Monthly Archives: October 2018

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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