Tag Archives: portraits

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 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.
Daily Sketches – 21, 22, and 23

Daily Sketches – 21, 22, and 23

Day 22 – Denim Girl

Day 22 - Portrait, Female - Denim Girl1

Digital artwork. Based on an online reference photo. I wanted to include more of the figure in the portrait drawing again. I liked the white and dark, and the clean lines. It’s interesting to note how much texture can be achieved even without lots of gradient areas.

Day 23 – Darcy

Day 23 - Portrait

Digital artwork. I felt like coloring today. The black lines being visible with the hair but with color underneath (very watercolor-like effect) is something I really love. The white area on her lower lip also adds a painterly look.

 

Day 24 – Jill

Day 24 - Portrait, Jill

Digital artwork. I kept this exercise graphite focused. Just a touch of some gradients really add a lot of life to a simple line drawing. The darkness of her hair adds a lot of weight and depth. I feel as if using an off-white background is sort of like cheating – making her look more ‘warm’ than she actually is – but I like the effect it has.

___

I am about a month into doing these exercises, and my comfort level with digital work has increased tremendously. I feel less as if I am fighting with tools, as if they exist to help me accomplish what I want them do. I feel as balanced with traditional drawing methods as I do with digital, particularly regarding simple line portraits – and that is a Really Good Feeling. The barrier to starting a drawing has also lessened – it feels more like play – exactly the emotional association I was hoping to cultivate.

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
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