Monday, 1 July 2013

Baby, Baby - Step by step portrait colour pencil

Recipe: How to make a portrait. 
Ingredients: A model. 
One A3 sized sheet of Bristol Paper (smooth)
F pencil (if the art shop tells you there is no such thing as an F pencil, leave immediately, for you know more than they do...) 
Colour pencils ( Caran d'Ache Luminous, Caran d'Ache Prismalo 1, and some Derwent Artist)
Putty Rubber, Sharpener, kitchen roll (to keep the page clean) 
Lamp with daylight bulb - on all the time, day and night, directed right onto the paper. 
Melamine Drawing Board (perfectly smooth) 
A dog, or at least a bicycle, for fresh air when the eyes start swapping sockets
BBC iPlayer to catch up on Rick Stein in India, mmmm. 
A kilo of Stamina and two cups of elbow grease. 

Instructions: Stir all the ingredients together and bake in a warm oven for a week. (If only!) 

.... Draw the subject in F pencil carefully and lightly so that you can rub the lines out as you add colour. Add colour LOCALLY, so that each small area is fully completed before you move on to the next. Some people draw a layer over everything first then continually go around and around the whole image until it is done. Personally, I find that way of working soul destroying and rather like pushing a wheelbarrow up hill. Drawing should never destroy the soul, and working up small areas to completion means you can see your progress as you go along. 

It starts off looking like an Ordnance Survey map, not at all flattering. So although the client wanted to see what I was doing, I couldn't show her until I was quite a long way into it. It just looks too weird.. 

Small, gentle (but not 'fluffy') strokes, with everything having at least two colours. 

Large, plain areas are the most difficult in colour pencil, and while I often say I don't like drawing hair, a very large hairless forehead is far harder..!!!! Even my son looked at this forehead and sighed, oh MUM, what are you going to draw there, it's... EMPTY?! I know son, I know.. 

Once everything is 'covered', then hours are spent relayering to get the balance right. 
I forgot to photograph it totally finished - in this pic I haven't done the teeth, but you get the idea. This took about 35 hours. Portraiture, more than any other subject, is an intense process, with added pressure of pleasing the client - we can never truly see a person as others see them. So once it's done, time to get OUT and get the fresh air. I have two more portraits on the drawing board, I'll show you when they're done.

Upcoming workshops - oil painting for all levels, portrait drawing, intensive portfolio course and childrens art days.
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1 comment:

  1. Dear Julie, this is simply wonderful, wonderful. Thanks for the photos of the progress. Lots of success(and patience) with the other 2 portraits!
    greetings from your friend Ans Werker.