Just finished this portrait sketch of a little boy at the beach. Love those pudgy hands and legs. It was done with Conte sanguine and white on toned paper. This drawing was a bit of a challenge as there were so many textures to render – soft skin, clothing, sand, wood fence, and grass. Usually, sanguine is used for portrait sketches, with not a big variety of textures. So I thought I would push my skills a little to capture the feeling of this little boy playing in the sand on a bright day. Notice how his leg and toes are lodged in the sand.
Conté sticks or Conté crayons, are a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base. Conté crayons are most commonly found in black, white, and sanguine tones, as well as bistre, shades of grey, and other colors. Sanguine is a reddish (tending to brown) drawing medium that lends itself naturally to sketches, life drawings, and rustic scenes. It is ideal for rendering modeling and volume. In the form of wood-cased pencils or manufactured sticks, sanguine may be used similarly to charcoal or pastel. As with pastel, a mid-toned paper may be used for the middle tones.
One of my favorite drawing mediums, I like to do a sanguine sketch now and then just to keep in practice. This is a recent anatomy study I did in sanguine, with my husband as the model. I love the way you can quickly capture a skin tone and create values simply by how much pressure is used on the paper. Sanguine was used extensively by 15th- and 16th-century artists such as Leonardo da Vinci (who employed it in his sketches for the Last Supper), Michelangelo, Raphael, and Andrea del Sarto. Sanguine was greatly favoured by the Venetian painters and by those artists, such as Peter Paul Rubens and Antoine Watteau, who were influenced by them. In conjunction with black and white, sanguine formed the technique known as aux trois crayons (“with three pencils”).