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….
So I’ve started working on a commission based on A Crane Called Frank. And I thought I would play with some of the oil mediums to see if they might be something I want to use in this new painting (which I’m calling Francine at the moment). I tried out Galkyd, Neo Megilp and Galkyd Gel. And in the process this small storm ensued.
And here is the beginning of Francine. I’m just building the background now. Chances are very little of this will be visible in the final painting, but we’ll see. I just need to put on a few coats of clear gesso to seal it really well and I will be ready to go.
Lastly, here are a couple of drawings from this week. One from a figure drawing class that I’m doing – no, she did not have an inordinately large head, I just messed up the scale – and a small drawing I did during the week while thinking about folded paper in preparation to begin Francine.
Some artwork from quite a while ago that I am debating about painting over…
Just finished reading Leonard Cohen’s first novel, “The Favourite Game” and I really enjoyed it. Especially the passage below. And if you really want to know what puking has to do with school supplies, well, it’s not that long of a book.
“Puking clears the soul. Breavman remembered what he felt like. Fry’s Stationery, buying school supplies. Ten years old. The whole new school year coiled like a dragon to be conquered by sharp yellow Eagle pencils. Fresh erasers, rows of them, crying to be sacrificed for purity and stars for Neatness. The stacks of exercise books dazzlingly empty of mistakes, more perfect than Perfect. Unblunted compasses, lethal, containing millions of circles, too sharp and substantial for the cardboard box that contained them. Grown-up ink, black triumphs, eradicable mistakes. Leather bags for the dedicated trek from home to class, arms free for snowball or chestnut attacks. Paper clips surprisingly heavy in their small box, rulers with markings as complicated and important as a Spitfire’s dashboard, sticky red-bordered labels to fasten your name to anything. All tools benign, unused. Nothing yet an accomplice to failure.”
“Two and two do not make four. Only accountants think that. but that is not enough: a painting must make this clear; it must fertilize the imagination.”
– Miró, 1959
Just back from Vancouver and Seattle for a family vacation. In Seattle we had the chance to visit the Seattle Art Museum and their current exhibition “Miró: The Experience of Seeing” as well as other great artwork. And this painting has absolutely nothing to do with that.
An assignment in the current painting class I’m taking – one I enjoyed in fact. I have to state up front that I didn’t actually draw the image, I transferred it onto the canvas from a photocopy of a photo of James Dean. But I did have fun playing with oil paint again. And the pervasive smell of linseed oil that still lingers. Below that is another little image resulting from a little playing with a new medium – Liquid Pencil. I quite like the text of the book page as a background and am trying to create something a little larger like that.