Friday, January 28, 2022

Pre-Class Portrait Homework


1/26/22 Conte crayon (from photo)

A few days before his workshop that was scheduled for this weekend, instructor Ned Mueller (whose demo at Gage Drawing Jam impressed me thoroughly) invited students to a short Zoom meeting. An important purpose was for him to get a sense of everyone’s experience level, which is all over the map: Some students said they are beginners, while at least one is an art instructor herself with many years of experience. Ned asked us to submit a few recent drawings before the workshop to give him an idea of skill level and to help him target the instruction and feedback appropriately.

After showing a time-lapse video of him making a portrait of the type we will be making in the workshop, he gave the optional homework assignment of submitting one or two portraits in the method he demo’d. Initially, I was a bit taken aback by this pre-class homework – How can I do the thing I’m taking the class to learn? – but the assignment was straightforward: Don’t make a finished drawing; just focus on large shapes, size of the head, and placement of features. OK, I guess I can do that. I picked out one of the photos he sent us to work from and made the portrait above with a sanguine Conte crayon.

A huge challenge for me will be scale: The drawing above is on 7-by-9-inch paper at the same scale as the reference photo, which made it fairly easy to copy. In class, we will be using 18-by-24-inch paper! I’m so used to working in a small sketchbook or paper no larger than 9-by-12 inches (or whatever fits on my desk) that the large size will be quite a stretch (literally in my small studio!). I don’t have a full-size easel, so it will be interesting to see how I manage.

Unfortunately, we just received notice that the full workshop has been postponed a few weeks. I’m still looking forward to it, and in the meantime, I’ll figure out how I’m going to draw on big paper.

Hmmm... I wonder how I'm going to draw on 18"x24" paper...?


  1. Sorry to hear the class was postponed. You did a great job on this drawing. I know when I do portraits they seem to shrink on the paper as I do them. I start with a large sheet and end up with a small sketch.

    1. I've done that, too! I'm looking forward to the challenge!


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