A friend linked me to some pencil drawings that show every hair and pore, which honestly didn't appeal to me, as much as the skill was astounding, but it got me thinking about what kind of drawing I'd like to produce. What is my goal? I asked myself how I would like to draw. Could I find some samples of the sort of thing I'd like to do?
That set me on the trail looking for pencil portraits that I admire. Emulation is the sincerest form of flattery, you know. (Notice I didn't say imitation.) If a Google search on the topic is any indicator, those hair and pore portraits are most admired and in vogue, but I have something different in mind. It's a visual thought, and not one I can express very well at the moment, so I'm looking for things that bear a certain aspect that inspires me. Below I've placed a few examples that provoke my thoughts.
(By the way, you can do a right-click Google image search on any of these to find the source, if you happen to be using Chrome, as I am. They're all easily found.)
Let's start with Raphael. Whether these two examples are pencil, graphite, or silverpoint really matters little to me. I admire the soft shading and varied tones. The line work is in service to the values. There is such a delicacy to the touch, even in the boldest areas.
The one by Harlamoff is all about tones, too. I want to be able to make a soft transition across the cheek like this one, and I like the way he's caught texture in her hair.
Sabin Howard is a sculptor, which shows in this drawing. There's a sense of space in the short distance from the ear to his nose that I admire. As in the Raphael drawings, I like seeing the evidence of the medium used. It's not all perfectly rendered.
Both of the Britta Noresten portraits utilize value to make form, too. There's mark making in each, letting me know an artist's hand touched these.
And the last one, by an artist who only identified himself as Slmdanc3r, pleases me for all these same reasons. I notice he's added white into the mix. The background is what pleases me here, especially where he lets the arm merge into it.
All of the backgrounds interest me, for they're often the place where the hand of the artist shows most. From the face outward, there's a looser and looser touch. I like that. Yet the ground is not incidental or unconsidered.
After looking at these and analyzing things, I see that value, texture, mark making, and touch matter to me.