Frida Kahlo predominantly produced drawings in preparation for later paintings. These drawings differ in content and also the level of detail with some serving as artworks in their own right whilst others simply experimenting with different sections of a more complex composition. You will see from the drawings shown in this website that Frida Kahlo was a particularly skilled draughtswoman and that she went to great lengths in order to improve her skills of portraiture just as far as she possibly could.
Frida Kahlo's Studies of Anatomy and Portraiture
Frida Kahlo was trained from an early age in how to draw accurate portraits and this provided the basis for many of her paintings right across her career. As someone who produced so many portrait paintings it was essential that she practised this craft as much as possible in a similar way to your Great Masters from the Renaissance such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. They all went to great lengths to practice different poses, different expressions and also focus on specific limbs, torsos and facial features individually in order to perfect each and every element of the overall composition. You will find many items from the Renaissance era when paper was in scarce supply, with artists filling up pages with multiple sketches, making use of every last inch of paper. They would then continue onto the back as well.
One of Kahlo's most productive periods of sketching was during a spell in hospital. She was unable to set up her equipment for painting but was hospital-bound for a number of months and so decided to fill various sketchbooks with all manner of different creative thoughts and designs. This outlet for her creative side was essential for keeping her spirits up whilst she slowly recovered. Thankfully, many of the drawings completed during her time in hospital have since been uncovered and these provide an excellent insight into her mind and mood during this difficult life in her life. The Accident was a pencil drawing created by the artist around one year after her serious injuries were suffered in a bus crash. The drawing itself used intensive marks of the pencil which help us to understand the strong emotions that she felt about this moment. She drew out the bus itself and also included other casualties by the road side. It is morbid but perhaps expressing herself in this way could have helped Kahlo to come to terms with what had happened.
Frida Kahlo's Letters and Illustrations
Additionally to her sketchbooks and single leaf drawings, Frida Kahlo also included a large number of illustrations with her written correspondence. As her life progressed she would build up friendships with a number of people who were spread all across North America. Letters would become a critical method for communicating with these people, and she took the opportunity to provide the personal touch in many of them, delivering simple doodles and caricatures that only the recipient would likely ever get to see. This was typical of her love for creativity and the personal kindness that she displayed to others. In recent years there has been a growing number of letters from her life being rediscovered and catalogued, allowing us to build up a more solid picture of her life and relationships.
Kahlo sent a number of letters during her extended period in hospital, many of which carried illustrations. Many of her family were too devastated by the accident to visit her in hospital and so this was an alternative way of keeping in contact with her friends and family, whilst also expressing some of her creativity. She sent many to her first lover, Alejandro Gomez, for example. She addressed him as "My Alex". Their relationship seems to have been purer and more balanced than her later marriage to Diego Rivera. Besides her letters and drawings, Frida spent the rest of her time in hospital reading a variety of international poetry and philosophy.
Tools and Materials used by Frida Kahlo in her Drawings
From the available drawings that have survived to the present day, with many more believed to be lying around Mexico still undiscovered, we can build up a picture of the types of materials and tools that he used. Pencil is the most common tool from her array of drawings, but she also regularly made use of ink and watercolour. Most, but not all, of her portrait drawings were completed in dark colours. This would probably have been because she chose just to use one colour for the whole work, be it a pencil or charcoal pen. There are some examples where she made use of pastels and these works would have been much more colourful, perhaps even presentable as genuine artworks in their own right as opposed to just being studies for later larger paintings.
Frida Kahlo's Diaries
Kahlo produced a series of diaries during her lifetime, many of which have been recovered since her death and preserved for future generations to enjoy. In a similar style to her letters, the diaries feature a variety of poetry, thoughts and also many illustrations, all woven together in lively and colourful pages full to the brim with emotion and creativity.