Saturday, January 21, 2023

More Than a Hundred and Still Going

1/3/23 Prismacolor, Derwent colored pencils (all reference photos by Earthsworld)
When I first started practicing portraiture in late September, I didn’t commit to a certain quantity, frequency or time span (other than the 31 days of InkTober). Initially inspired by France Van Stone’s crosshatching course, I figured I would keep going for as long as I was challenged and engaged and stop when I felt like it. I recently decided to collect all my Earthsworld-inspired portraits into a Flickr album, and I found I had made more than a hundred. (Please check out the album – the grid of faces is visually fun!)

Before I began this self-challenge, I had always been reluctant to take on portraiture because there’s such a natural pressure to capture resemblance when drawing a face. Although resemblance is still hit and miss (I’m trending in the direction of more hits than misses lately), the biggest change I’ve observed is in my ability to capture the essential facial gesture more quickly and without hesitation. In the early part of the hundred, I often hemmed and hawed about how and where to begin and fussed about measuring or not. Somewhere along the way, I began to simply pick an Earthsworld reference photo and draw it – no fussing at all. (If I’m too lazy to choose, I simply go to the Drawing Earthsworld Challenge Facebook group and draw whichever face the moderator has chosen for the day.) If I have any hesitation, it is in choosing the medium (a process which, of course, I relish).

1/4/23 Neocolor I

1/4/23 Neocolor I (same photo reference as above)
I enjoy practicing different approaches – looser and more gestural as well as more precise and detailed. I want to practice in a variety of ways so that the approach will be my choice – not a default setting. 

1/5/23 white charcoal, graphite

1/6/23 Prismacolor, Derwent colored pencils

I would like to eventually practice on more live models, which I still believe is the only way to study portraiture thoroughly. But there’s also much to be said for the vast variety and range of faces I have practiced drawing by using Earthsworld’s photos – a far greater variety than I could ever draw in a life-drawing studio (even a good one like Gage, which is well known for bringing in excellent, varied models). Any book on portraiture will give you the handy guidelines for proportions and placement of features on the average human face. After making more than a hundred of these portraits, I’m here to say that no face is “average”! Humans and their utterly unique faces are fascinating to study and draw, and each must be studied as a unique exercise.

1/11/23 Bic ballpoint 

1/11/23 Neocolor I (two takes on the same photo reference)

An Instagram follower recently commented on one of my portrait posts: “although I find your earthworld [sic] subjects ugly and non-inspiring, your approach as well as the rendering are noteworthy and a great source of inspiration for my own learning.” I was happy to hear that this follower was inspired, but I felt that she had entirely missed the point. If we draw only people we deem attractive and “inspiring,” our screening process will keep us from practicing as much – and the whole point is practicing.

1/11/23 Bic ballpoint

1/13/23 Nero pencil, chalk pencil

As long as I am engaged, challenged and having fun, I’m going to keep practicing. 

1/13/23 Prismacolor

1/14/23 Bic ballpoint

1/15/23 Bic ballpoint

1/15/23 Prismacolors

1/15/23 graphite

1/16/23 colored pencil

1 comment:

  1. You've probably done more portraits already than I've done in total in my lifetime. lol I admire your dedication and willingness to try different styles.


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