Portrait Drawing of Michelle - 9th February 2006
Art is a funny thing. You can work for a while, making what seems to be very slow progress, if any at all, and then every now and again all the strands seem to come together at once and you make a small leap forward. The last time that happened to me was when I did the carrots and squash painting, I have a feeling its happened again here.
I seem to have improved in a few different ways with this one:
- The proportions of the drawing, as a whole, are better. This is partly down to better observation I think, and perhaps also because I re-introduced some measuring into this drawing. I took relatively few measurements, just anchor points really. I measured horizontally from the bridge of the nose to the back of the cloth that wraps her hair, horizontally from the bridge of her nose to back of her ear, vertically from her eye line to the bottom of her chin and vertically from the bottom of her ear to the crook of her left arm. That seemed to be enough for me to trust my eye for everything else.
- The drawing is simpler, its not overworked. Its so easy with drawing to try to put in everything your eye can see, but that's a mistake. The subject needs to be simplified down to the essential elements needed to describe the form as its defined by the light falling on it. I can see an improvement in the simplicity of the drawing here. I'm convinced that my quick-fire cafe sketches, although I've only done two sets, have greatly improved my ability to simplify. I see much more blank paper inside the forms on this drawing, where usually I would try to put in too much modelling of tone and thereby over-work it.
- The likeness. This one is a real can of worms, but I think I've caught something about Michelle here. I'll have to wait and see what friends think, but Michelle thinks its a good likeness too. She's a bit put out that she looks so scruffy (she says,) but I think that's part of the charm. She'd just got out of the bath which is why she's got her hair wrapped up (nice for me because I could see more of the form of her head and face,) we'd just finished our dinner and she was sitting watching a DVD on her laptop. I drew her sitting across from her at the kitchen table, and I think something of the intimacy of the moment comes across in the drawing, at least I hope it does.
I'm not making any great claims for this drawing, its not all that strong in terms of line quality and depth of tone, it doesn't have much style and there's things I'd change if I was back in that moment with hindsight, but it is a definite improvement.
I have absolutely no doubt that the cafe sketches have had a big influence on how I'm working now. I'm seeing better, I'm simplifying better and these things have contributed to better drawing and a better likeness.
Past experience tells me that when I make a small jump like this, the initial exhilaration gets dissipated over the following days when I realise that the next batch don't show a similar jump. Its just the way it works, a small jump up to a new level is usually followed by a long period spent on a plateau before it happens again. For now I'm just happy that I'm getting better and the study is paying off.
I've a nasty feeling I've said this before somewhere, but I look on this drawing as my first portrait. Its the first drawing I've signed, so I guess that says something.
Posted 10th February 2006