By Wenlan Xu
In all this chaos, Kirstyn Draper, a self-proclaimed "pencil drawing maniac," started her work in her bedroom, which is her painting studio as well. "This time, it's a sad boy in Iraq," she said.
"I am sorry I am not one for silence, ew. . . ." Draper said and shrugged. "I need all those sounds to push me forward."
Yes, she is not one for silence, and obviously she is not one for order either.
In her room, finished pencil drawings of sceneries, human body and many others were randomly taped in the wall. Color tubes, painting brushes and stuff like that were lying on the ground here and there. Books, clothes, shoes were relaxing themselves wherever they can position themselves. Surprisingly enough, she still could find room to locate her feet in the mess.
"To some, I am a little bit psycho, heh," Draper said. "Pencil drawing calms me down and when doing it I gain the balance of my emotion.
"My dad is a painter. He is my inspiration. I don't really remember when I started to paint. But I guess when I was old enough to paint, I paint."
Now an interior design major, the freshman keeps her habit of pencil drawing once a week, at least.
She started from a sketch in 9-by-12 inch drawing paper. It has been previously taped on a larger painting board, which was positioned on an easel.
She used graphite pencils for the sketch and coloring work after the sketching.
"Pencil drawing is all about black and white, all kinds of black and white, therefore I need all kinds of graphite," Draper said. "Now all I've got here are graphite pencils ranging from 4H to 9B, from the most hard to the most soft."
HB is something in the middle, like ones usually used to take notes in class. It's perfect for the sketch, Draper said, "It's not too light not too dark."
"Good work comes out of good tools. I should have used some charcoal pencils though. They are good, but you know they are more expensive," said Draper. "Graphite pencils make enough sense to me already, anyways."
Standing in front of the easel, Draper lost in deep thought sometimes, coming back to leave a few lines on the paper.
"Sketching is the first step to make a picture," Draper said. "It lays the foundation of the work. It is not just ësketching,' it asks for a lot of details."
Basically, a good level of detail will leave very few problems to solve about the figure itself, she said. In the refining step, she can concentrate on the illustration technique rather than on proportions, shadows placing or anything else that may distract her.
After removing a few unnecessary lines with a kneaded eraser, Draper finished the sketch. The whole process took her about 20 minutes. Now what's on the paper is a boy, head bent, hard to tell whether he is sad or not at this stage, having an adult's large hand on his head.
Some people would prefer to use another paper sheet for the sketch and then copy the finished sketch to a new sheet, said Draper. It renders the artist a more relaxed way to draw without worrying to mess up.
"But I don't care," she said. "Actually I enjoyed having a chaotic sketch and I think that's the beauty of drawing. You start with chaos and conclude with decent serenity."
Picking up a bunch of "sense-making" graphite pencils, holding them in her left hand, Draper started "the most enjoyable part of the whole thing," coloring.
"It's not really 'coloring,' 'cause pencil drawing is all about black and white," said Draper. "But I can't find a better term to call what I am doing. Can you? Heh. . ."
Shishishishi . . . . shishishishi . . . . The graphite pencil was flying on the paper, adding more hilarious sound to the already noisy enough room.
"It' really easy," said Draper. "All I have to do is to color the paper with lines and curves, and then blend the colors."
It's easy for her. But first she has to analyze the textures in every area and decide which ones would be considered rough and which ones would be smooth. She also has to notice where the contrasting textures are and once she had identified these, she needs to decide on the appropriate drawing techniques to use in each area.
Yeah, sounds easy.
Draper had never taken any art classes besides those everyone has to take in high school. She almost learned everything from her father.
"I don't fit in the art classes, I just don't." she said.
There are a lot of blending tools for pencil drawing, she said, such as blending stump, tortillon, felt pad, chamois and even facial tissue. But all she used is her fingers.
"If you can finish all the work without much difference by using the most convenient tool, why would you bother to sue others?" Draper said. "Some of the teachers really don't know everyone is unique and I am an artist in my own way."
Draper is glad her dad never forced his ideas on her.
There are as many techniques on how to draw as there are people, said Draper. "I always keep true to my idea. I have my unique style, and every one should."
Drawing, switching pencils, blending, drawing, switching pencils, blending.
Draper silenced herself in those repetitions, as the "sad Iraqi boy" emerged bit by bit on the paper. He has rough hair, worn and stained shirt with a few buttons missing. He bent his head heavily, but one still can see some of his face, it is dirty. It seems he had experienced some kind of bombing and behind him is the debris.
It took Draper about three hours to finish the picture. She spent much of the time on the hand that was layed on the boy's head.
"It's a hand of a middle aged man, a tortured man," said Draper. The hand is big, skinny, and dirty as well. It has a lot of scars and lines on it, which makes it very difficult to draw.
"I could have made it easier though. But I just can't," she said. "I can't let it go."
"I sort of have a mixed feeling about the war. I believe Bush has good reasons to declare the war, but I also feel the pains of the people in the war zone," Draper said.
After she carefully removed the drawing sheet from the painting board, Draper finely cut the margins of the picture with a pair of paper scissors, and then she taped the picture in the wall, which has already been covered completely with her pencil drawings.
"Good," she smiled. "Now I need to wash my hands. Excuse
me. Oh, by the way, do you mind if I turn on the radio volume a little