Kathe Kollwitz, Self-Portrait. 1924. Lithograph. Courtesy Fogg Art Museum.
Kathe Kollwitz was a German printmaker, painter and sculptor.
Her work was known for its emotion and sorrowfulness. She often depicted poverty, war, death and human degradation. Kathe Kollwitz used tone to create mood in her drawings using thick crayon or slashing ink lines. The picture above seems as near to a perfect drawing as I can imagine. Kathe has incredibly used no restatements or “feeling out” lines. She scultped the hollows and creases of the face using heavy pressure and the side of the crayon. Lighter pressure was used elsewhere. Sometimes Kathe Kolwitz seemed to build up areas in successive layers.
By using the sharp edge of the crayon Kollwitz has been able to define the features within the soft modeling which has gone before. You can see this in the edge of the face, forehead wrinkles and in the line of the mouth. It looks like a razor or the sharp edge of a knife has been used to scrape out highlights on the nose and lower lip at the end.
See how the drawing then simply ends making the image all the more compelling.
See if you can copy Kathe Kollwitz’s handwriting by using a stick of charcoal or Conte crayon. Using the side of the crayon, press down for the darks and ease up for the lights. A tonal variation may also be obtained by means of gradually adding overlapping layers with the crayon. Lastly, use the tip of the crayon to define the drawing and sharpen up details.
This is a drawing I did after one of Kathe Kollwitz’s sad drawings of a mother and child.
More about Kathe Kollwitz’s sad and poignant works…..