Tag Archives: portraiture

A Focussed Face

3 Feb


I’m drawing quite a lot of fellow artists as I’m working my way towards 100 sketches of 100 Baby Boomers and this is the third artist who has drawn me right back. It’s quite good fun when it happens. I know that I frown when I’m concentrating and other people sometimes have a ‘focussed face’ too. This artist tended to push her tongue under her lower lip as she drew. I used a mid-grey graphite stick into an A5 spiral bound sketchbook. Some people have asked why I don’t use photos, but the experience of sitting and having conversations with people is an important part of the process. It might result in a less accurate likeness but the drawings are more animated and, in my opinion, more alive and reflect the time we spend together.

A Head. Just A Head.

25 Jun


Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. I concentrated on portraiture this week. I used my Samsung Galaxy Tablet Note 8 with a free Markers app to draw our model. I like working with older models as the faces have more texture and contours which, to be honest, is easier.

Blog A Sprog

19 Jan


I’ve been taking advantage of babysitting family sprogs to carry on practicing drawing heads of children. It was the two-year old’s turn today. I mesmerised him with a DVD of Tractor Tom and scribbled with graphite into my A5 Tate Gallery sketchbook. I had a couple of attempts first before it finally clicked and I’ve ended up with a reasonable likeness and a drawing that I like. I’m very pleased with the flexible and flowing line the graphite has given me.

I tend to fail at portraiture with children because I can’t accept the extreme proportions that are right in front of my eyes but this time I forced myself to pay close attention to what was actually there and forget the nagging voice in my head telling me that the proportions couldn’t possibly be like that. The face is very small and drops away at the bottom of the head, leaving a very large brow. The little ear, so round, is set very far back, the upper lip juts out further than the tip of the nose and the chin falls away completely. And there’s the MASSIVE cheeks (food storage pouches) and huge eyes to contend with. It shoudn’t work but it does. Yes, chuffed with that 😀

Smudgy Finger

23 Oct


Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. I concentrated on portraiture this evening. I used my Samsung Galaxy Tablet Note 8 with the free Markers app and used my finger for this study rather than the stylus. It gives a much softer and smudgier effect. I built the drawing by overlaying tones onto a mid grey background.

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1001 Nights

29 May


Mostly I blog at night and this is my 1001st blog post so I thought it was a neat title. I have just come back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. I concentrated on portraiture this week.

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It’s nice to have a very hairy person to draw and I got very Renaissance in my approach. I drew onto my Samsung Galaxy Tablet Note 8 using the free Markers app. I’m getting used to the function that is responsive to pressure.

Blue Face

16 Feb

16 natieModel, artist and mate Natie popped into Creative Bubble on Saturday and posed for me so I could practice drawing a portrait. I’ve never been a formal portraitist, life drawing is about anatomy for me, not about getting a likeness of the model’s face. But I’m working on an idea for my next biggish exhibition and I need to get better at capturing likenesses. It’s better to practice with a professional model and / or fellow artists because you can come up with all sorts of weird stuff while trying to get to a likeness, and non-professionals can end up getting very insulted.

In this I’m trying to get the components of the face in the right place and familiarise myself with all the bits, so I’m not that bothered about subtlety and finesse. Luckily, Natie didn’t seem to mind. I used chalk and compressed charcoal onto a discarded cyanotype on Bockingford paper that I found in the bin at the print workshop. It’s about 20cm square. It will feed into a larger piece eventually.


Practice and Photobomb!

30 Jan

30 natie 1

I did some portrait drawings this afternoon, working with friend and fellow artist Natie. I’m preparing for a major piece of work later this year and need to bring my portrait drawing up to scratch, so Natie dropped by to help me out and I did some drawings in charcoal and chalk onto newspaper.

30 natie 2

I find portraiture difficult and it takes quite a few drawings before I get an accurate likeness in a style I like. But that’s par for the course. Art is mostly practice in my experience and there are a lot of failures along the way. The first one is not a bad likeness, but nowhere near as pretty as she actually is and I’m not keen on the drawing technique I’ve used. The second is less like her but I prefer the style, it’s more scribbly.

30 natie 3

And here she is, photobombing! The drawing continues, I’m off for the Thursday night life drawing session at Swansea Print Workshop now in a minute. I made a Victoria Sandwich to take along, filled with spiced plum jam.

Finding Inspiration Part 2

12 Jan

Day 2 at the last 15 Hundred Lives art event at the Creative Bubble Artspace in December and I continued to sketch out some of the faces of women murdered in Britain during the year, 199 at the time. Unusually I’m using canvas and some paint, along with oil bars which I worked into the canvas with rags dipped in linseed oil. The idea came from Karen Ingala-Smith’s blog, Counting Dead Women. It’s a harrowing indictment on our society that we still have not come to grips with serious violence to women.


I rarely do portraiture or work from photographs, but I felt inspired to honour these ordinary women, whose lives have been so cruelly snuffed out. The idea behind the events at Creative Bubble is to have the space for a couple of days a month to try out new ideas. I managed to do the sketching and quite a bit of underpainting for four of the women, but a lot of people came into the artspace and wanted to talk about what I was doing. It seemed to engage people far more than the work I’d done in previous months. It took a long time to get to this stage and I haven’t got any further with it as it doesn’t fit in with my business plan, at least for the first part of this year, so the canvasses have been rolled up, waiting for me to come back to them.

An Inky Threesome

23 Jun

23 monotypes

Had a hard day at Swansea Print Workshop today. It was very busy with 6 printmakers working flat out. I was working with Gayle and Chris developing some 3-colour reduction monotypes. I wanted to get in a bit of portraiture practice, working directly from a simple black and white drawing, while the other two wanted to start developing some pieces for the Print Workshop’s themed exhibition later this year on the subject “The Industrial Valley”.

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It’s a long process involving drawing directly onto three separate inked plates, then printing them one on top of the other. You can find out more about the technique on my website here. The process produces one full-colour monotype and a secondary ‘ghost’. We used Intaglio Printmaker’s oil-based pigments in Process Yellow, Red and Blue onto BFK Rives 250gsm paper. I’ve been on my feet all day and now I’m going to slob out in front of the telly!

Drawing With Silver

3 May

Portrait in silverpoint.

I’m very lucky to have been invited to study on an intensive two-day course in Renaissance drawing. Today was day 1 and I did some work in Silverpoint. I’d heard about it and admired reproductions but I’d never seen a Silverpoint tool before. The handle is a smooth barrel of wood like an etching needle but the point is a piece of silver wire, apparently 99% pure. It can be used flat or as a very sharp point, but you have to be accurate because it can’t be rubbed out. It seems that Renaissance artists didn’t use the technique for quick scribbling, it was for careful studies. The paper is coated with a special Silverpoint Medium; I don’t know what’s in the modern one, but back in the day it was supposedly ground bone in some sort of animal glue. Nothing wasted eh?

The drawing room was very full so I moved in close to the model. She wore a wig which had been elaborately plaited – daVinci was particularly fond of drawing plaits. I loved it. It helps that I normally draw directly in ink, without sketching in pencil first, so I had the confidence to get stuck in without worrying too much about accuracy. It’s a small drawing, about A5 onto prepared hand-made paper and took about 20 minutes.  I like the technique so much I might put a Silverpoint tool in my letter to Santa. 🙂

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