Friday, June 16, 2023

Hit or Miss


5/27/23 Bic ballpoint and white colored pencil in Uglybook

Although I don’t practice right-handed drawing regularly, I am still doing it occasionally. It’s become clear to me that my hit-or-miss ratio is about the same, regardless of the hand I use, because my brain is doing most of the work in terms of gauging proportions and angles. Which hand I use doesn’t seem to affect my ability to achieve resemblance; sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. Regardless of my success, I have relaxed about the need for likeness since my discussion with Roz Stendahl. Resemblance will always be a factor with portraiture, but it’s not the most important factor (well, unless you’re sketching the King of England, and then maybe it is).

The biggest difference between the two hands is strength and therefore the ability to apply pressure. It takes longer for me to finish a sketch with my right hand simply because I can’t apply as much pressure to the point of whatever I’m using. Interestingly, though, my result sometimes looks better with a lighter touch, so my right hand has something to teach the left.

In making the sketch above, I recalled the lesson I had learned from my self-teacher on another portrait. I measured the angle the two eyes made and got it right this time.

4/27/23 Bic ballpoint in Field Notes Streetscapes sketchbook 

Speaking of hits and misses, I was astounded and yet somehow encouraged that even Don Colley, whom I regard as nothing less than a modern master of life drawing (either posed or out in public), believes he misses as much as half the time. Along with numerous posed life drawings he posted on Facebook, he commented:

“Well, I had a hit or miss night. It’s funny but I’m as dependable in capturing a likeness when I draw in cafes or on the bus as I am when someone is holding still for 15-25 minutes, which is 50%.”

Although I obviously don’t have the actual models to compare with, his life drawings are all so well-rendered as well as alive looking (as opposed to something that could be a mannequin) that I found his self-assessment remarkable. At any level of skill or experience, I guess we all have room for improvement.

5/1/23 LePen Flex brush pen in Uglybook


  1. This one on the orange paper came out really nice. With all your practice you are making your portraits look more alive. I can't vouch for the likenesses but I think you're doing really well.


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