17 September 2015

Drawing a Portrait from the Inside Out

As an art student, I learned to draw the head from the 'outside in'. Lay in the large contours of the head/hair/neck shapes, overlay with marks to indicate the general positions of the features, then proceed to the details.  It's a classic way to draw a head, taught in many workshops and ateliers.  A good method for beginners, too.

Another, very different approach is the 'inside out' method.  Many artists use this method, including Richard Schmid and his former student Scott Burdick.  I'm a big fan of Scotts' work.  His video  "Secrets of Drawing", was my inspiration for todays' drawing.

I used willow charcoal and white chalk on Strathmore 400 toned paper, from a reference photo I shot.  Going from the inside to the outside, I started with the focal left eye, proceed to the right eye, the nose, the mouth and then out to the general head shape.  Following, I added the planes of the head, separated into the light and dark sides.  Once I had the big value map working, I just proceeded from large to small shapes, as Scott describes in his video.  The approach is fun...very intuitive.  And I think it's wise to occasionally swap out standard procedures for something new.  It keeps things fresh and interesting.

Valor Hsiao, charcoal and chalk on paper, 9x13"

Valors' portrait  shows the visual qualities I am striving for in my mark making.  More expressive than an earlier portrait drawing I did (below) of Nicholas Milligan, using the outside-in method.  It was the best I could do at the time, but I am happy with this new direction.

Nicholas Milligan, charcoal and chalk on paper, 9x12"

05 September 2015

End of Summer

My daughter, and only child, Amanda just moved away. Family is one thing more important to me than my art, so I took a break to enjoy the summer with her.  I'm glad I did, we had a great couple of months.  But she's gone now, and I'm ready to get back to the easel.  Thank you for your patience.

Wedding Day, 8x10" oil on board

Today's painting is a wedding anniversary gift.  Painted from a poor quality reference photo, which actually allowed me to do some inventing.  That was fun.  I tried to keep the brushwork loose.  The only hard part was the grooms' face...an odd, foreshortened profile.  I could have kept refining the painting, but I'm sure that would have ruined it.  So I quit while I was ahead.

The painting is small.  The heads are only about 1.5" which made them harder to paint.  For that reason, I did a pencil sketch first, sealed with fixative, then a raw umber underpainting, followed by the color layer. 

Here is a detailed view.

And finally, the framed image...


03 June 2015

New Portrait Painting: Baby Valor

This is a baby shower gift.  The subject is Valor, a 3-month-old boy.  I'm happy to finish this one and move on.  I found it difficult to paint this little guy due to his lack of personality and character.   Before starting, I took a quick look around for other examples of infant portraits.  There are very few out there.  Makes me think I'm not the first to feel this way. 

Portrait of Valor, 8x8", oil on board

One problem with this painting is that light triangular shape formed by the blanket just behind his far cheek.  It seems to pop out too much.  If I cover that area, I think the image looks better.  Maybe after it settles for a while I will get back in there and change that.  For now, I need to move on to other things.