Monthly Archives: October 2018

Gesture Portraits 31-33

Struggled to get into it today and it shows. My hands were going numb, so that certainly didn’t help. The eye measurements did seem to be more accurate today, even though some other measurements suffered.

A difficult orientation, but I struggled with it more than usual. All the elements are basically aligned. Not happy with the heaviness of the line misrepresenting the facial border, or the heavy hairline.

 

The head got wonky in this drawing. A difficult angle, and not a great source photo — I have to to remember to keep the source photo as pure as possible. This one was elf-like, and I didn’t accurately cope with that.

 

The drawing actually came together a little bit. Eyes still need some work, but they are making progress overall. Lips and nose are reasonable.

Gesture Portraits 28-30

After struggling with eyes for so many sessions, I focused more on them today. I used some preliminary measurement lines. I could use more practice doing measurements in general, and I am scaling from photographs, which complicates the likeness, too. Flipping through the sketchbook, I am seeing progress, so I’m pleased. I’m only about quarter through this sketchbook, so more drawings to come.

Here are the drawings from today’s session:

Portrait 28

My facial border is off, and chunky. I really do need to smooth that line out. Another turned-face orientation, which is tricky. My eyes aren’t quite as aligned as I wanted to be, but I like the overall sweep of this attempt.

 

Portrait 29

Felt as if everything was elongated in this representation. I see that creeping eye. The lips are okay, the nose is my favorite element.

 

Portrait 30

First of all, this looks nothing like the model. It took on some manly characteristics. It is a strange turned-face pose, which did complicate measuring. The nose is horrid. But the eyes lined up on their plane mostly, and that helps to make this picture slightly alluring. This drawing is definitely looking more like a study than gesture.

Gesture Portraits 19-27

Yes, I have continued working on Gesture Portraits. I decided I’m going to do them until the completion of my black sketchbook. I don’t know how many more that is, but it seems right that they should all be contained in the same book together.

This morning, as I was in the middle of drawing, I had a little visitor.

She is a giant blending stump.

 

Now has she progressed into a blending stump and a bookmark.

 

And the final pose of, “Now you can’t possibly pay more attention to this than me.” Note the drawn face being unceremoniously sat upon by a careless kitty. She has no remorse.

 

So, that was the first twenty minutes of my drawing session today…yay, pets!

Now, onto the actual drawing part.

I have done three every day over the last three days. I feel as if I haven’t learned much in getting better at it, but I have noticed some style changes. My drawings seem to have gotten tighter. My original lines are getting closer to correct approximations, especially skull and hairline. I do feel as if I have been struggling with facial features such as the lips and levelness of the eyes.

I have started to draw some preliminary measurements regarding the eyes, but it doesn’t seem to be helping me much, yet. I changed pencil brands once during a session, and that had an effect on some drawings. Two sessions were at night, one session was during the day. Time does make a difference—it’s easier to draw when I’m not expecting sleep. I feel as if I have taken some steps backward in these sessions. The line is tighter, my drawings seem to be changing to be more “studies” rather than “gesture.” I’m not going to fight that much, if I get to approach drawing feeling open and with a low-barrier, that’s really what I’m going for. The rest will work out over time, and with practice.

Now to the drawings! (19-27)

Portrait 19

The head shape looks good. The tightness of my line work is obvious. I see that sifting lip line and nose. This is a difficult pose, I’m surprised I got this as aligned as I did, even though it needs correction.

 

Portrait 20

That left eye! Ahh! But the nose and lips are decent. The overall facial shape is odd. But once again, this is a tough orientation, and it would take more time to get it right, I think.

 

Portrait 21

Facial shape is a little off, but fairly okay. The hairline is going well. Line is tight, but in this instance, I think it works. I chose another difficult orientation, and executed it reasonably well, given the time and limitation.

 

Portrait 22

This drawing does look more like a study. Easily my favorite of last three sessions. The eyebrows are off, but the alignment is almost correct. I think I captured the model fairly well in this sketch.

 

Portrait 23

That left eye is off. Nothing is really working for me in this sketch.

 

Portrait 24

Lines got darker and heavier. Some features are askew. But this is looking a lot more like a study.

 

Portrait 25

The nose is not aligned, eyes are making an effort, the lips are not lined up. The jawline is strange. I have no idea what happened, this is my freak show of the session.

 

Portrait 26

Another difficult tilted-head orientation. Eyes and nose are fairly okay. Lips are just goofy. Hairline is acceptable.

 

Portrait 27

Nose and lips are not aligned correctly, and that left eye is loo large. But, the eye plane is accurate, and I just love the facial expression.

 

So, I have very mixed feelings about this set of drawings. It is interesting to me that my form has tightened, and I have started to become more interested in the detailed shading accuracy of lips and noses. Also, that I tried to align eyes has changed some measurement focuses in the drawings, sometimes with successful results, and sometimes with strange orientation results. I am hoping that in time I will be able to perform more accurate measurements faster, and to do shading of features with enough success to capture the model’s representation.

How have your exercises and creative practices been going? I know that I’m not doing Inktober, I’ve been more doing FaceTober or Pentober or Graphtober. But this is working for me. It’s been nice to see results from effort applied.

Wishing you results and progress,

Gesture Portraits 10-18

Today, you get three days’ worth of drawings! I have been sticking to the practice, even though I haven’t posted.

Two sessions were at night before bed and one session was today during the day. I’m still learning. I’m still violating my own guidelines (I have to stop doing that.)

I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten the hang of this, but the emotional barrier to drawing has lowered dramatically–since that is the number one reason I started, this exercise is already a success, no matter the outcome of the drawings. Yay!

But, as it is progressing, the drawings are coming out quite well. I’m still struggling with the time limit—I’m drawing for about 10 minutes each, when it should ideally be less. I am pleased though, looking back on other drawings, that I am managing to get as much quality out of these 10-minute drawings as I have in 30-minute drawings, or even hour-long drawings in the past.

What I am learning, and small variations I’ve done so far:

All 2B pencils are not the same!
In fact, grades between brands do not perform the same.
One day I used a 9B from an entry-level set of pencils I have.
The 9B wasn’t anywhere near as dark (or as soft) as a 2B from another brand.
So, I had to switch pencils. I just couldn’t get what I wanted from that 9B.

Sharpen, sharpen, sharpen.
Don’t be lazy! Just resharpen that pencil.
I promise 5 seconds isn’t going to stop your flow.

Take a moment to focus on the image.
My drawings started going better when I forced myself to stop and just look at the image for a few seconds.
Just take in all the shapes, the relation of facial elements in the picture, the negative space of it.
Should be a few-second “absorption” look.

Don’t judge your work, at all, while you’re in progress.
Say, you get done with portrait #2 for the day…don’t think about it,
don’t even begin to say, “I wasn’t happy with that,” or “that’s not as a good as yesterday…”
Don’t Even Think About It. Just keep drawing.

Music changes the quality.
I tried listening to music one day. The drawings were still good, but it shifted my flow state.
I like listening to music when I’m doing coloring in a drawing, or intense work, but for measuring, nope.
Everyone is different, maybe music would help you. But for me, the “setup” of a drawing needs to go without.

I tried some different grades of pencil, besides 2B.
I’m not sure how I feel about this yet, I’m going to play with this some more.
I didn’t like having to put down my pencil to retrieve another pencil during this exercise.
But a different grade was occasionally helpful, especially with eyes.

Eyes are getting easier!
The shading of them and positioning is getting more accurate.

Lips are still difficult.
They are still tricky, especially in relation to the chin. It’s a challenge to get that measurement correct.
Lipstick and gloss on women also changes the lines and light quality, I’m finding this a little frustrating.

And I seem to have a you got it / you didn’t get it relationship with noses.
I’m having some trouble with noses these last few sessions. Not sure why.
Gotta slow down, and take it easy with this feature.

Starting with hair at the top, and placing facial features is a great way to get an accurate facial border.
It’s easier to place the hairline and cheeks / facial shape with something to relate it to.

Contrast makes everything look better.
Shade a little darker around the light areas, especially the highlights in the eyes.
Be super light next to dark places. Contrast will make your drawing come to life, even if your shading or shaping is wrong.

Here are drawings 10-18!

Portrait 10

Look at all those lines in the hair, trying to work out the shape and flow. The eye measurements are good, the nose is okay, and those lips (even that heavy upper line) is doing much better.

 

Portrait 11

Probably my favorite outcome so far. Eyes are a little off, but the personality of the model is there! I also like how I was big and loose with my lines, and her face fills the entire page.

 

Portrait 12

Lots of makeup on this model, and that does change the rules. I was intrigued by the long-upward hair, and I noticed it actually made me draw differently, from the bottom-up rather than from top-down. Eyebrow placement is askew, and so are eyes, but overall, a fun experimentation with contrast.

 

Portrait 13

I was a lot less loose in this session, and this drawing. I did manage to get better facial borders. And lips and nose are more polished.

 

Portrait 14

I really like this portrait. Even though the hair is not accurate, and the nose and lip relationship isn’t aligned, the look of the model is showing through nicely. Which goes to show you can have feeling and expression without accuracy.

 

Portrait 15

This model was also heavily in makeup. The hair was involved, so isn’t accurate, and it felt a little too easy no having open eyes. I am happy with the facial border and shading. The lips also work.

 

Portrait 16

The features are huge. Placement is progressing. Lips are going better. I struggled with this session, and it shows.

 

Portrait 17

I’m pleased with the positioning. All of the facial elements and the titled head pose are well done for the short amount of time I spent. Facial borders are getting firmed up again.

 

Portrait 18

Another model with makeup. The eyes are bit off, but the emotion of the model is showing. This is the worst nose I’ve done so far. I just couldn’t get it to work out, and I didn’t want to resort to an eraser. (Maybe in future drawings I will allow myself the use of the an eraser.) I did struggle with the facial border, as you can see from all the lines. But, the jewelry accessories made this fun.

 

As you can see, I’m working the exercise. Some days are better than others. I haven’t done any one picture that I would come back to and develop further, yet, but I might change my mind later. I’m suspending judgement for now, just being an “unthinking drawer.” That mindset seems to eliminate anxiety, and keeps me open to the image at that moment.

I hope you are doing well in your own creative efforts.

 

 

Gesture Portraits 7-9

Continuing with gesture portraits today. Not as happy with the results today as I was yesterday, and I did tend to spend more time than I really wanted to with each of these. The average time was maybe a little less than 10 minutes, and should ideally be this level of competency (or better) in 5 minutes or less. But, I’m sure all of those elements will come together in time. That is why, I am practicing after all!

Lessons learned today for this specific (gesture portrait) practice:

Sharpen that 2B pencil!
It really helps at the beginning of a drawing to make loose, fluid lines.
Sharpen again and again as the drawing continues.

Eyes are involved.
They are just going to take more time to develop.
And this may not be a thing that will advance with this quick-drawing method.
But, first-time placement of the main features of the fact should get easier. This includes eye placement.

Noses are (relatively) easy.
It doesn’t take much to mostly get them right. Little suggestive outlines, and you’re good to go.
The difficulty comes with placement, which I haven’t gotten the hang of, and with showing the uniqueness of the model.

Lips are too easy to make into a cartoon.
Like noses, I imagine if I can plug into them better, I could use some suggestions of line and shading and get some better results.
Right now, I’m still thinking of them as the ideal-model-full-lipped-lips, and I’m having trouble seeing real lips. I am hoping this will adjust.

Pick a model that isn’t wearing heavy makeup, or who isn’t smiling.
In example two from today, of Portrait 8, heavy lipstick and smiling obstructed my effectiveness with this technique.
Heavy makeup changes the lines and the shading, which might make your drawing subject not look human.
Teeth are involved, require time, and delicate placement and shading—not a good feature for this exercise.

Now, onto the portraits and observations.

Portrait 7

Besides it being pretty flat, this is a good start. You can tell my line is a bit tight because of the boxy facial border. The left eye is raised, but the placement is not too bad.

 

Portrait 8

This hairline was tricky! And as you can tell, I didn’t get it. Smiling lines are going to take some time to work out. The lips are overblown and bizarre, part of that is because the model was wearing heavy lipstick, which changes the human-looking characteristics! She also was smiling, and that would have taken time to develop, so I “fixed it” which kind of looks awful. I am happy with ear placement, though. 

 

Portrait 9

Yes! Progress! This looks like a believable face. Eye placement could be slightly better, but the face outline is pretty good. Nose is nice, lip work is getting better. I saved the crazy lines in the hairline and the chin to show you how much I was “measuring by line.” Also, to appreciate how loose (and off the mark) my lines began.

Gesture Portraits 1-6

In an effort to draw more, but keep my barrier of entry low (and the practice and line motion high) I decided I am going to do some gesture portraits.
Gesture, for those who you who are unfamiliar with it, is this: (definition from wiki)

A gesture drawing is a laying in of the action, form, and pose of a model/figure. Typical situations involve an artist drawing a series of poses taken by a model in a short amount of time, often as little as 10 seconds, or as long as 5 minutes. Gesture drawing is often performed as a warm-up for a life drawing session, but is a skill that must be cultivated for its own sake.

In less typical cases the artist may be observing people or animals going about normal activities with no special effort to pause for the artist. For example, drawing from people on the street, performers, athletes, or drawing animals at the zoo.

The key takeaway for my use of the word and technique is: “short amount of time, often as little as 10 seconds, or as long as 5 minutes.”
And that it is a skill performed as a warm-up for a drawing, but should also be cultivated for its own sake.
So, that is what I am going to work on.

These are portraits primarily using the technique of gesture drawing.

If I develop them more, or shade or color them, or it becomes a more fully-realized drawing, great.

Or, if they become the basis or inspiration for a future project, that’s good, too.

In the same way I have been freeing up my poetry, to come up with a few lines at a time (the poetry equivalent of sketching), I thought, “why not get back to drawing in the same way?”

No pressure, not outcome, just semi-daily practice and some fun.
So far, the results have been surprising good, especially, since I’m not measuring or laboring over anything.

I’m just looking at a picture and letting that arm move, with my drawing brain doing what it needs to do.

The happy outcome that is happening while trying this mindset (with both poetry and drawing): I’m learning to get out of my own way.

Here are 6 gesture portraits. Three I drew a few days ago, and three I drew today.

Portrait 1

Note there are lots of lines. This is my first try. I’m really trying a little too hard here. Also, this pose is tricky in the best of circumstances, so I’m actually pleased with this way this came out, without measuring.

 

Portrait 2

I got looser with Portrait #2, but sacrificing a lot of structure. Still, pretty decent. I’m pleased with the ruffles of the collar being playful and expressive, more than the execution of the face in this attempt.

 

Portrait 3

Once again, too loose. Even though her lips ended up looking like the Joker, her hairline and eye set are remarkably good, especially for a look-and-line, devoid of measuring.

 

Portrait 4

Shading is getting good for a quick-line portrait. I had some watercolors I couldn’t help playing with. You will note the eye set is the issue in this picture. But the nose is decent.

 

Portrait 5

Now some progress is really starting to show. This profile is super difficult, especially without measuring, and even though it still misses the mark, it’s not bad. The eye set is a little odd, but that nose and those lips at that angle are pretty close to what they should ideally be. I like that I get the bun and the skull shape basically correct. (This can be tricky too, as one always wants to shorten the skull shape!) I also like how the lines are loose around the collar, but present. This is my favorite of this exercise so far.

 

Portrait 6

This picture has extra complications due to the glasses. Now I know that glasses change shading, especially under the eyes and cheeks. Even though this drawing has a lopsided chin, and the eyebrows are off, the likeness of the subject in the drawing is actually better than all the other portraits so far.

Keeping the Line Open

Above is a grouping of lines I wrote by hand, in an effort to keep my mind all the more open and receptive to what comes.

I have taken to writing more frequently, and that has been restorative. Instead of straining to make it good, I’ve been trying to make a mindful effort to keep it open. What do I mean by that? By default, I tend to be a tight-little-fist of person. I think you know the type.

When it comes to writing, I have, in the past, wanted completion. I wanted all the images to work, to be what they are when they emerge, need tiny amounts of editing, and set them to roam the earth. I still believe in what I hesitate to call “an organic process” of writing, but I also have adapted my thinking.

What if there could be just a line?
What if it wasn’t a full poem?
What if it could be exactly what it is, and nothing more?

At first, I was uncomfortable with this idea. Of course, I wanted to develop it, to make it several stanzas, to complete the thought more. Could I still be considered as “in a work session” if I only emerged with a line? Why was the idea of ‘not being done’ uncomfortable to me?

I sat with this feeling and explored a little. I realized that I had been forcing a lot of phrases into poems that haven’t had the legs to support itself. By insisting that thoughts be complete, I had made a lot of subpar poetry. This, in itself, isn’t bad, as one needs lots of bad poetry to get to a good poem. But, it was making my words weak, my themes watered down, my time and attention spaced out and distorted, and I began to see a pattern of reviewing my writing—everything was sounding the same, and not in a pleasing way.

I have been reading The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio again, and that has reignited feelings of wanting to create fuller-bodied poems, spending time with them as one would savoring a meal or a fine wine. I feel for me, that means my process needs to slow down, open up, and not be restricted by time or the emotional pressure of finalizing.

I am greatly looking forward to what this shift in mindset brings me. Already, I have gained a peace and pleasure in writing I haven’t felt in a decade.

What do think you could do along this same path? In what way can you open your writing, and let it be enough for the moment?

Much creativity and rewarding exploration to you,

Poetry Journal Excerpt: August 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did end up writing a few poems in August, which is supremely encouraging. I have been pecking at reading more of The Poet’s Companion. I can’t say that the prompts from that have led to any work, as I have not being doing the prompts! That’s on me, not on the quality of the book. The book is amazing.

I have been reading more contemporary poetry during the day, which does put me in a receptive mood for the poems that are inside of me.
Nicola Mae Goldberg’s “Wisconsin” in Winter Tangerine has really impressed and propelled me.

I want to move toward more full-bodied poems. Poems that say more and have more substance. I have a tendency to rattle off about three to four stanzas and then walk away from a poem. I want my poems to be more like a meal, or an experience, than a flash of light, or a sparse, mysterious vision.

I don’t know if this will mean a change of style or voice, or if this is what experimentation looks like. Is it a desirable idea? Either way, it never hurts to play–and to use an artistic illustration, it might be like breaking out the watercolors when you’ve been used to oil painting. Or maybe making a collage–changing it up altogether. But I feel like I am ready for this, and it feels like a natural transition. So, onward, I will play. (And will share that play.)

Speaking of sharing…here are some excerpts from the writing of August.


 

 

I am still submitting work into the world, so it’s all happening at its own pace. No recent acceptances yet, but there is still the hope.

Wishing you creative experimentation and growth in your own season,

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