Emily Zacek Part 2: Figure Drawing

Untitled (Nude 1), 2022, charcoal and conte on paper, 25.5×19.5 inches

I focus primarily on both painting and drawing within the visual arts, yet I approach each of these quite differently in content and form. As seen in my Safe Haven series of oil paintings, I tend to use brushstrokes and paint quality to create vibrant landscapes and interactions between figures within a scene. In this collection of figure drawings, I hope it is clear that I approach drawing materials and content differently, focusing more on the dynamism of mark making.

Untitled (Nude 2), 2022, charcoal and conte on paper, 19.5×25.5 inches

My first experience with chalk pastels and charcoal was in high school. I fell in love with their ability to smoothly blend. I began drawing portraits, constantly using my fingertips to smooth the colors and lines to achieve as much realism as I could; however, now I see more value in the stark lines and layering that can come from direct application of these materials. 

Untitled (Nude 3), 2022, charcoal and conte on paper, 25.5×19.5 inches

I feel more freedom to explore and play with this approach. I can allow the charcoal and chalk to interact with the tone of the paper I choose, speaking for themselves in my drawings rather than feeling tied to the representationalism I used to strive for. The formal elements of my most recent works are much more dynamic and striking.

Untitled (Nude 4), 2022, charcoal and conte on paper, 25.5×19.5 inches

My formal and compositional choices contribute to the mood and message of each drawing as well. Having a minor in psychology, I have become increasingly aware of the tie between outward bodily expression and the inner workings of the human brain. The human figure is dynamic, expressive, and complex, even if in a stationary position. Using specific colors (or a lack thereof) and intentionally placing the figure on the page, different reactions and emotions are drawn out of the viewer. This dynamic connects me to each drawing, and connects viewers to them as well, achieving the relationship and connection that I strive for in my art making.

Untitled (Woman in Cloak), 2022, charcoal on paper, 19.5×25.5 inches

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