Tag Archives: sketching

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.
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
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
Michelle (graphite and watercolor)

Michelle (graphite and watercolor)

Michelle

 

ABOUT THIS PICTURE

5″ x 7″, graphite and watercolor on paper. Mixed media. A portrait of a female, using a reference photo. This was a fun way for me to experiment with watercolor pencils I had purchased from Prismacolor. They are easy to apply and offer quick, bold color. I would to use these pencils with ink and see what fun develops; I’m sure they’d be a great asset for on-the-go sketching.

Filed Under: Art
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