A Pencilly Afternoon

As you may recall, my Pencil Portraits class will begin again, on 2/17/21. It’s a lovely class with a great instructor, social distancing, real people! None of this virtual stuff, which has its place, but doesn’t cut it for me. However, that is another story.

For my previous two Pencil Portrait classes, I spent the entire time – 2 hours a day in class for 5 weeks to do one portrait in each session. I learned a lot and got some good results. This time around, though, I am actually “prepping” for the class. I want to be able to render a likeness that is recognizable, but I want to try to do a portrait in each session. That means a portrait in two hours, for a total of 4 portraits (we are meeting for 4 weeks this time, with a possible 5th depending on what the class wants).

Thus, I have decided to refer to various how-to books in my library, as well as work with other resources, such as YouTube. With as many resources at hand, I just need to sit down and work on things. Today’s focus is on proportions and positions of the eye, nose, ears, and mouth in a frontal view and in profile, as well as some practice with shading – as I’ve noted, my ability to render shadows and contrast gets lost when I work with color.

Above are studies from the book Drawing Portraits for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink.

More from the Willenbrink’s book as well as a face I drew the other day. 

Shading studies with a look at where light hits a sphere from different directions.  Not too sure how realistic my results are, but in a way, just doing it and thinking about it is perhaps more important.  Being conscious of shadows is the whole point.  I learned a lot from a video by Xabio Arts, which is below:

Solving the problems of drawing means putting tools in your art supplies – mental ones for reference with a pencil (or pen, or brush!).

More shading, and a face.  Per the Willenbrinks, the face is about 5 eyes wide – which I know – and 7 eye-widths high – which I never learned.  Now that is a good trick.  From there – a couple of faces and shadows.

A face on a singe sheet of paper, using guides from the Willenbrink’s book as well as from a video on YouTube from Xabio Arts on drawing the face straight-on.

Now, profiles.  I really did not get the Willenbrink’s proportions very well.  Something eluded me.  The heads just don’t seem in proportion.  Thus, some YouTube videos on drawing the head in profile.  Not much hit me until . . .

. . . I came across a profile video done in 2015 by Liron Yanconsky on YouTube.  These are his proportions, and they work a lot better for me and how I want to set up proportions.  You can see his video below.

And the final drawing of the day is below.

Art is personal and we all have our own way of doing things.  It’s so interesting that, although we are taught the same thing, how our minds and bodies put it out on paper can be so different.

I’ve also realized that I never have had a drawing course, or read a book, that says “Do it this way!”  Technical mastery is not just in knowing how your medium works, but also how to render the real world around you.  This mastery becomes a jumping-off point to your own adventrues.

Pencil Time

After my attempts at a portrait of a person, the realization was that my shading skills are not really good.  Also, my Pencil Portraits class recommences on 2/17, so I thought it might be a worthwhile endeavor to work with a pencil, and work on value with the pencil.  This certainly will benefit any studies I do in the Pencil Portraits class, and perhaps get it into my thick skull to think a lot more about gradation and value than I do!  (Magpie Brain loves bright colors.)

I am very fond of the books by Alphonso Dunn on ink drawing.  His work is phenomenal, and I have learned a lot through his exercises.  Given this, I decided to apply some of his studies to pencil work rather than ink.  All of these exercises come from his Pen and Ink Drawing Workbook.

Above, is the first one I attempted.  If you look closely, you can see the page numbers in the sketches (enlarge the images by clicking on them).  These studies were outlines with a choice of light direction.  You have to use your imagination!

Shapes and shadows – reflected light, cast shadows, highlights.  Simple forms and then a rather pathetic toucan.

I particularly enjoyed employing the pen-into-pencil of these drawings in Mr. Dunn’s book.  His are obviously rendered in black and white, with shades of grey determined by pen strokes.  Here, I took his studies and applied pencil – graphite – to them.  They include a cabbage (I know, it looks like a brain), mushroom, hammer, and bow tie.  Each has a different set of textures.  I started to visualize where the light source was, and that really helped me start thinking more about what I was doing.

For all of these, I used a 2B pencil and a sketchbook, along with referring to Penn and Ink Drawing Workbook examples.

Eyes and Bottle

I took a few days off from painting and drawing because I needed to work on some sewing and knitting.  Made a couple of masks, and did a major step in a sweater, and those both took a lot more time than I expected.  But, breaking up patterns refreshes you – like a good vacation!

The next lesson in Keys to Drawing is to draw your own eyes!  I can’t see past my nose without my glasses, so it was a bit of a challenge.  Here I am, blindish and glasses-less.

I look pretty darned paranoid here!  My eyes are wide open and I am trying to see what I am looking at in the mirror.

The next one I did with my glasses on.

Hardly stylish, but at least I could see what I was doing!

Then, a tinted bottle.  As it is in the 90s, I have my water bottle everywhere I go.

Both assignments were to use a pencil, here an HB for both, and use lines.  The bottle neck is a bit small compared to the rest of the bottle – it’s really about 1/3 the bottle’s diameter – and a bit misshapen at the top.  I did have my glasses on when I did it.

As in painting, the idea is to go from the general (shape) to smaller details and to focus on line and shapes, not thinking, “I am drawing eyes” or “I am drawing a bottle.”  Overall, it worked.

Drawing Practice

Frustrated with my inabilities to realistically do perspective and depth, which I attribute to my lack of depth perception, I’ve decided to re-edu-um-cate myself!  I signed up for an online gouache class by Lena Rivo, which has been great, as well as bought an eBook version of Bert Dodson’s Keys to Drawing.  I have decided to dedicate part of each day to doing at least one of his exercises if possible.  The hope is to improve my drawing skills, which are the problems behind some of my painting issues.

First exercise is contour drawing.  The purpose of this is to get used to the idea of checking what you see against what you draw, and get the idea into your head that what you see is not what you think.  This means looking at angles and curves as well as relationships of parts to each other.  Here are my exercise examples, diving in feet first!

Next was fun – look at your hand face on – that is, fingers in your face!  Close an eye.  Draw!

And then, imagine a pepper.  Draw it.  Then get a real pepper and take a good, strong look at it, and draw.  My imaginary pepper is at the top, and the real pepper, in three positions and three variations of drawing style, are below.

Very glad I chose to do this!  More to come.

The Slough (Watercolors)

Above is the first in pen and iron gall ink.   Some watercolor, too.

First watercolor, on cheap paper.  No lines.

On Arches 140 CP.  No birds – they all flew away.

Given I haven’t done any watercolors for weeks, I decided to begin with pen and ink – not thrilled with results.  From there, straight watercolor without any preliminary drawings or pencil lines.  Got me loosened up and made me remember how much I like drawing and painting in any format except maybe acrylic and oils.

I think an abstraction in watercolor is on tomorrow’s agenda.

Fruitful Bowl

Finally, sat down and did some sketching.  I went out with my friend, Sharon, to a local bookstore for coffee, chit chat, and a bit of sketching.  So glad I did!  Good to get out and see a lovely friend, put a pen to paper, and just enjoy the time.  Lately I have been caught up with potential evacuations from local fires and too much TV bingeing (A French Village on Amazon Prime) and photography.  As a result, artwork has been put on hold.  Now, I hope I have the whatever back, and will continue!

Inktober 2019: #15 Legend

If you didn’t grow up in the 50s, the mask and hat may mean nothing to you.  If you did, perhaps you remember the TV show The Lone Ranger. It was my favorite show when I was a kid. We all wore cowboy and cowgirl outfits, complete with masks and six-shooters filled with rolls of caps. Bang! Bang! We all imagined riding horses over the wild hills, chasing bandits. I found Tonto especially cool because he was an Indian, played by Jay Silverheels (even his name was great!).  There were several people who played The Lone Ranger, but the one I remember is Clayton Moore.

Interestingly, I remember the actors’ names after all these years!

And if you want to ramble about PC-ness, go somewhere else . . .