Practicing with some workflow concepts—changing from paper to digital. I made a simple drawing of a rose and some sage leaves that I had on my desk. I liked the layout and the composition. I kept wanting to add more, but I made myself stop, realizing it was just enough.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I know I’ve been away from art for months now. I can’t seem to get my mind back to a sitting still place. Even though, I have been doing a lot of sitting still—just a restless, unproductive kind. I have been experiencing a lot of emotional stress, and some weird physical symptoms. A lot of heaviness has been on my mind, and physically, I am feeling the toll of that in a new and unique variety of ways. My dissociative tendencies have gotten healthier and more manageable but I have a lot of internal work to do.
I am hoping that with deep breathing, mindfulness, and getting back to art via art therapy might just be the thing I need right now. Once again, I am back to building up my confidence by doing a small thing, which will hopefully lead to momentum. I smiled when I doodled these images on my phone—a positive sign that I’m in need of this expression.
There was a lovely portrait on the front of a recent National Geographic. So, I drew her (my hand work is terrible–need to work on that!) and added a potted plant, because I have been looking at a lot of Hope Gangloff lately, and it made me think of props in her wonderful portraits.
I was looking through some photo albums a few days ago, and spotted this lovely picture of a dark purple wild iris.
Using the new Cintiq I was given, I decided to try to draw it. Even though there are artistic liberties in this picture, I like it!
The start of the image, working in the major color groups.
And the end of the image for now, with color groups filled in, as artistic and free as I believe is effective. You will note that the background is filled in with more visually interesting bright spots of color, too.
My awesome family bought me a Cintiq! It is the most loveliest, most beautiful, most responsive, happiness-generating piece of equipment I have ever had in my life. Cintiq is a drawing tool. It has a stylus and a pad, and easily enables drawing in digital format. So, instead of drawing with my Fujitsu, which I had a lot of fun with, but it was getting quite old… I now have this super device that uses the power of my existing laptop. That makes it possible for me to run Photoshop, the drawing program, and all kinds of demanding tasks at once, with no fuss. I’m really looking forward to getting more comfortable with this tool, and taking advantage of the power and freedom of movement.
This is the drawing I made today, “Reclining Iris.” To see at a higher resolution, click here.
I took a recent trip to a Daiso store and got some lovely little mechanical pencils. I felt like making a figure portrait with a butterfly in it. The pencils worked out extremely well–one is an HB and the other is a 2B. The shading on the face was particularly rewarding and simple with the softer of the two pencils. I also used some graphite pencils from Ashleigh-Nicole that are very smooth and feel great. This turned out so well that I have a lot of confidence about making more portraits with insects and other animals featured in the future.
This was a short study in using simple lines to convey depth and perspective. I didn’t pre-measure, just launched in to the drawing, using my hands and eyes. I am still working on developing the connectivity between what my eyes see and what I can bring to paper. I’m sure this is going to be an ongoing process, with many iterations, for the rest of my life. I’m happy with this because I was able to get so much out of it being minimal in my approach. (To view at a higher resolution, click here.)
An ink drawing of an approximation of my sailboat at the opening of our marina. This started as a landscape, but I decided to include the boat. The perspective is off in places, but I like the composition. Not a bad drawing for not sketching first and making up the scene mostly from memory.