Art is a funny thing. You can work for a while, making what seems to be very slow progress, if any at all, and thenevery now and againall the strands seem to come together at once and you make a small leap forward. The last time that happened tome was when I did thecarrots and squash painting, I have a feelingits happened again here.
I seem to have improved in a few different ways with this one:
- The proportions of the drawing, as a whole, arebetter. This is partly down to better observation I think, and perhaps also because I re-introduced some measuringinto this drawing. I took relatively few measurements, just anchor points really. I measured horizontally from thebridge of the nose to the back of the cloth that wraps her hair, horizontally from the bridge of her nose to backof her ear, vertically from her eye line to the bottom of her chin and vertically from the bottom of her ear to thecrook 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 everythingyour eye can see, but that’s a mistake. The subject needs to be simplified down to the essential elements neededto describe the form as its defined by the light falling on it. I can see an improvement in the simplicity of thedrawing here. I’m convinced that my quick-firecafe 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, whereusually 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 aboutMichelle here. I’ll have to wait and see what friends think, but Michelle thinks its a good likeness too. She’s a bitput out that she looks so scruffy (she says,) but I think that’s part of the charm. She’d just got out of the bathwhich 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 herat the kitchen table, and I think something of the intimacy of the moment comes across in the drawing, at leastI 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 oftone, it doesn’t have much style and there’s things I’d change if I was back in that moment with hindsight, butit 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 seeingbetter, 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 overthe following days when I realise that the next batch don’t show a similar jump. Its just the way it works, asmall jump up to a new level is usually followed by a long period spent on a plateau before it happens again. Fornow 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. Itsthe first drawing I’ve signed, so I guess that says something.
Posted 10th February 2006
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