Friday, 13 November 2015

Portrait commission, colour pencil on Bristol Board

I have just finished working on my portrait commission, and wanted to show some of the stages involved.

Above - the finished artwork. It's hard to photograph it - it looks a lot warmer in reality. The smoothness of flesh is created by using thousands of tiny strokes, with very sharp pencils. A blunt pencil creates a clumpy lumpy texture, but a sharp pencil give control, albeit slow and careful. 

I began a week ago. 

The first stage is, I admit, really weird-looking. I draw the whole image out so it looks like an Ordnance Survey Map, so that when I am working in colour, I don't need to make so many 'drawing' decisions, and can concentrate more fully on the colours and tones I need. 

I seem to start with one eye, every time. 

Above - showing the tiny strokes of flesh. The forehead is a challenge, especially when it is smooth and perfect. 

Creeping down the face - it looks rather like the colour is being poured on. if only it were that simple! I complete small areas at a time, so that I don't have to revisit the whole thing over and over. I do have to do a lot of comparitive observing, all through the artwork, and again  at the end, but generally speaking, as much work is done as I go along as possible. 

Pressure is a much misunderstood aspect of colour pencil. if you lean very gently, you are effectively doing a rubbing of the paper, and that is not what you want. You need to lay colour down with conviction, but without leaving any trace of your line. The exception to this is in the hair. You can see above that I lay the initial tones down more roughly, to get the paper colourse, before going over it again and again to build up a really rich dark colour. A lot of elbow grease here. Mixed in with walked to the park so the cabin fever doesn't set in.. 

Above - another view of the less-sharp pencils, roughly put down for the initial hair.

Many hours later (about 20) everything is almost covered. The white paper is beginning to look very cold, so I added a light warm ochre above the heads to soften it. (see top)

Next up: drawing and water colour weekend, 
Portrait drawing workshop

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