Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Life Drawing Session with Friends

Nothing like getting together in a living room warmed by a fireplace on a blustery November day to set up some easels, drop some tarps, and scribble with charcoal on newsprint in an attempt to learn how to capture a reasonable likeness of a human being on paper.

I had a lovely time today at some friends' house.  Jack volunteered to model while he workshopped some poetry.  Julie and I practiced seeing shapes of tones and trying not to draw too many lines.

Easier said than done.  At least for me...

In this first one, things went pretty well.  I forced myself not to see my friend, or even a human being (at least at first) but just chunks of very dark and very light.  Then I added more midtones, and at the end, some lines to clarify.

I liked this a lot, though, as usual, I got the head too big for the body.  I guess that's a common mistake, since we look at each other's faces so much, we tend to understand them as bigger than they are.  Yet another lesson in trying to see more clearly.

So for the next sketch, I scribbled very fast, less than three minutes, and tried to capture proportion more accurately.  I spent a lot of that three minutes measuring.

 It was fun to compare the size of his head to the size of the foot that was much closer to me!

Next I wanted to try the shapes of tones approach to more of a portrait.

I'm quite pleased with how the shirt came out.  Not so pleased with the face.  My friend has a white beard, and I just didn't do a good job of capturing that tone or texture.

Finally, I got tired of charcoal (even though I really like the way it looks) and switched to a big fat stick of 6B graphite.

By this time my patient model had fallen asleep.  After all, we'd had the poor guy sitting there for nearly an hour.

For me, this last one was all about capturing the shapes and shadows of the tilted head.  You simply can't let your brain think "face" or "chin" or "eyes" when you try to draw something at this angle.  I mean, nothing looks like it is "supposed" to on a face when a head is tilted backward like this.

I appreciated that the graphite made much less of a mess than the charcoal, but the darks never got quite as dark as I'd hoped.

So this was my first ever "hey, friend, will you sit and be my model" scribbling session!  I think it went pretty well.  My fellow sketcher and I were both pooped after an hour of drawing.  The model got some work done, and a nap to boot.  When we quit the art work, we all had a donut.

Life is good.

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