Drawing – Great Masters – Kathe Kollwitz

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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.

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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.

Katte Kowlitz

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…..




Look at the Hand

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“Why is your hand favoured as a part of your body?  Because it is your body expressing as a hand.  Thus, the hand not only has the strength and creativity that is required in a given activity, but it also has feeling and tenderness.  It is a hand, but it is also “YOU!:  Eric Butterworth

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

A Gatherine of People

“In all men I see myself.  Not one barley corn more, not one barley corn less.  And the good or bad I say of them, I say of myself.”  Walt Whitman


Cubism – The First Form of Abstract Art



“Les Damioselles d’Avignon” 1907, Picasso  Accessed from Khan Academy on 14/10/2016

Cubism was the first form of abstract art and is rarely practiced by artists these days. The most famous Cubist work (above) is titled Les Damioselles d’Avignon (1907) by Picasso.  This painting was built up from cubes.  Picasso created this work to shock the art world and he certainly succeeded.

Here is another Cubist work by Marcel Duchamp and another fine example of Cubism.


“Sonata”, 1911 by Marcel Duchamp Oil on canvas.  Image from Olga’s Gallery, accessed 16/10/2016.

I recently did a workshop on Cubism and will pass on the details here.  The first exercise was to do a Cubist sketch followed by a painting.

Firstly I drew an apple and divided it randomly with horizontal and oblique lines.  I then extended the edges to abstract the shape even further.   I then shaded in starting from the bottom and going around the apple.  The dark always touches the light and the light always touches the dark.

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To commence the painting I drew a still life with a paint brush and followed the same procedure as above.  The rule of thumb is that the objects must be either sitting separately or over-lapping, not touching.  Background lines are included and best done more sparingly to subtly delineate background from foreground.

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I then proceeded to paint in the shapes being aware of the light which I placed on the left-hand side of the objects.  This required some time consuming blending.  For the best result it helps to use the paint directly from the tube without any water.

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Cubist works were often done in monochromatic tones. The fundamental qualities of Cubism are found in detachment and intellectual control, objectivity combined with intimacy, an interest in establishing a balance between representation and an abstract pictorial structure.

Here is a very powerful nude in the Cubist style by artist Corne Akkers from the Netherlands.

Corne Akkers


Corne has recently moved on to a new form of cubism with curved lines replacing the angular marks of Cubism.  This style is called Roundism.  Here Akkers combines crosshatching with Roundism.

Braque and Picasso were the founding fathers of cubist drawing.

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