By now you have the knowhow, skills and experience to describe three-dimensional form through mark making, tone and density of line. This was achieved by critical observation of primary sources; the life model, location drawing, and homework exercises, such as self portraits, still life’s etc.
The challenge this week is to bring a sense of 'life' and three-dimensional form to drawings referenced from secondary sources, such as photography.
Elizabeth Peyton, is an excellent of example of an artist who does, just that.
Take a look at her drawings of Keith Richards. How has she achieved this life like quality in her work? She’s used a number of approaches, which we can adopt too, they are;
- Selecting informal portraits and avoiding overly stylised or self-conscious poses.
- Executing her drawings quickly – using lively and expressive mark making.
- Bringing an overall sense economy to the drawing - no over working.
- Working with a limited colour palette.
- Deciding on the direction of the light source. For example; in the Keith Richards portrait the light is traveling from the top righthand corner, creating shadow over the right-side of Richards face.
Select an informal, unself-conscious photograph of the following people ;
- Visually interesting person in a newspaper or magazine (not a famous/well known person – no celebs please!)
- A friend.
- A favorite musician.
- And a black and white photograph of a historic/renowned person photographed sometime between the years 1850 and 1980 – this could be in the fields of art, science, politics, cinema, music etc. you decide !
You'll now have 4 portrait photographs to use as subject matter.
Referring back to Elizabeth Peyton's approaches I outlined earlier, use either charcoal, graphite pencil, or colour pencil to execute the portrait drawings. Before you start, determine where the light source is coming from, is it left right hand-side of the photograph, top or bottom etc. Remember to use expressive and lively marks, and don't overwork the drawing, you'll know when to stop.
So, following time constraints, draw your 4 portraits - use A3 sheets cartridge paper.
- Interesting person from newspaper or magazine - 10 minutes,
- A friend - 20 minutes
- Favorite Musician - 30 mins
- Historic/Renown person - 45 mins.
You will have to draw some of the portraits several times to fully understand and/or make the most of the task.
Helpful Hint – If you're finding it a challenge to bring a sense of form to your drawings, arrange a lamp so it’s the light hits you from the same direction as the photograph your working from, and use the structure/ three dimensional form of your face as a guide to describing areas such as the nose, chin etc.
Or if your drawings are rather 'wooden' and tight, try using the blind drawing approach (not looking at the paper when drawing) Or try working from memory, (looking at the photographs for a couple of minutes, turning them over and then draw from memory. )