make us feel welcome. They have a busy class schedule, painting, drawing and sculpture, and an interesting assortment of fine art materials, check it out!

You can sign-up to receive Townsend Atelier emails on this page. Talks are in the works... looks like I will be teaching a two-day painting workshop later this year. I will keep you posted.

I highly recommend David Kassan's workshops. He has a DVD of his drawing method so if you don't get as lucky as we were to have him in driving distance check it out. David is a generous teacher and freely answered questions about his work. I learned a lot about his method with charcoal and about capturing one area with absolute accuracy, using that area as a map legend to base the rest of the drawing on. 


  1. Man, y'all are fantastic.
    When you cover the paper with charcoal, do you use water as a carrier?

    1. Thanks, no, there's no water. There is pan pastel applied with a chamois tool that looks like a palette knife with a cover over it. Then it is scrubbed in with a paper towel. Then next comes the very sharp charcoal pencils that also get scrubbed in. I can see why you think it has water, it is a very fluid look for a dry media. It's a very slow process but very fun!

  2. thanks for posting. ive followed his work. very interesting technique.

  3. Thanks for reading. It was a great workshop.

  4. I did a carbon dust illustration years ago while working with medical illustrators.. a slow process but beautiful. have you ever tried this? here is a link to explain..if not

  5. I have never tried that but I can see the similarity. I have used graphite and charcoal powder.The earlier layers are really scrubbed in with the pan pastel chamois or paper towels, not really delicate at all. Then David does a lot of cross hatching with very sharp pencils so the technique has a lot of texture up close. I don't know if you can see it in the close up of my final drawing picture. Thanks for sharing the link.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...