Demo of Conte Wash Drawing technique
Philip Howe Fine Art
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This drawing was done over an initial nu-pastel abstract wash, with darks and lights added at the end. The interesting thing about the wash is that both nu-pastel and conte will become water soluable when a brush drags over it, but drys to a point where you can barely erase it. This makes for an ideal surface in which to draw over, especially for pastel. Gouache will also work, and I expect pastel, although I haven't tried it yet. It can be rewet and reworked as well, so if the abstract areas dont quite fit the shape of the figure in the drawing, you can just wash over it again and scrub it a bit to rework it and give it a fresh look.
Charcoal will also work, although, when dry, it will easily pick up and erase. I have tried copier toner as well, which drys very solid and won't lift at all, but gives interesting brush effects. I would avoid toxic chemicals, especially acetone, as this is a known carcinogen.

Sepia stick dragged over illustration board surface then washed with water and brushes

Above- With the side of a sepia nupastel, I dragged rough, formless strokes to get some color on the white illustration board.
Then I took a fairly big brush and wet it with water and smeared this color around until I had a quick and interesting brush look at the edges. I let this dry, then went back into the upper area to wet it and smear it out a bit more as I felt it would be too dark to suggest a medium skin value.
Below, I took the same nupastel stick, which is like a dry conte, and drew out the form. light at first and heavier as I was more sure of the line. The brown line over the brown wash, exact same color, makes for an immediate natural look since the line melts into the background a bit.

Drawing roughed in over dried wash
Drawing is now ready for the blacks and whites

Above- this is as far as I took the final sepia part of the drawing. I can't go darker since the brown is the darkest I can get from the stick, and I can't pull out the highlights, as I would with a charcoal drawing or wash, since the wash is set into the paper and won't erase. So, to get darker areas and round out the form, I use my favorite black conte stick and simple pull the drawing together here and there. To get a few lighter areas, I use a white chalk pencil or stick, or pastel. I try not to use too much white as it will look more opaque and reflect a bluer tone against the warm areas.
Below is the finished 3 hour drawing. Fun to do and gives you an immediate effect of a fresh wash with a clean drawing look.

Final drawing 15x20"
Head Detail approx 4"

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