Wednesday 20 January 2010

Young Elvis Portrait, WIP 2. Finished

I did some more on this drawing today - very, very gingerly.  I added some more colours to his face, Dark Flesh, Light Flesh, Ivory.  Then some more colour in his hair, Dark Umber, Venetian Red, Dark Sepia, Ivory.  Then some general tweaking with Bistre, Nougat and more Dark Sepia - we're talking incredible restraint very tickly light strokes...not like me at all!  I resisted a strong temptation to put some Black on it, just to get the darks darker....decided it would ruin the delicacy of the image and take me down the slippery slope I went down on that last portrait of Lauren. 

The thing with portraits is that each stroke you put down matters a lot, especially on a little one like can so easily get it wrong.  Anyway, I'm going to leave it alone now, while I still like it!

N.B. Just noticed that the first WIP looks very pink compared to this one.  It's hard sometimes to get it to look 'correct'.  I think this one, ie. WIP 2, is much more accurate and faithful to the actual drawing.   

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Young Elvis Portrait, WIP 1. Just for practice!

Approx. 6" x 8".  Polychromos Pencils in Brown paper sketchbook.

I'm not really into doing Celebrity portraits but I'm on a bit of an Elvis 'trip' at the moment, having recently watched a TV documentary series on his life as told by the Presley family.  I've been a fan of his since the age of 9 or 10 and I've drawn many portraits of him over the years - this is the first one for a long while though. 

This is one of my favourite shots of him - it is a more informal one, different from all those other iconic pics we're all so used to seeing.  He was just 22 here and this picture was one of a series of casual shots snapped whilst he was filming Jailhouse Rock in 1957.  For all you purists out there yeah I know, it's not my photo - I'll probably burn in Hell now won't I?!

Anyway, I'm so glad to be back using my Polychromos - they are so gorgeous!  I'm using all the lovely Browns - Walnut Brown, Nougat, Bistre, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Dark Sepia and more.  I'm also using Ivory for the lighter tones, such a great colour - there is no equivalent, in my opinion, in any of the other brands I have.

This scan is a pretty accurate representation of the drawing at the moment.  It looks rather monochromatic and monotone (is that a word?) right now but I'll be putting some more contrast in there.  This piece is giving me lots of practice (I need it!) in rendering hair, getting features correctly proportioned and getting a likeness.  I don't want to overdo it though.  We'll see.

Monday 11 January 2010

Cat Portrait Demo and the Big Chill, some pics

Barley the Cat, 8" x 6".  Prismacolor and Derwent Coloursoft Pencils on Sennelier La Carte sanded pastel card.

This little picture is featured on the Mighty Art Demos website where I have described in step-by-step detail how it was done on the sanded support, for anyone interested in how I work.  There are also many other fascinating demonstrations on this site by artists using a variety of media - Enjoy!

And......I thought I'd post up a few pics of the extraordinarily snowy weather we are having here in the UK, just in case you didn't know!  This one is a view from my house..........


And these two are views of my back garden......

It looks quite pretty doesn't it?  Picture postcard stuff.  Yes...well it would be if we could all go shopping for vital provisions like bread, milk and tea (musn't forget my tea!) via a sleigh pulled by a team of huskies.  Unfortunately, no such transport is available round here and instead, we all have to either don the wellies and trek a mile and a half to the shops or dig out the car (literally) and risk life and limb driving along untreated icy roads.

I shouldn't whinge too much though, after all.......I could be living in Scotland - perish the thought!  Not that I have anything against Scotland, it's just that up there in the Highlands they are having temperatures below - 20 degrees C at night and conditions are said to be akin to those at the South Pole at present.

We are just not used to this white stuff, having had several years of very mild winters hitherto and having been lulled into a false sense of security by theories about global warming.  When we get more than a couple of days of snowy weather on the trot the country starts grinding to a halt.  By the fourth day of this current cold snap, news bulletins were reporting chaos on the roads with gridlock traffic and abandoned cars, schools closing (a highly contentious issue) and a serious decline in retail sales due to people not getting out to the shops!  And...... we've not had a refuse collection for four weeks now!  We'll be getting dysentery next.  Anybody would think there was a war on.   Where will it all end!

I'm beginning to sound like the proverbial grumpy old woman so I'd better stop now.  Roll on Spring, said she, trying to sound cheerful!

Thursday 7 January 2010

Portraiture. Three Lessons I've learned.

"Lauren, my daughter".  Approx 9" x 9" Prismacolor and Derwent Coloursoft pencils on Brown La Carte sanded paper.

This is a cropped piece of a larger drawing, 10" x 12", showing the drawing at an early stage before I messed it up.  I didn't pause to upload it as a WIP because I'm impatient and wanted to keep going and finish it.  At this stage it doesn't look too bad, I've got the basic tonal areas and features in.  From here on in, however, the whole thing went off the rails and this is how it ended up.

It doesn't look like the same person, does it?!  Whilst the final version is more finished-looking it has the look of a plastic doll, particularly the eyes, the shading is overworked and it just looks wrong.  More importantly, the first version is a much better likeness of Lauren - according to her elder sister who tells it like it is!  So what went wrong and what have I learned?

Well, I'm not going to beat myself up about it but be constructive instead.  Firstly, portraits are a tough genre in art as we all know because traditionally we are seeking to get a good likeness - unless, of course, you're wacky and off the wall like Picasso.  So.....practice, practice, practice is key.  I do not do enough of this.  As others have said before me, you have to put in the graft if you want to do well in portraiture.  So that's Lesson One.

Secondly, I think the first picture is fresher because I began by working swiftly, putting down quick strokes and generally drawing with an eye for the WHOLE image, all at once.  On this sanded surface you can get colour down quickly with pencils, more like using pastels, which I enjoy.  Also, you can work more spontaneously because you can put lighter colours over darker ones so you don't have to worry about reserving space for your lighter tones or going too dark.  

When I moved on to refine the tonal areas and focus on the features, I began to lose spontaneity and got bogged down in the detail - too bogged down.  Although it obviously needed to be refined and adjusted tonally, the key issue here, I think, is that I stopped looking at my drawing as a WHOLE image -  working each area or feature in relation to all the others.  I just zoomed in on one bit at a time and promptly lost the plot!  Then, when I stepped back and looked at it, the likeness had gone and it looked stilted and 'dead'.  So......Lesson Two......always keep the whole image in mind when working on any one part of it.

Thirdly, because I was enjoying the drawing, at least at first, I worked fast and furiously - like a woman possessed! - to get it done so I could stand back and admire it (Hehe).  I was so totally immersed in it that my eyes became tired of the image and judgements about colours and what needed adjusting became blurred and unreliable.  It's sometimes hard to stop and have a break when you are on a roll.  But........... Lesson Three.....I have to learn to take at least one good, long break, maybe even a few days, while working on a picture.  I will then be able to look at the picture afresh, see things I didn't see before and get it into perspective again.

I'm off now to knit me a lovely warm woolly hat, just bought the pattern - this cold, snowy weather looks like it's in for the long haul! 

Saturday 2 January 2010

A New Decade and Blogging: My first six months

So here we are in 2010!  Those numbers look a bit weird, kind of futuristic, much nicer than 2009 though, I think.  2009 was ok for me, the year I launched my blog onto the unsuspecting public!  Don't know how it will all pan out this year - the blogging that is - but I'm keen to carry on, do lots more drawing, enjoy the ride and just see how it goes.

I've been reflecting on my experiences of blogging, having completed the first six months of this art journal, as well as my arty hopes for this year.  There are several things I've learned from blogging.

1.     It has kept me drawing regularly, more so than I'm sure I would have done without it.

2.     It has made me think carefully about what I draw, how I draw and why I draw.  There is something about putting your work out there in front of an audience that really focuses the mind!

3.     It has given me new connections with other art bloggers and arty people, whose occasional comments I have greatly appreciated.  I've also enjoyed, and gained much from seeing, other people's blogs.

4.     It has given me insights into bits of me I never knew before.  For example, I really like writing - almost as much as drawing!  Writing flows out of me like water from a tap full on, drawing is more like a slow trickle - drip...drip......drip!  Maybe that's telling me something?!

5.     It is giving me an ongoing record of my work as it happens -something I can look back on and feel proud of - or cringe at -depending on what I drew or wrote about!

6.     There is sometimes a voice from within which says "You MUST post something scintillating AT LEAST every 2 or 3 days or you are not a true blogger/people will forget you/you are not a bona fide artist".  I'm learning to ignore that voice.  I'm a great believer in the adage that if you have nothing to say, don't say anything at all.  That goes for drawing too.

There it is then, my first six months.  So what about this new year?  Well, I don't have any rigid plans but I would like to do some drawings I can be proud of - good enough to enter into, and be accepted by, exhibitions....good enough to sell maybe.  I had some modest success in 2009 but I want to go further, get better at what I do, try new things with coloured pencils and most of all......(drumroll)....I want to Please Myself!  Because....if you don't please yourself, she said wisely, how the heck are you gonna please anybody else?

(Pause while I watch a documentary on TV about Elvis.  One I haven't seen before.....I adore Elvis).

Back now.....twas a very interesting programme, interviews with the Presley family, doesn't his daughter look like him? Uncanny.

Anyway, I'll sign off now.......I have a new drawing bubbling and ready to show very soon.  Happy New Decade everyone!


Related Posts with Thumbnails