Nose Number Two and the Second Cafe Sketches Trip
The contrast between the two ways of working is interesting. On the one hand, the nose drawing is anattempt at patient, detailed observation of form and tone, on the other, the cafe sketches, a mad dash toget as much down as possible before the subject starts fidgeting or goes off to finish their shopping.
Neither is better than the other, both are valuable exercises and teach me different things I think.
Nose number two is my nose. These series of features I’m doing, eyes, noses and mouths, are about patientobservation. I’m trying to develop my ability to see things correctly through slow, methodical drawing.I tend to work by roughing out the subject lightly first, trying to concentrate on seeing shapes and relationshipsbetween shapes in order to get the proportions right, then going in and stating the main tone blocks. Thelast stage is to work some detail into the shadow areas and perhaps strengthen the outline more where it needsit.
This is quiet, methodical work. Through these drawings of features I’m trying to get away fromproducing finished drawings and taking each feature in isolation to get to know how to represent form throughline and tone.
My second sketching trip to the Cafe Nero was as much fun as the first, and although I didn’t produce as many drawings,I think that they’re better overall and also that I learned more this time.
These drawings are primarily about sharpening by ability to take a snapshot of what I see, to concentrate onthe main shapes. Having to draw quickly goes against my nature, but ironically I’m finding it the most fun of allthe drawing I’m doing at the moment.
Like the features of the face series, these drawings are about avoiding getting hung up on producing finisheddrawings before I’m ready.I hope to get a feel for proportionand character over time by producing a lot of these quick sketches. I hope that eventually these drawings willteach me to catch that special something about a person, whether its in the shape of their head, the way they holdtheir hands or their bodies, whatever it is that distinguishes them and makes them different. I really think thatthis is going to be a big help in learning to produce good portrait paintings, when I finally get to that stage.
The cafe sketches are also a great way of practicing some elements of portrait painting without being in apressured environment. Who cares if the subject gets up and walks off before I’ve finished? I just start anotherone. Who cares if they twitch and fidget? I have to be able to catch them anyway.
I think its the challenge I enjoy so much about these fast sketches. Also I find people fascinating, and thisway I get to sit and look at them very closely, hopefully without them realising it. I find that as I walk homefrom one of these trips I’m studying the faces of people who I pass on the street. I have to catch myself sometimes,in case they think I’m trying to stare them out, but for a budding portrait painter, studying faces has got to beone of the most useful things I can do. The cafe trips get me doing this without having to try, and that has to be agood thing.
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