Sunday, August 31, 2014

Portrait of Joel in stages



This is a portrait of one of my sons. It was a bit of an experiment as I have been transitioning from using Prismacolor pencils to Faber-Castell Polychromos. The Prismacolors weren't suited to my style and it took me three years of discouragement to finally realise that my technique wasn't the problem. I just needed more suitable materials. It's a relief as the problems I was having were destroying my love of art and my confidence.

I'm really loving the Polychromos. I will write about what I learnt later in the post.

Here are some of the stages of Joel's portrait.


I started with some light shading, rather than laying down the palest colours. This is my original technique which I abandoned to copy more accomplished artists when I first used the Prismacolors. It is a better method for me.


Gradually building up some light detail.


Still not a lot of likeness. The shadows will give more character.


Starting to look like him. Now adding features and building up skin tones.


Starting with the basic form of the hair in a light to mid-tone.


Getting to the really fun stage where the foundation is set and the rest is improvement.


More layers to hopefully add realism and life.


Colour adjustments and finishing off.

Some of the pictures look a bit blue but the paper is actually cream. Joel was squinting at the midday sun so there was a lot of yellow about.

These photos were taken with my iPad. On my to-do list is to find the right light to take accurate and clear photos with my DSLR. Coloured pencil pictures change a lot in intensity with different types of light but, on my screen, the final photo looks quite like the real life version.

I learnt such a lot from doing this picture. There's things I would have done differently - like use a smoother paper (a dumb mistake - I used the wrong side by accident!) and I wouldn't have used the few layers of Prismacolors in the middle stages. Both problems had me experimenting to smooth out the layers in the final stages.

I have full sets of Prismacolors and Derwent Coloursofts (which I quite like) but I am still building up my collection of Polychromos so I was short on colours and supplemented with Prismacolors. The Derwent Coloursofts were useful in adding some pastel-like softness in the later stages. They are quite powdery, whereas Prismacolors are creamy, very blendable and, unfortunately for me, prone to a crayon-like clogging.

I'm now looking forward to putting what I've learnt into practice with the next picture.









Wednesday, August 6, 2014

From my drawing board this week

This is a coloured pencil drawing of my daughter which I finished, a few days ago.

I usually prefer a blue, beige or grey background so this yellow was a bit of an experiment. To me, it seems to overwhelm the subject with its boldness and the delicate shadows were lost in its midst. For someone who likes finely rendered drawings, it felt a bit too noisy for my style.

Fuzzy photo of drawing of fuzzy photo of man with fuzzy beard.

This portrait was finished, today.

It was drawn from an old, nineteenth century photograph. The quality of the photo was typical of the era - high contrast and very little detail in between - so I improvised. Luckily, the features were clear enough to allow for a good enough likeness.

As I drew this picture, I became fascinated by the wild beard and clean-shaven chin. I guess, as far as looks go, this was quite conservative 150 years ago but, to a modern, enlightened connoisseur of fashion, it must seem quite crazy and eccentric.

Apparently, nineteenth-century males eagerly awaited their first signs of facial hair. It appears that a fuzzy demeanour was irrefutable proof of one's manhood. Or, perhaps, a means of covering the scars inflicted by those lethal cut-throat razors in one's youth...

Whatever the reason, I think the beard gives this man an abundance of character. He is unsmiling but not humourless, capable but not proud, authoritative yet not arrogant. Despite his imposing facial decorations, I don't think this man seems imposing, at all. The kindly, intelligent eyes just seem a more obvious focal point when framed by a mass of grey and curly locks.