Back to basics

I SUCK …S-U-C-K-!

Everything I do is shit…. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

I CANT DRAW!!

Ahhhh these are the wailings of a tantrumy (I made that word up obviously) four-year old AND of a frustrated, perhaps every so slightly insecure, forty something year old artist.  My darling husband puts up with this shit about once every six weeks or so.  He’s such a champion and always responds patiently (and somewhat robotically?) with;

No you don’t

No it’s not.  

And.. yes you can 

I know I CAN draw pretty good but sometimes things just don’t turn out the way I have them planned in my head and it can get pretty damn annoying.  The more frustrated I get the more I tend to over think and jump from one idea to the next and from one piece of work to another in the hope that somehow I will have a “break through” and something will work!  Consequently I end up with a LOT of unfinished pieces of crap!  I recently had a clear out of all these pieces out and pretty much filled an entire wheelie bin!  Anyway, all this rushing around in my head, and on paper, has meant that I haven’t really taken my time with something for ages.  So time to stop, slow down, go back to basics.

I wanted to go back to the basic graphite pencil skills I had learnt over the last decade and that I had somehow forgotten in the rush of getting stuff done/trying to create a masterpiece. Step one was finding a reference picture that I liked.  I came across this amazing image by Kyle La Mere.  (If anyone actually reads my blog they might be going hang on a minute, wasn’t she banging on about NOT using reference images last week and something about a potato?!).  Yes I was. And, yes, I am not a huge fan of using reference images directly, but when your confidence is shot to shit and all your creativity has been sucked out of you, it’s time to go right back to basics.  Using a good reference image is a great way for me to practice my skills and to get my confidence back and simply rediscover my love for drawing.  (And before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about “copying”; I am practicing, not creating something for sale and I am giving credit to the amazing photographer who took this photo, twice now!  I’d give credit to the model too but I don’t know who she is.)

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I think I’ve made it clear before that I struggle with hair and for that reason I purposely chose a model without much hair.  I honestly did not realise until I started that she didn’t have eyebrows though!  I often think my eyebrows (not my ACTUAL eyebrows but the eyebrows I draw) look at bit ‘stuck on’ and not part of the face.  I wasn’t purposely avoiding eyebrows in this instance it just worked out that way.

For this drawing I used the back side of some Daler Rowney Smooth Heavyweight (220gm) paper that I had.  I figure maybe I brought it overseas, or a million years ago, as it has a price tag of $29.80 which seems VERY reasonable!  It doesn’t say how many sheets of paper it is, but there are 16 left which make it even more reasonable!  I’ve run out of Arches and when I want to my local art store and couldn’t find any the owner informed me that a new company owns it and they have put the price up $15 and reduced the number of sheets in a pad!  CORPORATE BASTARDS!!!!!  Plus she only had 300gsm.  I brought one pad at $83 which my husband reliably pointed out is $6-$7 a sheet, so “I better not stuff it up”.  Thanks.  Perhaps I should go dumpster diving in to that wheelie bin full of drawing fails and see what paper I can salvage

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I actually quite like this Daler Rowney paper.  It definitely has more of a distinctive texture than the Arches paper. It give a bit of texture to the skin that I like, particularly around the eyes and eyelids.  It naturally gives that crepe-y look that skin has (or at least older skin).  The down side is that the texture is fairly uniform and distinctly horizontal which can look a bit unnatural.  In some areas where the skin is quite firm and taut across the bone like the cheeks or the forehead, it is more difficult to achieve the necessary smooth look with this paper.

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I agonised over how to draw her hair (I told you I was an over-thinker).   My philosophy is always to draw what you SEE rather than what you THINK you see or what you think you know.  Our brains are pretty adept at translating what our eyes see so that we understand it better.  When we see an eyeball we know it to be a sphere so we draw a circle.  But if you really look at it, the top part of they eye is concealed by the eyelid, so really, what you are often seeing, is the bottom three-quarter of a circle.  My point being draw what you see in front of you (three-quarters of a circle) not what you know it to be (a complete circle).  Anyway once again I digress and once again .. am going to contradict myself.

With the hair I did the opposite.  My brain could just not compute what my eyes were seeing.  So I kind of ignored what I saw and thought it’s shaven hair and shaven hair is just short little strokes.  So that’s what I did… lots of short little strokes bit different grades of graphite.  Again the Daler Rowney paper was actually good for this as it added to that sense of texture and roughness.

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I didn’t want to have just a head floating in space so I added the neck using a combination of Tombow Mono 4B and 6B graphite and 6B Staedtler Mars Lumograph black pencils  I have probably mentioned these Lumograph blacks before but they are my charcoal “substitute”. I just can’t deal with charcoal!  It’s messy, impossible to sharpen, and ahhhgg sends a control freak like me in to a tail spin.   Lumographs contain a higher proportion of carbon in the lead than graphite pencils. The carbon creates a matt black finish.  I tend to only use the 6B and the 8B versions as the 2B and 4B aren’t particularly dark.  They are also smudge-able (again not a real word I know) as you can see around the collar of her top.  In truth they are probably not as matt black or as smudge-able as charcoal but for me they are a perfect alternative.

So I am pretty happy with the end result. I feel like I am back in the groove. Maybe I should just stick to what I know and stop mucking around with those colour pencils!!

final

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6 thoughts on “Back to basics

  1. Wow!! That paper sounds really expensive.

    I have to say, I’ve not really put too much thought into my choice of paper yet but having read some of your colour pencil posts it’s something I’ve recently figured I should experiment with. I’ve got a couple of Daley-Rowney pads on the go, I’ll be watching out for this lining now ;o)

    The portrait looks great and why care about using reference photos? I’d say that 87.6%(ish) of what I do is based on photo references – it’s your artistic interpretation that matters. If you were sticking it in the photocopier then fine to beat yourself up, if you’re spending hours creating something from it then it’s all good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paper is so expensive! But I guess $1 US dollar is like $2 AUD !! I think I probably get a bit hung up on paper but you should give Arches a try at least once, it is very nice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, 1 AUD is about 56-57p but even so that sounds really expensive. I have only bought more budget-end paper before maybe, certainly in the art shop I’ve looked at pads where I’ve assumed they’ve typo’d the price ticket.

        Whilst I’m still learning I’ll stick with the cheap stuff 😋

        Like

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