Drawing the portrait: week one and two

The portrait class (I told you about it last week) taught by Felicia Forte has been going well. Felicia is a lovely teacher; her classes are low key and she encourages students gently, without condescension or brittleness. Felicia does wonderful charcoal work; her drawings have the most beautiful soft but strong marks. They have an integrity that I’m striving to create in my own work. They hold together, you know?

Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Make fewer lines and make them well. No scritchy-scratchy searching lines. Observe correctly and make confident, correct marks.
  • Draw the big shadow shapes first. Don’t go for detail right away. (And why, oh why, do I have to relearn this repeatedly? Will this ever become something I do automatically? Or will it always be my weak point, my charcoal smudged Achilles’ heel?)
  • Keep the shading simple. Use strokes that all flow in one direction so that blocked in masses don’t become confusing and distracting.
  • Think about design as you work. This is especially true for short poses during which we make four 5-minute drawings, all on the same page. This is probably the hardest lesson for me to learn; it requires not just observation and motor skills, but also really thinking and planning ahead.
  • Draw! The biggest, most important lesson of them all. Draw all the time. Then draw some more. Always  with an active, curious mind.

2 thoughts on “Drawing the portrait: week one and two

  1. Art and poetry: my first loves. I tried majoring in art in college, but because I was a mediocre figure-drawer (oh, heck, I was worse than that—I drew stick-people!), I gave up and went over to words, which were easier for me to draw with. It’s nice to come out of the drawing closet, anyway, okay with being quite nakedly amateurish.

    I love reading about what you are learning—–especially since I see you as a very accomplished and talented artist.

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