Monday, May 23, 2016

One Step at a Time

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I make it a point to practice drawing from live models once or twice a week. The adage, "if you don't use it you'll lose it" is so true with drawing and painting. Frequency is the key to maintaining skill level and dexterity.

For me, drawing and painting aren't that different in approach. I took progress photos using my phone every 20 minutes during this portrait to document my approach. (See image below).

The first 20 minutes is the most crucial. I look for a comfortable placement of the head on the paper. I'm working a linear approach at this stage. The big shapes are laid out: head shape silhouette, division of hair vs. face, placement of features in correct proportions, etc.

Since I'm working from a living breathing being, I know when the model comes back from a break the pose will be close (with some direction) but will never be the same. Hair will change, fabric folds will always change, the model may make slight adjustments to make themselves more comfortable as he or she settles into the pose. If I don't get this first stage down and locked in during the first sitting, I'll be chasing the drawing for the rest of the session.

Second, 20 minutes is simply separating light vs. shadow shapes. At this stage, I transition from using the line to a tonal approach. No different than painting. It's about laying down big areas of value and getting the value relationships to read correctly. I even start to indicate lighter values with white charcoal. I'm using a terra cotta colored pastel pencil on tan paper by the way.

Third 20, is about refining value shapes, building lights & highlights as well as building texture in the hair.

Final 20 minutes, boy does that last 20 go quickly! Refinement and polishing are the objectives until the model timer rings. Don't forget a signature!

Medium: Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencil & General's Charcoal White
Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan
Dimensions: 11x14 inches

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