Thursday, March 05, 2015

Demo for my Unique Approach to Drawing the Portrait

I have been preparing a number of teaching instructionals for online, Artist Network University (ANU) and my own Gumroad page...feeling now that I have retired from the physical art teaching classroom, there are instructions from over the years I believe would be useful for others.  No need to carry such to the dust behind me...and then, having done so, will be free (in spirit and mind) to focus on my whim and muse...

This whimsical self portrait is one of five supplemental videos for a four week course we will be offering for ANU...the first video a 78 minute breaking down of my method, at the easel with newsprint and drawing crayons.  "Unique"...because my system begins with the eyes as a unit of measure, and works from inside out.  This is in no way a suggestion other methods are inferior, or this is the best, but it has proven the best way for how I work...and best for my students I've worked with. It helps from the get go...for the eye to see those unique distinctions of the portrait that stand out and poignantly put down what makes the effort succeed early on.

For the caricaturist, the method is an invaluable means to see what features to expound and run with...and for the serious portraitist, having knowledge of such allows key check points for accuracy and confidence in the portrait's development.

For this particular drawing, line hatching and cross hatching, traditional approaches in rendering with pencil, pen, carbon and so forth..was used, but done so drawing on a Wacom Intous 4 digital tablet and Creative Suite 5.5 (Photoshop)

No photo manipulation (which everyone immediately suspects, because such indeed is the practice of some), no filters, and drawing on a single layer as if on a single piece of paper.  

The wireless stylus is set up to be pressure sensitive, that is..I press harder, I get a harder mark...and in addition of course you can set opacity and flow.  Advantages are being able to zoom in close to your work, and zoom back to see from some distance how the work appears.  The other of course, for the working you can submit your sketches to the art director (magazine article or cover work for example) simply saving as a jpg and attach to email.

Old school requires living in close proximity so that you drive over, show...get instructions go back to your studio and fix. Then the issue of submitting by deadline.  So for working hands on traditional artists, digital painting/drawing is one more tool worth developing to compete, as deadlines are the order of the day and always have been commercially.

The course is NOT a digital drawing course, though I explain quite a bit in this particular demonstration.   I have demonstrated use of Wolff carbon pencils, going over with a bit of water and soft synthetic round smaller brush to convert to washes of values.  The use of the Bic black ink ballpoint pen...and so forth.  More importantly...the course is about my setting up and proceeding with the eye as the unit of measure.  Showing the value of having a "standard" that is a generalization I gleaned from reading Leonardo DaVinci's sketchbooks back in the seventies (which is how long I've taught this).  DaVinci believing order existed in the universe and working mathematics and ratios into near everything.  As inventor, naturalist, science, artist/painter...

I had a light bulb the eye can create a standard.  Not to "force" everyone's portrait into the standard, but by committing it to memory...seeing immediately what features a person's face has that is outside that standard.  Such features are the distinctions nailed that speak "you got it!"

So...I have a power point to finish...a short video to create on foreshortening and the quartering pose...then a matter of announcing when the four week course will be available.

The course is four weeks long, very much like my Foundations in Plein Air ANU course...which deals with the mid values crisis so many artists struggle with (knowingly or unknowingly).  The course is online...the materials, videos are downloaded week by week, setting up the assignments for that week.  At the end of each week, I will give each participant a personal one on one critique.  I often use my digital table to show how to adjust, where things need some attention.

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