Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carol and Madison - The darks and the lights - #2 in Step by Step Demo

This is a crucial period of the portrait. I am creating my roadmap so I drive this double portrait in the right direction! First thing I must do is preserve my lightest areas so that any smudging, migrating, mistakes, etc. from darks to make sure they won't stain my paper so badly that I can't get back to light.

I detailed my drawing of the bit, and colored it in with white. Of course, it's not going to stay white, but it is an important light, and I can always go darker over the white. I also used white to "paint" all of the highlights on Carol's face.

Then, more white on the muscles and planes of Maddie's head and face. I tend to over do the white a little, because I can always erase it. Then, the roadmap to his face with the darks. Horses' heads are a mixture of curves and planes and what I find so much fun about doing equine work is how crucial capturing these details are for a good likeness! I used a prismacolor dark brown pencil with a very rounded "point" with a very, very light pressure to color in the darks as I see them.

Now his eye has a lot more darks. I overdid the white reflection in his eye to preserve them, but hardly did anything more to his eye. Maddie's eye is the focal point of this colored pencil painting, so will get the most attention. That's for much later! Right now, I'm just looking for those patterns of darkest darks and lightest lights.

So, after I thought I was done, I flipped it over, flipped over my photo, and saw that there were tweaks here and there! It always helps to do this. My eraser came back out and I refined the dark shapes I see.

Getting the lights and darks right at this stage makes the rest of the process enjoyable. Otherwise, I'm fighting my bad drawing the whole way through. It's worth it to take way more time at this phase than I want to, cause of course, I WANT to get to the fun part of adding the real color.

Now, with Carol, I haven't done as much to yet. I have resketched her body and arms, and fixed a few facial features that weren't quite right. I saw the errors of my initial drawing when I was adding the shapes of white to her face where the light hits. This method of adding the lights and darks right after I think my drawing is perfect, really helps me to see when I haven't hit it. You might notice I didn't touch her white shirt. That's because I made the decision that this giant white shape takes too much attention from the action and story I want to tell, that of Carol looking right up Maddie's nose into his beautiful eye!

Next time, I'm going to have work done on the background. I know lots of artists hate backgrounds, but background frames the subject..or subjects in this case. I am going to tell the story here that Carol and Maddie are outdoors on a beautiful spring day, but I can't let that blooming tree become the story!

Also, by doing the background next, it gives me time to take a fresh look at what I now think is the best drawing I can do on Madison. I know from experience, that I will see even more areas where I need to move something a smidge here and there.
It pays to go back and perfect to the best of my ability. It's like in knitting. If you mess up one of the first rows, you can never really get it back! Of course, I am not perfect, but getting this part as close to perfection as I can will let me relax later on because I have the basic framework in place and will be able to relax and let my style show through later. Which makes each artist's work unique!

Hey, thanks for following along! I'd appreciate if you'd direct anyone you know who might be interested to follow along with us! If you just started, this is the second step in my demonstration. Click on the banner at the top and my whole blog will appear. Click on the follow button on your right to follow. My pet portrait website is HERE I depend on word of mouth so won't you please pass on my info? Thanks again for coming, and hope to see you next time! Robin PS: please do comment and ask questions! I will be happy to answer all questions about how I work.


Lisa Ullrich said...

Hi Robin,

I love watching step-by-step's of artists doing their work. You gave some very good points. I have only done on colored pencil drawing and I felt like is was much harder than just strictly graphite. Can I ask, what kind of eraser works best with colored pencil? That is a big problem I had because it would just kind of smudge it around. Can't wait to see more!

Robin said...

Lisa, I use the white plastic eraser. I also use Mi Teintes paper, which is very hard and hard to erase a hole in. Some papers are soft, lots of ppl recommend Stonehenge, a printmaking paper, but I find that too soft it requires too many layers for me.

I'm glad you're watching along, and please ask anything else you think of! Robin

Carol said...

Robin, lovely. With a few strokes of light and dark it is starting to take shape. My niece thought you are an amazing artist (I am in Australia at the moment). How you approach a drawing is completely different to the way I would, so I am learning a lot.

I have trouble keeping my lights light when I start to add in the darks. Would you explain a little more how to keep them?

Robin said...

Carol, thanks! I'll explain more in my next post of you and Maddie, have been under the weather and just getting back to it!