Prada in Pencil

This is not a sad fishing post. I don’t say it’s a shit drawing just to get you lot to say “no, no it’s fab, your fab…“. It’s really about being honest and saying that not every drawing turns out how I want it. For every successful drawing there are dozens of fails or not quite rights. In this age of everything being ‘Insta-perfect’ I think that message sometimes get lost.

It’s February already and this is my first post for 2020!. It has been a hell of a start to the year in my part of Australia with fires, hail storms, and unbearably hot temperatures. As a result I haven’t been able to spend much time drawing but have, through much procrastinating on the lounge, discovered Domestika.

Domestika is “the largest creative community in Spanish”. They offer tonnes of online courses from some amazing Spanish speaking artists. The production qualities, the range of topics, and the knowledge of the artists are all excellent. The only down side is that the tuition is given in Spanish. There are English subtitles but these can be kinda hit and miss. Some have been quite good and some have been pretty atrocious. Every now and then you are treated to a cracker of a translation. A personal favourite “its always better when its bigger and harder”… indeed.

It was through Domestika that I discovered Spanish illustrator Carmen Garcia Huerta. You can find her work here. I love it when I come across an artist who uses colour pencils to produce really sophisticated and elegant artworks. I often feel that colour pencils are a rather basic, rudimentary, medium so when I see work like Carmen’s it suddenly reignites my passion for them. (And then my husband goes and DESTROYS* my ego by saying “nice colouring in”.😤)

What I noticed about Carmen’s work which reminded me of another of my favourite fashion illustrators, Hanna Muller, is the use of strong, clean, outlines. In my efforts to do very realistic drawings I tend to avoid any form of harsh outline but both Hanna and Carmen have a way of using them to make their works really pop.

The balance of softness with and structurual lines that appears in Carmen’s work reminded me of Prada’s Fall 2015 runway collection. The colour pallete was predominantly pastels but there was also something very strong and sharp about it.

“Sweet…but violent. I wanted impact. How can you be strong with pastels?” – Miuccia Prada

I was super pleased with how everything started out but unfortunately the end result was a bit disappointing. It doesn’t quite ‘pop’ as much as I’d hoped. It bores me! Oh well 🤷‍♀️ better luck next time!

I should add that this was completed with both Prismacolor Premier and Faber-Castell Polychromo colour pencils on Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil paper.

*the emphasis on DESTROY may be a little harsh. I’m not THAT sensitive and, while this is a true quote from the man himself, I know he doesn’t mean to be THAT INSENSATIVE. But I did kinda just wanted to make him feel a little bit guilty.

Eye illustrations; practice makes (almost) perfect.

A Detacher 2

This week I decided to do a couple of larger scale eye studies.  Normally when I draw portraits they are on A3 or A4 paper, so the eyes tend to be about 3cm wide at the most.  This tends to limit how much detail I can incorporate.  As a result I feel like ‘my’ eyes are getting a bit ‘formulaic’; a bit same-same.  In an effort to capture more detail I’ve scaled things up this time.  I’ve picked out a few of my favourite looks from the Fall 2018  runways to recreate in my eye studies. Next week I will break it down a bit for you and show you how I draw eyes step by step.

Louis Vuitton

Prada final

A Detacher 2

 

“Grace” in Colour

Last week I had finished the graphite part of this drawing.  You can read about the process and see some work in progress photos here.  I could have left it at that but I have been doing so many graphite pieces of late I really felt like adding a bit of colour.  I decided to break out the gouache paints as I like the opaque, flat almost ‘poster paint’ nature of them. None of that pesky, uncontrollable watercolour behaviour! I don’t feel particularly confident with any kind of painting so putting paint to paper is always a bit scary for me   There is always a high risk that I am going to stuff it up royally.  Hence it was quite a few days before I dived in but I am so glad I did.  I am really happy with the end result.

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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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