Tag Archives: graphite

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.

Poem and Picture A Day: Day 1

My new challenge up until the beginning of the new year is to draw a small drawing, and write a small poem a day. There will be no quality-judgment on my part, just producing and seeing what I can come up with in tiny, 30-minute maximum work segments.

Day One: Female Portrait and Dream Poem

Firmly Planted (mixed media)

Firmly Planted (mixed media)

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.

Firmly Planted - Mixed Media

Filed Under: Art
Nearly Flying – Graphite Drawing

Nearly Flying – Graphite Drawing

Nearly Flying - Graphite

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.

Filed Under: Art
Her Winding Self – Digital

Her Winding Self – Digital

After a long time of not working on portraits, I started longing to make them again. This is the beginning of my reintroduction. I am also firming up a mode of working. I want to remove boundaries and obstacles to starting a drawing–draw when I feel that impulse (low barrier of entry)–but have the power, scaling, and multi-media application that is possible with digital art.

I am trying out a new workflow: physical to digital

1) sketch the image on paper with graphite
2) semi-finalize lines
3) minimal shading with graphite
4) take a picture of the drawn image

5) upload image of the drawn image (scaling / resolution)
6) overlay uploaded image with digital lines / trace
7) working and finalizing lines as I go along
8) creating multiple layers digitally
9) manipulating layers/mood/look
10) finalizing lines
11) apply digital color
12) rework, edit, add, remove as needed

Here is a picture I titled, “Her Winding Self,” using this workflow method.

Her Winding Self - Graphite

The original image, graphite on paper.

Her Winding Self - Digital Color

The final image, with dark digital lines and digital coloring.

Filed Under: Art
Portrait Sketching – Days 15, 16, & 17

Portrait Sketching – Days 15, 16, & 17

Continuing daily sketches, I’m now past the two-week period! (Yay!) As you may note for yourself, there have been some stylistic changes these last few sessions.

Some contributing factors include:

  1. a small amount of time to sketch (maybe 15 minutes)
  2. a new set of pencils (by Ashleigh Nicole) which I’m getting used to
  3. a focus on hair and outlining shapes rather than detailed interior features — just to mix things up

Here is the sketchy stuff!  🙂

Day 15

Day 15 - Portrait Sketch

The first day I received my new pencils, and it shows. My lines are sketchy and all over the place. You can tell I was interested in figuring out the capabilities of the pencils more than actually focusing on the face. I wouldn’t have normally shared this picture, but in the spirit of sharing the process with this daily sketching exercise, I am.

Day 16

Day 16 - Portrait Sketch

I backed off my intensity with the new pencils and was rewarded. They are smooth and responsive. I am looking forward to getting familiar with them. I enjoyed making the nose and especially the hair in this picture. The 6B-10B grade of pencils in this set of are the quality I hoped for.

Day 17

Day 17 - Portrait Sketch

A digital work. I was rushed this day, putting this drawing together in my therapist’s waiting room. I didn’t get to develop her much, but am still pleased. The visible eyebrow is something I’m happy with. I will work on her more in the future, having gotten the features placed and started. I’m continuing to appreciate how much an off-white background adds easy warmth and life to a drawing no matter the stage of completion.


Now onto Day 18…where more progress awaits.

Thanks for reading and checking in. Are you working on an exercise, or artwork of your own? Please share! I love to see the wonderful things!

Loves and many hugs,

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Filed Under: Art
Daily Sketches – 12 & 13

Daily Sketches – 12 & 13

Day 12

Day 12 - Portrait Sketch

Spacing of features is still an issue for me, but the ability to get to this point with a sketch in a shorter amount of time is greatly encouraging. This took me about 15 minutes, as opposed to the near-hour this level of development was taking me only a week ago. Impressive results.

Day 13

Day 13 - Portrait Sketch

This day feels like a backslide to me. I spent as much time working on this image as I did the day before, but didn’t get as refined a result. I struggled with the facial view — straight-on, in the image the day before, was much simpler. I keep learning more and more that the less I build up first, the better the drawing goes. Starting with a less-dark graphite, such as an H-grade or less, is giving me a more polished look. Part of getting back into the swing of portrait drawing, with traditional tools and digital ones, is reintroduction to the tools. I want to increase my familiarity with them. To be able to, without thinking much, reach for and get the performance I have in mind, without having to correct. That will just take time and more practice.

Onward to Day 14, the two-week mark!

Filed Under: Art
Days 10 & 11 – Sketch Portraits

Days 10 & 11 – Sketch Portraits

Day 10

Day 10 - Portrait, Red

Digital portrait, drawn in Sketchbook Pro. I played with some color. Using synthetic paint, and seeing how much I could teach myself about color work, I experimented. I am pleased with the lips and the sheen of white — I know it’s not brilliantly executed, but being able to use color and incorporate it into daily sketching is a lot of fun — and a good learning, stress-free time.

Day 11

Day 11 - Sketch Portrait

Graphite on paper. I drew this by hand because I didn’t want to venture too far away from traditional practice. I’d ideally like to be able to sketch every other practice drawing using a different method. I used 2B graphite and put down the initial lines using H. Still struggling with lips, but feel happy with the nose and the structure of the eyes. Starting light, and working to heavier gradients and strokes is definitely the way to work — my brain and hands are beginning to remember the flow. I can almost feel the features as I’m drawing them — a very good intuitive sign I wish to cultivate more.

Filed Under: Art
Daily Drawing: Days 5 and 6

Daily Drawing: Days 5 and 6

Two more days of drawing to introduce you to. As I had thought would happen, Day 5 was not as progressive as I’d hoped. Happily, Day 6 was! There are flows to each day. It’s enough that I wake up, and get focused enough to draw — all the better when I draw — no matter the outcome I am still getting excellent, much-needed practice. Is there a better way to spend your time? Admit it, you’re thinking about disagreeing with me, but you can’t. Not really. 🙂

Onward to the drawings! 


Day Five

Daily Sketches - Day 5

I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to on this picture and the quality suffered for it. I am getting better at approximating the feature’s sizes without measuring. My shading is even coming along a little bit, particularly with the lips, which really are a trouble area for me. You can clearly see the “X”s as markers for insides of the eyes, and the hair loose and sloppy. I know that the spacing is off — in particular the relationship between the nose and the lips — also continues to be a problem for me in these exercises. The lines are getting more expressive and loose, and I am getting less reluctant to begin making marks on the paper. Even though not the best artwork so far, there have been some bravery developments. I’ll take it!

 

Day Six

Day Six - Face

 

See what I mean about the advances happening day-by-day? After seeing some lovely new brushes available from Sketchbook Pro, in my email, I decided to go digital with my sketch today. This is a good development, because it means I am getting more psychologically adventurous and am building some self-confidence (a big part of what I’m aiming for by doing these exercises). I’m VERY PLEASED. The features still are askew and lips are still kicking me in the face problem-wise, but …this is by far the best portrait drawing I’ve done digitally. The best digital eyes I’ve made so far, also. I did get to play a lot more today; I was able to spend hours experimenting, so it’s not actually a quick-study — still, a great success.

Day Six - Tapered Hair

The face from above but with an illusion of hair thanks to the “tapered synthetic paint” brush. I also love the watercolor brush that gives her pigmentation and rosy cheeks!

Keep doing your awesome stuff, too. I’m enjoying this work and I hope you are enjoying yours! Bring it on, Day Seven!
Love,
Penney

Filed Under: Art
4 Days of Portrait Sketching

4 Days of Portrait Sketching

A few years ago when I was first learning drawing, I did 100 portraits as close to once a day as I could manage.

In fact, most of the portraits you’ve seen on my blog have been due to this work period. Obviously, I made a lot of progress! It was difficult to stay determined and some days were a regression. Sometimes, I would advance in skill by leaps and bounds seemingly overnight. The most important thing to remember about the brain is: It is not a computer. It responds best with iteration, time, and practice. 

Ever really look at an artist draw? The artist makes lots and lots and lots of lines. Most them are completely the wrong shape, not perfect. But…then something magic happens. The artist’s brain warms up, it start making adjustments, lines go over other lines. Some lines are used as reference points for larger shapes. The features and the overall composition of the drawing start to show through the application of actively working, of keeping the lines and workflow loose, by being open and revising as material is being added. This is how the brain works: with averages, with shapes, intuitively, from other references, with something to look at, hold onto, and then craft from. The more “into it” you get, the better your end result. I’ve heard this state called “flow”. It might even look like mastery. It certainly is doing rather than a forcing. After drawing 100 portraits, it got easier for me to get to this place with art, emotionally, and with profound physical results.

I’ve stepped away from portraits for a long time. I’ve gotten pretty rusty at daily sketching. Putting hours and hours into a succulent or a digital image is a lot of fun, and yields a shiny, polished outcome. I enjoy it a lot, and will continue to do so, but I really missed the spontaneity and growth of focusing for an hour (or less) with a pencil and paper and doing a daily sketch! So, here I am again, returning to that practice.


Here are four days of sketching.

Already my progress and coordination is visible. I have a lot of relearning and familiarity to do. There will be backward and forward days, but I’m looking forward to the progress overall, and for advancing my art in this approachable way.

Day One

The first day of sketching. Note the incomplete facial elements and hesitancy making lines.
The first day of sketching. Note the incomplete facial elements and hesitancy making lines regarding features. The mouth is unfinished, the chin is elusive, and the eyes are overworked. Not too bad for a quick-draw — this is my first day — my entrance baseline of what’s to come. Excellent.

 

Day Two

The second day. Of note is the thick outlined features lacking in gradient -- particularly lips and upper eye. The nose is more realistic and structured in this sketch.
The second day. Of note is the thick outlined features lacking in gradient — particularly lips and upper eyes. The nose is more realistic and structured in this sketch. The entirety of the face, and the space between facial parts is firming up in my mind. Gradient awareness is coming along well.

 

Day Three

Day Three - Portrait Sketch
The third day. Trying a more difficult facial angle. The proportions are askew, but the lines are loosening up. Even though the mouth is still a problem area, the nose is looking respectable. I’m getting a grasp of space, angles, gradients, and composition.

 

Day Four

Day Four - Daily Portrait
The fourth day. My light and darks are getting bolder. My lines are looser and more expressionistic. Facial elements still need some strengthening, but clearly show a face. My work with lips is slightly better in this study. The nose is weaker. Eyes are far set and awkward, but the glint and shading of them is an improvement from previous sketches. I’ve scaled better to fill the paper with the image, and my initial gesture sketches were closer to the completed work. I’m can feel myself getting into a workflow.
Filed Under: Art
Claire (portrait drawing)

Claire (portrait drawing)

Claire - Close - Portrait

 

Claire - Full - Portrait


ABOUT THIS PICTURE

9.5″ x 11″, graphite on paper. This drawing took me a little over an hour to complete. I drew this toward the end of my “100 Portraits” consecutive-days drawing period. She is based from a reference photo I found online. Even though her eye is a bit overlarge, and some of the scaling of her features is slightly off, I really like how removing graphite made her light hair come to life. In terms of energy, and just-plain-fun portraiture, I think this is one of my best drawings.

Filed Under: Art
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