In the villages in Guinea, much of daily life revolves around tasks related to subsistence farming. Rice, manioc, sweet potatoes, yams, and many other dietary staples are grown in the village. The work is hard, and it is not uncommon to see both young and old at work in the fields. Here, a man sorts through beans that will be sifted and then pounded with the mortar and pestle, and made into that evening’s stew…
Le Vieux Fermier is 14x17” pencil and graphite powder on bristol board, and depicts a farmer in a village in the Kouroussa region of Guinea, not far from the Niger River. This drawing had many challenges, as you will see below. Enjoy! — DK
This artwork is included in my book Drawing on Culture: An Artist’s West Africa Travelogue, which is available to purchase here.
Le Vieux Fermier
14x17” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski
In the final stages of the drawing, I really focused on rendering the anatomy of the arms, hands, and face while still attempting to maintain a clear focal point for the drawing as a whole. Lots of pushing and pulling, and loads of patience. It was important to take lots of breaks during this long drawing, as every time I stepped away from it and came back with “fresh eyes” I would see something different. Rendering the background became quite the challenge and at times I thought I could easily ruin the drawing! At long last, the forms of the shirt, the mortar, and the background started to play nicely together, and I felt I could start the last challenge: the beans themselves. I made sure I had plenty of time and was relaxed for this, just enjoying drawing those little shapes and tried to make them pleasing little objects.
In the end, I’m very happy with what was the most difficult drawing I had attepted yet. I hope you enjoy it too!
Drawing on Culture
An Artist’s West Africa Travelogue
In Drawing on Culture, artist and ethnomusicologist Dave Kobrenski takes readers on an artistic journey of cultural discovery into the heart of West Africa.
“Dave Kobrenski is a gifted artist and musician, and a better anthropologist than many of the PhDs I know. Here is a fine text that depicts people as they are, illustrates their essence, and demonstrates the importance of appreciating, without appropriating, their lives and ways of being.”
— Katherine Donahue, Ph.D, Professor Emerita, Anthropology