All that playing with charcoal paid off when I drew this portrait. It came together nicely.
We draw the same model in the same pose for about 4 20-minutes blocks of time. During the last block of time, Felicia talked about looking at your drawing and taking away what was non-essential. So I stepped back and really looked at my drawing, and used the kneaded eraser to give more form to areas and shape the strong light and highlights.
I’ve been struggling to control my charcoal pencils. I keep making scratchy liney-lines, when what I want is a soft, rich, even tone. So I got out a piece of smooth newsprint and just doodled, trying to gain some control.
I’m not used to this technique. The pencil is whittled (I use a box cutter), stripping away the outer layer of wood, and leaving a slender charcoal twig about an inch and a half long. Then one side of that fragile stick of charcoal is flattened on a sanding block. This gives it a wide surface to make soft tone or expressive line.
But you have to have the right touch, and be in tune with your pencil. I keep losing the flattened edge on my charcoal. Then I have to scruff around in the margins of the paper until I can find that sweet spot again.
I need to do many of these kinds of sheets. Just play with the pencil and exercise my arm and eye.
Week 3 of portrait drawing class and I am still struggling with the materials of charcoal on newsprint. I’m also tusseling with drawing the features, particularly the eyes. Eyes are the hardest feature for me to put down correctly.
I think it’s because we see each eye as an individual element, when really, they are part of the same feature. Yes, there are two eyes, but they are connected by the brow line (you know, as in “the artist’s furrowed brow”). But grrr, making that connection in a drawing always stumps me.
Felicia recommended looking for the rhythms of the face: how the features are connected by arcs and circles. And that was my “aha!” moment for the night.
I know that progress on this point will come slowly, but now I know it will come.