Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jordy - Drawing Eyes

As a teenager, I remember being told that the vocations of motherhood and serious artist are pretty much mutually exclusive. But, being passionate about my art and, also, of an equally passionate maternal disposition, this notion didn't sit well with me. However, after twenty years of motherhood, I have to admit that there is some truth to this, after all. With a nearly two-year-old to nurture and seven other children still at home, my drawings have to fit around the needs of the family, and progress can sometimes be positively snail-paced. This has meant that I have been unable to take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to me, as an artist, and, being unwilling to abandon my passion completely, I plod along with slow, but sure and steady, progress, satisfying my own deep creative desires and attempting to combine my love for my family and my love for art in such a way as to neglect neither, but to tend to both, in the most happy realisation of their individual potentials.

This may be the reason why I am enjoying this portrait of my youngest son so much. I love bringing his little face to life on paper and I, also, have the luxury on working on a project, out of pure love for both my subject and my art. There is no pressure to meet any outside expectations and I can proceed at a pace which suits the needs of all my little ones.

Having said that, it should come as no surprise to find that I am still at a very early stage in this picture.

I have started with the eyes, which is something I am doing more and more rarely. It makes sense to lay down the initial washes for the skin first because the eyes can only be taken to a certain point before the skin of the eyelids, etc, must be incorporated into the surrounding areas. I, also, don't like to put undue emphasis on any one feature or part of the face, as I find that the whole must be taken together to avoid an imbalance and to keep the relationship between the different parts in harmony. However, I was itching to start on these sweet eyes so I began with the eyeballs, and, then, applied the washes when it became time to work on the skin around the eyes.

At this stage, the eyeballs still need defining shadows and some tweaking, but the colour of the irises has been laid down. The irises are exciting to render. A combination of scribbles, hazy blending, sharp highlights and soft, dewy tones will result in an element of realism. It is important to recognise the shadow which the upper eyelid and the eyelashes impose upon the eyeball, as to omit this simple stage will destroy all realism.

Also, note that the white of the eye is never just white. It may look grey, pale blue, beige or a combination of several colours. It may, also, reflect the colour of the skin and appear pinkish. When applying colour to the whites of the eye, it is necessary to be aware of the roundness of the eyeball and to shadow the contours accordingly.

Take note, too, of the inner and outers corners of the eye. The inner corner often has a moist highlight and is usually a darker pink than the surrounding skin. The outer corner is often shadowed by the brown of the eyelashes, before turning to the pink colour of the lower lid. Where the upper lid shadows the eyeball, the lower lid usually reflects the light that falls upon it from above. At the point where the iris meets the lower lid, there is often a mergence of reflected colour.

Because the centre of the eye is closer to the viewer, due to the contours of its form, it is often shadowed less than the corners, so I use a lighter touch here. The corners of the eye, by contrast, are more shadowed, so I use darker tones and, often, a heavier pressure.

Here the basic form of the eyeballs as been applied.
I have begun, now, to lay down the greys, blues and violets of the irises.
The pupils have been rendered, using pure black and a heavy pressure. More grey and a little black has been applied to the irises. The eyelids have been marked with a pink pencil and the whites of the eyes have been rendered using pale blue, violet and peach.

The deepest tones need to be intensified and highlights will be lifted, using a putty rubber and Blutak. The rendering of the shadows will add much to the realism and the careful rendering of the eyelids and eyebrows will be invaluable to the successful depiction of the character of the subject.

I am at an exciting stage. Next time, I hope to show you more of this little guy's personality, as I work on the defining features of his impish face. In the meantime, it's back to my labour of love!


  1. Thanks for explaining this in detail, Vicky. It's really far more complicated than the rest of us think, isn't it? I like when you share the "inside scoop" with us though!

  2. Thank you, Mary. I think it's just about observation. You get into the habit of noticing things like details, colours and light effects, etc. When you learn to 'see', the rest is easy!

    When are you going to show some of your work, Mary? I'd love to see your pictures:)

  3. Uhm...never? Lol! Just kidding! Eventually I will as long as you promise not to laugh! (A slight giggle would be acceptable though ;)

  4. Oh, I'm sure I wouldn't even be tempted to laugh, Mary! I'm trying now to imagine your style and I'm thinking that, given what I know of your personality, it would be anything but boring:)

  5. Beautiful work!

    As an artist myself, I understand your plight completely. My children are so worth putting my art down the list of priorities. :)

    thank you for the insights.

  6. Thank you, Tereza, for your encouragement:)

    Yes, we do have to prioritise when we have children, don't we?

    I haven't done much art, lately, because I've been concentrating on the family and home but I am itching to get back to it! I'm hoping to start posting here, again, soon.

    God bless:)


Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Vicky