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"

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