Moving Forward

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to start focusing on drawing faces or portraits. I have two courses as resources for learning plus all the free videos on YouTube. I decided to start with Fabulous Faces course by Tamara Laporte. You can find it here under her art classes. This is my version of the first week’s front facing portrait.

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This lesson did not use a reference photo and was focused on proportions and placement of facial features it is not meant to be a realistic drawing. Her instructions also focused on shading. What I loved most about this lesson was learning how to use layering to add depth to the shadows instead of pressure on the pencil to darken the lines. Her explanation of how using pressure can cause distortion in the paper making it difficult to erase or even to blend out helped a lot on learning how to apply her technique. I feel it has improved my ability to create contours in the face.

I then decided to use a reference photo to practice the shading techniques I learned from Fabulous Faces Week 1 class. This is the reference photo I chose from online when I searched for front facing women’s pictures. I liked this one because it gave more contrast for the shadows and showed clear highlights.

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This is the result of my second sketch. When looking at my drawing I couldn’t see the wonkiness in the eyes (the eye on the right is slightly lower than the one on the left). It wasn’t until I took a picture that I saw it. I tried fixing it but I lost something in it when I did. The thing I like about this drawing is how my shading is improving. I was using a mechanical pencil when I drew this but by the end I realized I need to use better graphite pencils which I do have just didn’t use them for this drawing or the previous one.

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I have another course called Let’s Face It, you can find it here. I purchased Kara Bullock’s “Let’s Face It 2016 – Kara Only” classes since it provides instruction for front face, 3/4 face, profile, bust and up portraits, and also the figure. I am on the first lesson and the first exercise is to do a drawing or painting from a reference photo to see where your skill level is right now. This is to help track your growth as you progress through the classes. I decided to draw another face using the same reference photo. This is the result using a better set of drawing pencils. I can definitely see a difference between this drawing and the previous one when I used a mechanical pencil.

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I know faces are not exactly symmetrical but again the eyes are off, though better aligned, one eye is larger than the other. I say this as a constructive criticism. I do this so I know what to work on for improvement. In the first drawing where they were wonky, I realized I didn’t see it because of the way I sit and draw and how I hold my sketchbook. I hold my book at an angle like I was taught to place a piece of paper when I’m writing. I’m learning that when I do this when drawing, it is difficult to see when something isn’t in its proper alignment. Tonight when I drew the last sketch I made a point of holding my sketchbook straight (not on an angle). This helped a lot with getting the eyes aligned properly.

I need to work on the hair more, however, that will come later. My main goal with this last drawing was to get alignment and proportions more accurate. I printed up a copy of the reference photo and glued it to the opposite page in the journal I am using. This helped a lot . Not only did it help to have the reference photo right there but with it sized to fit the page, it helped with working out the proportions and placement.IMG_0953I’m considering my drawings complete at this point. Mainly because if I messed with them any more I know one of two things could occur. I will either become frustrated because my perfectionist would come out of the closet and start nagging me about how it doesn’t look right and isn’t perfect which could put me off of drawing for several weeks if not longer. Or I could screw up something which I feel is pretty good at this stage of my artistic development. Since this will be used as a reference for my growth, it shows clearly that I’m not skilled with hair yet and though I’m fairly good with placement and proportions I still have a ways to go for realistic portraits. So this is a good drawing to use for this purpose.

I have learned several things from this exercise.

  1. Take pictures along the way as I’m drawing to help me see anything that might be out of kilter or needs adjustment. Taking a picture helps me to see things more clearly quicker than it would setting it aside and looking at it later.
  2. Be kind when I’m looking at what I have created. It is okay to point out to myself the things which I need improvement on but above all else give myself credit for how much I have improved.
  3. Using pencils, meant for drawing, work a lot better than mechanical pencils or pencils meant for writing.
  4. Greater dimension and depth can be achieved with drawing pencils using light layers than pressing firmly with one pass or two passes.
  5. I have also found I like using a blending stump or tortillion better and a kneaded eraser than my “fat” fingertip (“fat” only to describe how much larger the tip of finger is when compared to the tip of a fine point tortillion).
  6. Paper has a big influence on the feel and look of a sketch. There is an obvious difference between the two drawings I did from the reference photo. The first was drawn on very smooth paper and the second was drawn on a heavier and more textured paper.

I may continue to use the same photo for a while but that depends on the next lessons in the two courses I mentioned here. I plan on doing both classes in tandem. I think it will be interesting to switch from a more whimsical style that Tam does, to the more realistic style that Kara does. I naturally tend to draw realistically however I love learning how to create something completely from my imagination.

It can be rather daunting to step out of my comfort zone to draw a face. All too often I hear my inner critic tell me it is too complicated… faces are too difficult… I’ll never get it right… it will never look like the person or photo I’m drawing… and if I let the voice continue… and I let myself believe what it is telling me… it will hold me back from picking up the pencil or making any marks on the paper, or it could cause me to quit in the middle of what I’m creating because it isn’t exactly like the person or image I’m drawing.

However…

If I ignore the voice, or better yet, if I allow myself to hear the voice, acknowledge what lies beneath the words, I usually can move forward with my drawings. Most times as I move forward and progress into what I’m creating, see how it is developing, it can quiet the voice. Because, I know I still have areas to improve, that voice will still be there letting me know where those improvements are needed but another voice becomes louder. That new voice often says things like… see, I can do it… yes, it isn’t perfect but look at the eyes, look at the shading, look at how realistic it appears or how much I’ve improved in a month or a couple months… and so on.

This is my journey and I am loving it.

Catching up….

I’ve been absent for a while and I apologize. I could say it has been a rather crazy time, however, that would mostly be in my head. I have been learning everything I can in regards to mixed media art and avoiding everything else in life that is possible to avoid.

Why?

I just don’t want to look at it right now. Too much of it is sad, worrisome, and in some cases scary. I won’t go into the details, just know, my art endeavors are keeping me sane.

In October I focused on Inktober. In November, I started Christy Sobolewski’s “30 Pages” class videos she has on YouTube. I completed them by Christmas. Here are a few pictures:

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The page on the left is my favorite. It is page 4 of Christy’s class.  I love everything about this page and would love to do something like this on a larger page for framing.

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This was fun, page 8, she used collage from a magazine. I chose to use copies of my own artwork for the collage. It shows some progress in my faces.

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Page 18, on the left. She is actually a tip-in. So far the best face I’ve done.

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Just so you can see, she actually is a tip-in, the left side is the view of the page behind her.

These are my Inktober drawings:

When I first started Inktober I had no idea what to draw each day. The first day’s drawing didn’t come out anywhere near what I had hoped. The second day was a bit better but still left me wondering what I would do next. The third day I decided to draw a mandala and before I completed it I knew my theme from then on would be mandalas. I thoroughly love drawing mandalas. In fact, as I work on different class projects, while I’m waiting for things to dry or have some extra time, I work on another mandala. I’m building up quite a stash of them. Most of them are in black and white, a very few I have colored, and even less I’ve used colored card stock or art paper, instead of the white or cream.

I was also working on Willowing.org’s class “Art, Heart, and Healing” by Tam.  Her approach to art is more on the whimsical side. While Christy’s isn’t quite whimsical, her style also isn’t realistic, at least in her art journaling. Both gave me plenty to experiment with.

When I was younger, much younger, as a child and a teen, I received no artistic encouragement, even though there was plenty of talent in my family. It wasn’t until 8th grade, I learned I could actually draw something realistically. That first drawing was of a baby horse, a colt. My art teacher who was my only art teacher from 8th grade until I graduated high school, saw my talent and subtly encouraged me, keeping a few of my best pieces. I was thrilled when he asked to keep them and I gladly agreed. I have no idea to this day how he used them or what he did with them. It still gives me a good feeling to know he wanted them and encouraged me to pursue art as a career.

I didn’t follow his advice. Outside of school, I was too afraid to pick up a pencil and give my skill a test run. Every time I tried, the pencil would be put back down before even a small portion of the drawing developed and not picked up again for months if not years. My inner critic was too loud and hell bent on being a perfectionist. I was also determined to create realistic drawings and frustrated when nothing came out even close or at least perfect enough for my critical eye.

I’m a great deal older now, maybe not wiser, but definitely having experienced enough in life to know there are more important things in life than to be hung up on something not being perfect. Especially, when it means not enjoying something I love to do.

I wanted freedom, emotional freedom, to express myself in my art. I am getting there, but how I got here was a hard and difficult journey. I want to be able to do what I love, so here I am. Doing just that. Imperfections and all.

I started writing this post several weeks ago, set it aside for a while and just today have come back to it to see if I could complete it and post it. I had to update it a bit because I’ve finished much of what I said I was working on and have started new projects.

I started Life Book 2017. I thought I would have problems getting the work done each week, interestingly, instead, I find myself with time to spare and waiting for the next lesson. One of the bonus classes is something I can continually add to. I can use this to help fill in while I’m waiting.

I’ve been working on 21 Secret’s Techniques and Tools class, taking my time as I work through it, so I work one in now and then during my wait.

I also found Documented Life Project online, but with things as they are, I chose not to spend money on the current offering and found 2015’s is free, so I’m following 2015’s prompts for 2017 and aligning the weeks as best I can. I’m still working out whether I’ll do it like a planner or just an Art Journal. It may end up a mixture of both.

As if those three weren’t enough I’ve been looking for other projects to do. I came  across Jennebellie’s Monthly Challenge Group, so I may work those in once in a while. They are an option when I’m feeling the need to fill in gaps of time. She has a list of the challenges all the way back to 2014.

The past few days I’ve been in research mode. I don’t like working in fixed bound books. Also, I’m not crazy about the coil or wired type bound journals or art books because of the holes in the pages even though I can take them apart and work on the pages separately. I love working on loose leaf paper which gives me the flexibility to choose different size as well as different paper type, however, it leaves me with the dilemma of how to store them. If I bind them afterwards into a book, that means either holes in my pages or fixing them to a backing of sorts that can then be bound. I don’t like the idea of either of those.

I started looking into portfolio options. I’m thinking about creating portfolios which would contain my pages for each of my projects. There are different options. I could use cardboard to create the portfolio which would be similar to the elastic bound folders you find in office supplies but it would unfold completely to lay flat when I want to flip through my pages. Another option would be to make a box. The book boxes could be an option where I make different sizes for the different size paper I use but that would mean my pages might not be sorted by project. My logical mind rebels at that idea. I’m still sorting this all out.

I still have work on this site I need to do. I won’t go into what right now, just know I have more plans for it than just a place to blog.  I need to get off my duff and do it.

One thing is for sure, I’ll never be short on something to do.

~Patti