I recently hung up this large piece, about 3.5 feet by 1.5 feet, which consists of painted small illustration board squares with drawings on mulberry paper glued to them. Then I glued them in a line, joined by string, to a painted black framed wooden board. Quite the complicated mixed-media thing in the end. I’d like to share one of the squares today. It’s only maybe 4 inches by 4 inches.
I thought I’d share this work in progress, since I haven’t done anything in colored pencil in years. I started with the figure on the left and worked very tightly, but as you can see, I returned more to my “own” style with the face on the right. In the end I’m happier with the right-hand side. I hope to finish this up with colored pencil, ink, and watercolor.
This is a fairly large piece (like 14″x17″) and I haven’t taken a proper photo of it, so here’s a screenshot of the Instagram pic I posted. Jeez. Can I get my act together?
The piece is in conte crayon, graphite, and brush pen; it is copied from a photo in a catalog, where I get most of my art references from, much to some people’s amusement. This didn’t come out exactly as I’d hoped, but the guy certainly looks even more brooding in my drawing than he did for H&M, even if his face is a little lopsided. A quick practice, overall.
This started out looking like someone I know, so I decided to start throwing in elements of other people I know as well. I did this thematically and not just visually, so that explains (right.) the bones.
I had fun making this. There’s a lot written about the meaning and pleasure of “mark-making” which can be hard to get used to — it means you’re not interested in the product, just with the act of making. It’s harder than you think to separate yourself from the “quality” or beauty of your end-product and just live in the process.
This is the “latest” (many years old) out of a series of 50 faces I was trying to make. Perhaps I’ll explain it fully one day, but although it’s rather morbid, it has a lot of personal meaning for me. My goal was 50 but I only got to 8. I made many of these when I last lived in Japan, in the northern part of Tokyo. Here’s one of my favorites that despite trying to make look dead, looks frighteningly alive.
Here’s an example today of a piece that took a wrong turn. I loved the initial sketch, even though it was not where I’d intended to go at all. (I was working on a series “50 dead faces” and this is most certainly a bright and living and happy face.)
Then what happened? I went at it with charcoal and a marker, and more pencil, and ended up overworking – the worst. Well, it turned out ok, but just ok. I was more pleased with the initial drawing, although that itself was unfinished and had to be completed into something. Can’t win!
Here’s a process post. I started out with a sketch that was supposed to be part of another series I’m working on (“dead faces” – 50 of them – I’ll explain in the future) but it took on a life of its own. Specifically, I thought it looked a bit like a noh mask.
So I wasn’t sure if I should leave it as-is, not touch it, let it be just in this form. It didn’t seem finished, but I didn’t want to ruin or overwork it. Then I hit on an idea: ink! It turns out I barely had to use any, because the charcoal I did the sketch with reacted so well with the water, but I did it a little. Here’s the result, which I’m extremely happy with.
I’ve done a lot of figure drawing for a really long time – over 15 years at this point. The key, in my opinion is strict observation. By this, I mean looking at the figure as you’re drawing, rather than looking back and forth too much. I almost always start with a contour, although I’d like to branch out into mass and gesture more than I currently do at some point, for the challenge and variety.
My method is to begin with contour strictly observed from the figure and often a little “off,” but more true to what’s actually there than a meticulous start. You can easily get off proportion if you spend too much time putting details in the face or torso before getting to the legs. It’s better to get a rough idea of the shapes first, then go in and start adding basic detail like large blocks of shadow, and finally some selective smaller details. I often am working at a time limit of maximum 15 minutes, so I really have to prioritize which details I put in. I try to think of what’s most significant and most representative — what will allow me to convey what’s there in the fewest lines or shapes possible? It’s better, I think, to imply what’s there than put in every detail — leave some of it up to the viewer to infer and put together.
This is a figure drawing from a 2013 art class on watercolor and mixed media, done in ink and white gouache. The ink is obviously both pen and brush. I started first of all with a pencil, but sometimes on other drawings I do the contour in a Sharpie marker so I force myself to observe carefully from the very beginning rather than depending on being able to make corrections later. It’s both restrictive and freeing.
I also appreciated the shape of the model in this session. People who model tend to be, while usually not perfect (I did run into a guy whose email was greekgod@ before though), smaller. This model was a completely different kind of person from what I am used to working with and it was a delight.
A girl I drew with a pen that has a brush end. It’s 10×14 or so in real life, so I had to photograph it and it got all gray. I filled in the background with white and then ended up liking the effect, so I have left it this way. I drew this without a reference and was pleasantly surprised with the result.