Sanguine (Hematite) is a red-brown iron-oxide chalk, usually mined in Italy. Otherwise know also as red chalk, which has been used for hundreds of years since the old masters, going back to Leonardo da Vinci and even earlier. It is much older than modern drawing crayons, which use an oil binder with pigment. So this is probably as raw as you can get in drawing.
Its was interesting to buy, as it came in its rocky form, as if it was just chipped off a cave and placed in a bag, which is probably the case. It came in “lumps” of rock, which needed to be broken up to be used.
The first thing for me to do was to sharpen it, and place it in a brass holder for drawing.
I began by using it for figurative work, such as the one hour poses in the image above.
The qualities achieved when using red chalk are rich warm tones that have a velvety look. It wasn’t easy to use at first, as I had to constantly sharpen it, but I was quite pleased with the result.
My curiosity satisfied, I used it again and again, especially at the Metropolitan, while drawing ancient Roman sculptures.
And Greek sculptures as well. Sometimes the red chalk can be brittle, and break very easily, so the challenge for me was to use it gently and build up volume and tone gradually. I find it very easy to smooth out shadows with my fingers and achieve a beautiful soft gradation.
Since I believe that by trying new things you grow as a person, I certainly believe that holds true for an artist. This is a new material for me and I intend to keep using it as I discover more of its qualities.