Detailed Drawing examples

Research point

Find out about two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing and make notes about their work.  Choose a modern artist and one working in the nineteenth century or earlier.

For my historical artist I have chosen Edward Calvert (1799-1883).  His drawings are influenced by pagan mythology, bible stories and landscapes from the Shoreham area.  

Mary Calvert, the Artist's Wife circa 1825-30 by Edward Calvert 1799-1883

Mary Calvert, the Artist’s Wife circa 1825-30 by Edward Calvert

In the drawing of his wife Calvert uses straight and curved lines of black chalk for her hair, and for the shadows.  He has used very subtle shading, which has been blended, possibly by smudging,to create the appearance of depth, especially around the nose, eyes and mouth. 

He has used white chalk to highlight her right eye and her nose, as well as to draw her blouse.  

This image is different to the other drawings I have found by Calvert.  It is more delicate looking.  

I think this is a good example of how chalks can be used in particular ways which perhaps could not be achieved with graphite, ink or felt tip.  This is because they harmonize with the paper, so that there is no specific line where shading begins and the colour of the paper ends.

The Bride is a highly detailed line drawing. (The image here is not full size so you can see it better if you click on it.) This drawing is different from Mary Calvert, the Artist’s Wife because there are many more lines describing each surface.

The Bride 1828 by Edward Calvert 1799-1883

The Bride – 1828 by Edward Calvert

This is an interesting drawing which uses lines and circles to build up solid areas.  He has used hatching and cross hatching.

The surface of the nude figures skin is described with lots of tiny curved lines. The river is drawn with lots of wavy lines, the sky with longer lines, which curve gently in certain areas.  


The darker places of the plants and trees are made up of many outlines, circles and pointed shapes.  

There is a lot to see in this image.  It has a flatness about it.  I wonder what it is which prevents the illusion of depth in this image?  One thing I would guess could be the hills in the distance being so dark.  There is a lack of aerial perspective.  


The Sheep of his Pasture circa 1828 by Edward Calvert 1799-1883

The Sheep of his Pasture circa 1828 by Edward Calvert

The Sheep of his Pasture is a strong image.  Calvert uses hatching and strong outlines.  This is quite a dark image, which allows the animals to stand out.  The dark mountain draws your eye to the top left of the image, and then to the Sun – which is setting or rising.  I think this image has a little more depth than The Bride because of the position of the Sun.  I think sometimes when the Sun is in this position the landscape appears as a silhouette.


For my modern artist I have chosen Gemma Anderson.  She is influenced by thoughts, walking and the idea of motion.  As well as mathematics, psychiatry and natural forms.  She makes very detailed drawings so I thought she was a suitable artist to look into.


Derek 6 pencil drawing

In the first drawings I found Anderson does not use expensive detail.  I think these drawings might be preliminary studies.

She uses hatching to describe the shadows of the face, and heavy lines for the features and glasses.  Hatching is effectively used to create the illusion of depth especially around the eyes.  These drawings have a roughness to them, compared to some of Anderson’s other drawings.





Derek 5 pencil drawing





Her other drawings have a large quantity of intricate detail which she draws from reality and fantasy, creating complex images.

I have found some drawings by Gemma Anderson from a series she worked called Patients and Psychiatrists.







Gemma Anderson - Patients and Psychiatrists

Gemma Anderson Patients and Psychiatrists detail 4

In Fredric she uses very fine, short curved lines for the eye brows and eye lashes and beard.  Straight lines draw the irises.

She uses dots and dashes for the curves around the eyes and nose, and lines to observe the curve of the lips.  The latter of which is just what Calvert did to draw the shapes of the nude figures.

Gemma Anderson Patients and Psychiatrists detail 5

There are drawings of leaves and plants which have also been described in fine lines.  The image is very careful, it does not have the movement of the (presumably) quick pencil sketches of Derek.

Gemma Anderson - Patients and Pschiatrists detail 1

She uses dashes and circles to observe textures, patterns and shapes of different objects in the image.

These images, especially the colours she uses, remind me of bank notes.  They seem to be fading away, and so you get the impression that this is a fleeting moment, something passing away, or from the past.  I think this effect is partly down to the colours used and partly because of the very fine lines used.

I think the fine lines give the appearance of fragility, like cobwebs, and this association suggests transience.

I have collected some other drawings from this series, which are below:



ward-round gemma Anderson



Book: Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern




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