“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

December 9, 2019

November was month three of faces as my drawing subject and, to be honest, I’m pretty much done with this for the year. The fact that the year is almost done as well is a relief. In November I redrew 29 of the same faces that I chose in October. The first 17 were Canadians that I admire with the remainder originating from other countries.
I changed my medium for November, starting with pencil and adding ink. I had thought that drawing first in pencil – eraser in hand – would result in a lot more accurate likenesses – and in some cases it did. I think I did somewhat better in having eyes that lined up and jaw lines that made sense, etc. Some of the individuals are even recognizable, but the improvement was not to the degree I had hoped for. When I next return to drawing faces I will work to level up some more.
Throughout the month, I played a lot with various approaches to achieve an effect I liked. My initial pencil drawings were quick and simplified. For the first five drawings, I continued by laying down light grey washes of India ink, slowly building up to black and finishing with the dip pen in black ink. I did this to avoid the ink washes smearing when I laid them down over the lines, but this left me feeling like I was outlining things at the end and not actually drawing. So with the November 6 drawing, I just stopped using the pen altogether and I continued on that way for a bit, adding all of the lines with a brush and ink. This wasn’t ideal as I was unable to achieve the same fine lines with the brush – and I really missed the variety of line thickness that I can create with the dip pen. On the November 17 drawing, I returned to my dip pen but used alcohol ink for the drawing before adding the India ink washes over top. This ink behaved a little differently – it tended to bleed a bit more and as a result, all of my lines were thicker. I liked the look of some of these drawings though. I switched back to the India ink on November 26 with Stephen King because I needed to use finer lines on his glasses. There was a bit of smearing when I put my washes down over top, but not that bad. And frankly, I was a bit bored with all of the faces by then. I finished the month with this same process and I feel my last few drawings turned out fairly well.
Overall I’m pleased with the results this month, even though I did not come up with a single approach that I consistently liked. And I never really found a great way to represent hair, eyebrows or teeth. I learned quite a lot and I enjoyed drawing this past month. Sometime in 2020, I’m sure I will return to faces again in some form. In the meantime, on to Christmas subject matter for December….

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