Thursday, May 12, 2016

Musing on Drawing Portraits

I've been doing some drawings lately, focusing on eyes (pun intended) right now. It's a good exercise, examining the details of the eye, but it's in service to a greater goal. I'm enjoying life sized, detailed eyes, but extremely realistic drawing isn't really my goal.

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.)

Raffaello Sanzio 1483-1520 | Renaissance Drawings

I worked some more on this graphite self portrait.
Britta Noresten
Britta Noresten

Ongoing portrait drawing by Slamdanc3r

Let's start with Raphael. Whether this example is 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.

Both of the Britta Noresten portraits utilize value to make form. 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.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Artwork in April

Sometimes life just gets so full of mundane needs that it drives out creative time. Mine isn't entirely devoid of art, just thinly applied and sparsely done.


First, here's a small painting I did one Saturday. It was fun to revisit this familiar scene of the mountains in my old hometown, Albuquerque. I can see that it's becoming a softer memory now, but that's how it has to be. We've been away for 20 months.

It was painted in my little 3.5" x 5.5" Moleskine, using gouache, of course.


More typical of Amherst, NY, where I now live, is this gouache painting, done in my 5" x 7" sketchbook. During the first couple of months we lived here we walked at Amherst State Park. It was lush, late summer, with so much greenery and mysterious (to me) flowers layered on top of one another. I took a lot of photos, but this is the first one I've even tried to paint. I should do some more.

Sometimes you just have to splash around and see how it looks.


I could use a bit more real practice with my gouache, but most of the time drawing wins since I don't have to monopolize our dining room table to do it. At Easter I made some illustrations of Psalm 23, using sheep an online acquaintance shows in his videos. (Enjoy the Shepherd - Ray Carman, on Facebook.)


And recently I posted a video in my Facebook group called How to Draw Eyes - Structure by Proko. I decided to practice drawing eyes myself, since they are fun to do. In the 5" x 7" sketchbook using a 0.7 Bic mechanical pencil and my kneaded eraser.

I know eyes come in pairs, but it's easier to do one than both. All that matchy-matchy stuff is such a problem. (grin)

Oh, and if you want to be encouraged, check out our Facebook group, ENCOURAGING ART, and see if you want to join in. There are only a few of us there and we post art and ideas and share and encourage one another, without critiquing, unless someone wants it.


I'll try to post a few things here from time to time, but there isn't a lot of art going on right now. God is good, and I know what I'm called to do is more important than painting. That satisfies me, but every once in a while it is really relaxing to just move paint or pencil around, you know?