First of all thanks to the SktchyMuseum app participants who provide their inspired poses for us to draw! I’ve tried to include their names, though sometimes I think they post a picture of someone else that they took. I try different approaches to drawing/painting each one I do, which will be abundantly obvious here. Some are very quick sketches, others take longer, and none are really “finished”, because then I’m sure I would mess them up!
I just felt I owed myself a good watercolor surface to do some wet play on, so I switched to the Fluid watercolor paper which I love and kept it loose and wet, bleeding off edges across lines and charging more pigment into spots before the surface dried.
You can see the difference here as I went back to the Nova toned paper, which is not really made for those wet watercolor washes. The pigment settles in quickly and creates edges, just a different look.
Here I’m hardly focused at all on the surface textures, but trying out the idea of a quirky, unfinished or “vignetted” portrait.
And here’s another take on the unfinished theme, less aggressive and jarring.
Another unfinished one, more along the lines I’d imagined. The gray paper read as white, so I didn’t add any, and the ink made the most lovely wash on this paper, probably because I told myself not to muck with it, haha!
So if you have a minute I would love to know what is your favorite and which if any gives you the creeps or any other response. All reactions valid and welcome.
I thought it might be interesting to contemplate and document my loopy and sometimes treacherous path of art discovery in the area of portraiture and figura-ture over the past month. Discovery as in experimentation.
Starting with this one a month ago. I remember starting out with the idea that this would be a quick and expressive sketch. An hour later I was still correcting and laying in more layers of paint, which wasn’t at all what I had in mind when I started. I think I was distracted by the handsome fellow in the picture. Reminder to self: whether it’s a landscape or building or figure, don’t become too enamored with the visual subject matter.
After a break traveling and sketching scenery I resumed sketching portraits, mainly with the aim of discovering the personality of my own line making. I found that this is a lot more fun than trying to make a pleasing picture. I’ve never been partial to colored pencils, since watercolor is so much more fluid and immediately saturated. But since I’m not used to colored pencils there was more freedom expressed without the need to “get it right”.
So I turned the former sketch over, a loose sheet of unidentified paper I found in my drawer, and told myself I could just throw it away, so anything goes. And plunged in. Again, fun. I’d tapped into the secret I’d known and taught for years.
Reminds me of the paperweight I was given years ago on which is written “What would you attempt to do if you could not fail?” In this case, I could not fail because I wouldn’t ever have to show it to anyone. Then I realized that showing it to others would never result in failing either, because who cares!
So I go back to my toned paper sketchbook with more confidence in my ink line making, which is crude and scratchy in a way I am liking, and I realize that the shadow shapes in this subject are so fabulous that I can play with watercolor, running one color into another wetly. Soon I can’t stop painting, but at least I don’t hang out too long trying to make it “right”, so maybe I’m learning something.
So what the heck, now I figure I’m ready for a selfie, to celebrate my allowing the gray/white hair I’ve been coloring to emerge and help define the freedom of my senior status. Those of you who know me will say, oh that doesn’t look like you Susan, and in a way you’re right, but she’s there somewhere. . .and not least of all in the scratchy lines.
Next day I did this one of another older lady. Same materials and half the time. If I were smart and not so distractible, I’d do 10 more.
Instead I did just one more in the 15 minutes I had before the call to dinner. I think I used the Lamy Joy pen. Why in heaven’s name I sketched the pipe first I don’t know, except that I liked the shape and wanted to make sure to fit it in. But as you can see, the nose fit into it better than the mouth. So, big deal, I drew another pipe stem and made it darker. Problem solved. There was no time to add the white value with the gouache. and I don’t miss it at all in this one.
All of the portraits above, except for the selfie, were drawn from the excellent photos available for this purpose on the SktchyMuseum app I’ve been using. Gratitude for all these fine poses! Can’t imagine a better resource for us portrait artists. Check it out!
I’ll finish this post with some practice drawings, copied from the Spanish illustrator Inma Serrano, whose workshop I’m taking: Capture Your City in Motion.
And here I’m sketching from picture of figures in motion on internet sites like Pinterest. All warmups for the real thing of capturing the action live. Gulp.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-looksright 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Using lots of pen lines here made it possible for the watercolor to go on in a less self conscious way.
Back to a pencil drawing the next day! The alternation of materials is more entertaining for my restless mind.
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.
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!
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?
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.
Rick N. is another favorite on the Museum app, willing to offer his visage in the creation of characters like this ? mad magician?
No background or hair or clothing needed here! It was done in minutes. Brilliant pose Roxana!
By this day I was ready to take my time and try for a bit more refinement.
This one got a bit out of hand very quickly, drawing with the brush pen!
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.
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.
Just give me a space to paint and
I’ll find a way
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. . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!