Sunday, April 26, 2009

100 Heads: Head #58

This is a portrait of my son Christopher. You can see the reference photo below. I used medium vine charcoal, Conte H, B, HB, and 2B charcoal pencils, and General's white charcoal pencil on blue Strathmore Charcoal paper. And I used a little bit of red pastel too. I have recently made some portrait drawing process changes:

  • I work standing up at an easel now, rather than sitting down and drawing in a sketch book. Being able to step back and look at both the photo reference and my drawing at the same time seems to improve my proportions and values.
  • When I am standing back and looking at the photo reference, I squint in order to see the major shapes and values. Human beings do not focus on detail the way a camera does. There is no reason to try to copy all of the details in a photo.
  • I work on the general shape and tilt of the head, position of features, and planes of the face before getting into details of the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. This is contrary to my instincts and is hard for me to do. But slowing down and getting the big picture right is faster in the long run and leads to better results.
There is nothing new about any of these revelations, of course. Sometimes it just takes a long time for the basics to sink in.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book Review: Teach Yourself Visually Drawing

I came across this book at my local library: Teach Yourself Visually Drawing by Dean Fisher and Josephine Robinson (Wiley, 2008). I am always on the lookout for new drawing books, so I checked it out. It is excellent.

The book takes an atelier approach to drawing. In fact, many of the drawings remind me of drawings in Classical Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides. Teach Yourself Visually Drawing, however, is a little more down-to-earth and accessible. For example, Teach Yourself Visually Drawing has numerous step-by-step demonstrations.

Teach Yourself Visually Drawing has the following chapters:
  1. What is Drawing?
  2. Drawing Materials
  3. In the Studio
  4. Prepare to Draw
  5. Discover the Pattern of Light and Shadow
  6. Introduction to One-Point Perspective
  7. Add More Dimension to Your World: Two-Point Perspective
  8. Discover the Potential of Line
  9. Planar Rendering of Complex Forms
  10. Draw a Plaster Cast
  11. The Portrait
  12. Drawing the Human Figure
  13. The Landscape

Most chapters end with a gallery of drawings. The drawings are by a variety of artists and are just exquisite. Very inspiring.

Teach Yourself Visually is evidently a whole series of books (e.g., Teach Yourself Visually Knitting, Teach Yourself Visually Guitar, Teach Yourself Visually Windows XP). The marketing slogan is "Read Less-Learn More". The idea is to learn by looking at pictures rather than by reading. This sounds intriguing, but in reality, most art books teach by showing art in various stages of completion. This book is good not because it has more pictures and fewer words than other art books, but rather because of the classical approaches it teaches and the exquisite drawings used to illustrate the techniques.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

100 Heads: Head #57

This is a copy of the painting Portrait of Gabrielle Cot by William Bouguereau (1825-1905). You can see a reproduction of the original here. I do not think I have quite captured the likeness, but I have worked on it long enough and am ready to move on. I am trying to train myself to be more observant; one way I judge my observation skills is by how close I can get to a likeness. In portraiture, precision counts. I used a HB mechanical pencil in a Canson sketch book.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

100 Heads: Head #56

This is a copy of Portrait of a Peasant Girl by Alexei Alexeivich Harlamoff (1848-1915). The original is oil on canvas; my copy is black and white charcoal on gray paper. This is the WetCanvas April Monthly Portrait Challenge 2009.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Toy Story

I enjoy drawing Christopher's action figures.

Monday, April 13, 2009

100 Heads: Head #55

This is my husband Bob, watching a Heroes episode. Save the cheerleader. Save the world.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

100 Heads: Head #54

This is a scribbled line gesture drawing of my son Christopher. He was asleep with his shoulder hunched up over the lower part of his face. Scribbled line gesture drawing is a little like sculpture. You push in the form by scribbling more, and you pull out the form by scribbling less. Getting proportions right can be a challenge, since you start at the center of the form and work your way out.