Thursday, September 13, 2012

Two Portraits: One Model

I've been drawing Kristy for several weeks now with only modest success.  There have been too many false starts and poor finishes - all very frustrating! The warm toned work below, a partial exception in that bad run, was done weeks ago.

I finally settled down last week and made this decent drawing in blue Prismacolor pencil on grey Canson pastel paper. (The Prismaclor / Canson is a comfortable combination I often use) You can see considerable difference in technique between the two pieces. The one in blue is quite linear, the second on gold somewhat more sketchy as I worked lightly, constantly correcting. There I used some hatching and soft white hi-lites to show 3-dimensional form.  On the grey paper I drew with contour line, following each edge individually, concentrating only on the line as I drew it with few corrections.

I was introduced to contour drawing many years ago in the Kimon Nicolaides book "The Natural Way to Draw" published in 1941. It was out of print for many years but I see it is available again. While it is a bit dated in style this is arguably the best how-to-draw course ever put in print. He says it is a "How to Learn to Draw" book.  I believe it really should have been titled "How to See" as that is the thrust of every exercise.  I recommend it!

In contour drawing Nicolaides  allows  few corrections and no erasures, a rule you know I recommend.  Any correction has to be a new line, leaving the old one as an artifact.  Actually, Prismacolor does not erase well anyway, it really smudges! Sometimes it is possible to minimize an error by carefully working over the errant line with white. I believe I did a bit of that on the left hand above but for Pete's sake don't tell Kimon!

BTW, I don't know if I've mentioned this in the past but I usually work on the back side of this paper. The front has considerable tooth - fine for pastel but much too rough for pencil, - at least as I use it.

Now that I see the two portraits together on the same page, the model seems to have shed a pound or two in between times. I suppose it could be my inconsistant drawing quality or the fact that I was looking up at her as she sat straight on a high stool, but I'm not about to admit that!  No, she gets all the credit!  BTW, there in the warm tone drawing she's not waving her hand around or wiggling her fingers. As a good model she's always able to hold a pose for long minutes.  That was just my fumbled attempt to draw her fingers as I ran out of time to work that day. No doubt I'd had at least one false start that session too.

I think it helpful when looking at reproductions to be aware of original dimensions but I've been forgetting lately to note sizes.   The blue figure's height is 13 inches with some minor clipping because of my 9x12 scanner. The older, gold drawing is smaller at 8 inches high.

"What is art but a way of seeing?  Thomas Berger

"Focus and time limits, works for me."  Liz Reday

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