portrait on toned paper

A Cascade of Portraits

fountain pen, watercolor, white gouache in beige toned Nova sketchbook

Time to catch up on posting portraits from the past couple months. It’s my way of archiving and maybe getting ideas for new directions or more practice on old. All of these portrait subjects are from the Sktchy Museum free access archives. Many thanks to the folks who offered these great poses!

Here we go! This fellow above has the kind of face just made for portrait artists! Life experience chiseled into every dip and turn of the physiognomy.

I’m beefing it up here with lots of watercolor texture, splatters, wet crawl-backs and the stuff watercolor loves to do, if you let it.

fountain pen and gouache on w/c paper

As always though, bouncing back and forth between the quick-and-simple to “clear the palette” after getting so detailed.

Started this one with a fine liner pen, adding w/c textures in layers.

fountain pen, w/c, white gouache, white gel pen on beige toned paper

Can you tell that my main interest here became this fellow’s black hair and beard, the texture and color – blues and indigos. I never got back to finishing the rest in similar detail. Best to stop while ahead.

pencil, w/c and white gouache on beige toned paper

It’s really about the hard working hands here. What is she doing with this lapful of herbs? I imagine the simple hard working life of my ancestors. Rising before dawn, in bed by nightfall, and all those hours with no screens to lure the mind away from the tasks of the moment. . .like sorting herbs.

brown and blue de’Atramentis Document Inks and white gouache on beige toned paper

I wanted to try out my the new colored inks I bought for my fountain pen sketching, and ended up using them in dilutions as paint as well, and even mixing them with white gouache for pastels. 

If you got this far, thanks for coming! Questions and comments welcomed.

A Month of Portraits

Scanning through the pictures on the Sktchy Museum app is something I enjoy doing at otherwise idle moments. Click! and my favorites are bookmarked for whenever the next moment time presents itself at my sketch table, which is generally about every other day, especially right after dinnertime.

It’s easy to get behind on sharing them here, so today will be a bit of catch up. I will try to share what struck me about each one that made me want to try it, and a bit about materials and approach. The models are people who have posted posed pictures of themselves for others to sketch.

fountain pen and watercolor in 7X10″ Field Watercolor Journal

It’s obvious why I wanted to sketch this goofy guy with the crooked mouth! The pose inspired me to draw directly with pen in the scribble-til-it-looks right method.

Again practicing drawing directly with pen in continuous line and then adding a rapid application of watercolor, using sap green, opera, and sepia with very little mixing, to design light and shadow shapes. 

pencil and watercolor

This time I tried the softer scribble approach of using pencil for the drawing (no erasing) and wet application of the watercolor. Painting the hair this way was a revelation! Descriptive without being fussy, and it took only a couple minutes, letting the water do the work with the pigment.

pencil, gouache

Such an expressive face! I tried “sculpting” the light and shadow shapes with gouache applied somewhat thinly like watercolor, so it’s hard to tell the difference.

fountain pen and watercolor

Another pen scribble portrait. I ended up wishing I’d been more careful with the drawing. It was such a great pose! Reminded me of when my son Ben used to carry his leopard gecko around on his shoulder!

pencil and watercolor

The he-man pose and the pompadour hair. How could I resist. A darker background might have been better, but then there was something about the little-boy-blue that also seemed to fit.

Derwent Linemaker pen 0.3 and watercolor

Using lots of pen lines here made it possible for the watercolor to go on in a less self conscious way.

pencil and watercolor

Back to a pencil drawing the next day! The alternation of materials is more entertaining for my restless mind.

white gouache on black toned paper

Such a soulful pose! A completely different process of drawing and painting with white on black. I had no strategic approach, except to keep adding and lifting off the white paint, adding a touch of black gouache when I needed to reinstate the darkest black. I couldn’t be bothered with making the applications smooth, and it wouldn’t suit the edginess of the subject anyway.

Derwent Fineliner pen and watercolor

Here’s another one I wish I had drawn in pencil so that the scribbly lines didn’t distract from the beauty of watercolor. Such an incredible pose! and the hair!

Character studies

I’ve almost filled up my Stillman and Birn Nova sketchbook with the three toned papers: beige, black, and gray. Time to order another I think. The Museum app keeps offering not only these great poses but inspired portrait art from artists all over the world. Have you tried it yet?

gouache and white pencil on black toned paper

Abandoning refinement in the service of drama here. The particles suspended in white gouache make for a chalky surface revealed in all its roughness when painted wetly on a black surface. You have to just let it do its thing and be ready to move on! Next portrait I painted on black though, I dispensed with the white pencil drawing which did not dissolve and could not be erased.

white and blue gouache on black paper

Rick N. is another favorite on the Museum app, willing to offer his visage in the creation of characters like this ? mad magician?

white gouache, period

No background or hair or clothing needed here! It was done in minutes. Brilliant pose Roxana!

w/c, white gouache and white gel pen on beige toned paper

By this day I was ready to take my time and try for a bit more refinement.

brush pen, watercolor, white gouache on gray toned paper

This one got a bit out of hand very quickly, drawing with the brush pen!

watercolor, gouache, white gel pen on gray toned paper

It’s fun to go in at the end of a portrait with some unexpected color bounce. Really the green is just an exaggeration of what is there. And it works so well with the violet tones.

Hardcore

The Muses back in Sebastopol met this week to work on self portraits together. Not wanting to miss out I braved the chaos of my garage studio and decided to take the easy way out, using an old lesson I taught many times.

Take a picture of yourself using the Comic Strip filter on the Photo Booth app (if you have it on your computer) and print it out in Black and White. Then carve it up, glue it onto the paper and have your paint/gesso/collage way with it. Add words.

paint, fabric, comic strip collage

 

Just give me a space to paint and

I’ll find a way

SOMEWHERE

      Between ceiling hooks and oil stained floor

There’s a place to thrive

      In a maze of U-haul boxes

      Partly opened and fully unorganized

SOMEWHERE there’s a place to paint

To cut and paste and draw and write

Because I’m hardcore. . .

Just help me find those scissors I left. . .

SOMEWHERE. . .

 

 Confusion is often the name of the game these days, but one thing is certain. It will be many more months before life settles again into some predictable rhythm, (and the ability to find the good scissors when you need them!) So I just bought myself a new pair. The girl in the picture is OK, even though the snakes on the head sometimes get a bit out of hand!

This is why it’s good to do a self portrait at regular intervals in order to check in on yourself, or to look back at earlier ones to see if things might have changed. Here’s one from May this year when the Sh”!t was really hitting the fan prior to moving!

The look on her face before leaping the chasm. . .

Characters

white pencil and gouache on black toned paper

We all love characters! They wake us up and make us realize that being a human is an amusing business, capable of endless entertainment. And Derek McClure, of Sktchy fame, is one. . .or many as you will see here. I have sketched him in his many personas. He photographs himself at angles that distort and amuse. My lack of skill with gouache and BLACK paper help me to relax a bit and just give it a go. 

watercolor on beige toned paper

Here he is again! eye popping and jaw dropping his challenge to “paint me!!” I draw it with pencil and then just, gulp, dive in anywhere to start painting. Eventually it starts to look like someone, and so I throw caution to the wind, and keep painting, glad that no one’s looking. Telling myself that I don’t HAVE to post this on my blog. The best part is the end, coming in with white gouache for the highlights and white pencil or pastel for the hair. And, well maybe I’ll post it after all. I always do.

More Faces

Most of the Muses on the Sktchy app, that is the folks who submit their picture for anyone to draw, most of them are themselves artists. Just as most of the figure models for figure studio groups are themselves artists. And that makes for some great poses with that elusive and greater sought after trait. . .Character! Here’s some more of my portrait practice.

gouache and pastel pencil on black toned paper

Those of you who are doing the #30faces30days challenge this month may recognize this muse, but do a double take. The model is a white man, but very quickly my drawing steered into person-of-color-with-a- Portland-style-man-bun territory, which I liked very much.

The caption here should read “it’s about the eyes”, and I considered cropping off the rest, but that would be too startling.

Some day maybe I’ll finish the head wrap, but by the time I got to it I was worn out. It just begs to be decorated, but then I would have to do more with the face to compensate, and I thought I’d better leave well enough alone.

I slowed down on this handsome Indian face, starting with light washes and gradually building up. Green worked really well in the shadow shapes. It’s always a bit scary to put that first brushload of green down, but it even works well in a glaze over the warm skin tones.

Portraits on Toned Paper

The Sktchy app keeps feeding my need to explore various media while practicing portrait skills; perhaps for the eventuality of finally being able to do portraits of new people I meet in person. . .unmasked. What a concept!

So here’s the latest, as I draw along with the current #30faces30days artists, only not in pencil, which is what is being encouraged this month. I’m alternating on the gray, black and beige toned papers in the 7″X10″ Nova Trio sketchbook by Stillman And Birn.

pen, watercolor, gouache on gray toned paper
pen, watercolor, white gel pen, w/c pencil

Sometimes I get frustrated enough that I just start grabbing other media and scribbling. I almost gave up on this one, then decided I’d gotten a couple of things right and should be satisfied! Perfection is just so boring anyway. Haha!

I would title this one Medusa, even though it’s a gorgeous guy. He’s also an amazing artist you can see on Sktchy, Derek McClure.

White gouache on black paper

This was another great exercise in negative thinking! meaning applying paint in the exact opposite way one does on white paper. I started the only way I could think, by drawing with a white pencil and then struggled to apply the gouache in a variety of values, but it didn’t exactly cooperate, at least not using my watercolor application methods! But if you overlook the messiness, at least it’s not a boring portrait, and my design brain got a real workout.

A Drawing Duo

We were having some work done on our house, so Andrew and I spent the afternoon in art making in my studio.  

We are both accustomed to sketching each other and being sketched. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a mostly stationary model across a table from me, especially after relying  mostly on pictures for so long.

watercolor and white gouache on gray toned paper

The pose as I constructed it is a bit of commentary on the preoccupation of our culture these days with staying connected on our phones while doing other activities. In fact, he was switching back and forth from the sketchbook to texting with friends and changing the music.

by Andrew Cornelis, black ink on white paper with fine liner pen and brush pen

This was the drawing he was working on while I drew him. Another illustration springing from his prodigious imagination. Note that there is no Procreate or Photoshop used in this, just black ink on white paper. His drawings capture so much about the human experience that it’s easy to recognise parts of yourself in them. You can see more of Andrew’s drawings on Tumblr!