Saturday, May 9, 2009

100 Heads: Head #60

This is a copy of one of Rembrandt's self-portraits. The original is in oil; my copy is in charcoal and pastel. I used Winsor & Newton medium vine charcoal, Conte H, HB, B, and 2B charcoal pencils, and a Pitt white pastel pencil on Strathmore charcoal paper. Why copy a portrait? I am trying to improve my observation skills. If I copy portraits and consistently get a likeness, I know my observation skills are improving. I am also practicing my approach to portraits: Start with the general and work down to the specific.

I check my work by putting my drawing and the original side-by-side in Photoshop Elements. I learned how to do this here.

The likeness is not terrific. This portrait was not as easy as I thought it would be. First, older, flabby faces are tougher than young, lean faces. Muscles and bone structure help. Second, I discovered there are a large variation of values in the dark areas. At first, I tried to render the dark areas with a uniform value. It did not work. Third, the texture of the older face was a challenge. Rembrandt effectively used oil point to render the roughness of his skin.

I have a new appreciation for Rembrandt's work. His portrait is beautiful and so sensitively rendered. It is something to aspire to.

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