Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Process and the Man

I woke up this morning, sad because I had to go back to work today after the long weekend.  *insert my Lucille Ball/I Love Lucy type "WAAA!" here*  I popped over to my blogger dashboard thingie, and lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have 2000 page views (exactly 2000 too, which was a pretty neat coincidence)!  Woo Hoo!  That's totally awesome! I just had 1000 page views just a short while ago, and now we've hit 2000!  What?!?  I am so excited!  I still didn't want to go to work today (I wanted to stay home and do celebratory dances all day long), but either way, my sad face disappeared and perma-smile took over!  Thanks everybody!

Today, I thought I might show you how I come up with my faces that I draw...the condensed version anyway.  One day, I am going to remember to take a lot of pictures during the process and get you the long version.  I tend to get caught up in the excitement and forget to take pictures, but I am going to eventually strap the camera to my forehead and remember.  At any rate, today you get the short version...

The important thing to remember here is that I am not an expert by any means.  This is my current method, and you have to find what works for you.  I'm definitely still learning myself.  But, from where I started, I'm much improved and I thought that this info might help somebody...

The short version starts with me finding a good reference picture.  Most of the time, I use my trusty Pinterest account to do this.  You can check me out on Pinterest by clicking the button in the left side bar of the blog, or by searching "Sweet Red Clover" on Pinterest.  Don't do it now, or you'll get sucked into the vortex of amazingness that is Pinterest and forget to read the rest of this post...I know this because I do that at least once a day...so wait till you're done reading, then go look at it...and enjoy the pleasure spiral that is Pinterest...  

On Pinterest, I have a board called "Photograph", which is where I put the images I've seen that really stand out to me in one way or another.  I like to use pictures that really catch my eye.  I keep this board in mind whenever I'm online, because you never know when your pin might come in handy.  I've found the best pictures on random sites that have nothing to do with art or even that particular photo...sometimes they're just ads in the side bar!  But that doesn't matter, because these are images that I can get excited about.  

I scan through my "Photograph" board until I find one that fits whatever mood I am in that day.  Sometimes I can't find an image on my board that I want to use, so I go searching on Pinterest for interesting faces till I find one.  For me, the 'interesting' part is important.  If I REALLY like the reference photo, I've got a better shot at making the piece it inspires interesting (at least in my eyes).  And interesting doesn't always mean 'pretty' either.  But that's a whole different topic in and of itself, isn't it?

Here's the picture I used as my reference this time:

Hello, handsome!  I liked this guy's sweater and his cute little ears and strong jawline...his forehead is a bit weird looking to me, which is probably the real reason I liked this picture.  I like things that are a little 'off' to me...I don't want perfect, I want interesting.

After I find the right picture, I do a simple face sketch...this is the part where I really need to remember to take pictures next time.  This is where I take a pencil and lay out the face shape.  I start with (usually) an oval, adding a line down the center vertically and three lines across horizontally.  Many people do their guidelines as half, half, and half.  I do mine half, half, and a third.  This means that I draw a line half the distance from the top of the oval to the bottom of the oval (this is where the eyes will be), half the distance from that 'eye' line to the bottom of the oval (this is where the bottom of the nose will be), and a third of the distance from that 'nose' line to the bottom of the oval (which is where the mouth will be).  Depending on the particular face, the proportions are a little different for each drawing, but I've found that half, half and a third is what I like the best in most cases.

After I draw that out, I add simple shapes for the eyes, nose and mouth.  This is just to get them where they should be, not getting them in fine detail...that comes later...  Then I adjust the outer oval, because nobody's face is a perfect oval shape...or at least nobody I've come across so far  Among other things, the guy above has a more squared off jaw, and his face dips in where his eyebrows are.  I gave my guy a hat, because he looked cold and because I couldn't see his hair, and, to be honest, hair is hard for me...I get bored with hair fast...both my own (hello ponytail!) and hair to draw.  When I get the face shape to a place I'm happy with, then I adjust the shapes of the features...adding in the details of what they really look like.  There is A LARGE AMOUNT of drawing and erasing that goes on in this stage.  So much erasing...  I've found a really good tip concerning erasing somewhere along the way, which is if you're not happy with a particular line, draw the new line, then erase the old one...I had always done this in reverse before, but leaving the old line in is a visual reminder of what I didn't like about it and helps me to not repeat the same mistake twenty times.    

Once I'm relatively happy with what I've got, I either go over it in waterproof pen or (as has been the case lately) I spray some kind of fixative on it so the pencil won't smudge.  I use hairspray because it works and I am too poor to buy fixative.  Hairspray will eventually yellow, so if that's a problem for you go buy some fancy fixative...and buy an extra can for me... 

I wish I could find the link for a video I watched on YouTube where this FABULOUS lady was doing a tutorial on how she draws faces.  If/When I find it, I'll post the link.  Anyway, she was talking about drawing and said something to the effect of: "I don't like to draw things exactly how I see them.  If you want an exact copy, why not just take a picture?  I like to put my own spin on things, put myself into the drawing."  Not her exact words, but the point is there.  I like this because a) it makes a lot of sense and b) it makes up for the fact that I am not ABLE to draw an exact copy...yet.  So, if you get frustrated that your drawing doesn't look exactly like your photo, just tell yourself that you are "putting your spin on things" and keep practicing. 

So here's what my pencil drawing looked like when I was done:

Not an exact copy by far...but my spin on the photo has been spun...

Next up is color.  I do a lot of 'fixing' with color...probably more than I should.  I think that I need to spend more time in the pencil drawing part if I want to improve further, but I digress...

I am a big fan of watercolor, because you can still see your drawing that you spent so much time on.  Acrylic and oil, which are also great, are harder in my eyes, because you are getting rid of your pencil marks...and you have no guidelines once those are gone. Watercolor is much easier to me.  And you can build color, starting out really light and slowly working to dark, which has helped me in learning more about (and  putting into practice) highlights and shading.

The most important thing I've learned concerning color is to use a light hand.  You can always add more, it's not so easy to take it away.  The second most important thing (especially with watercolors it seems) is to start with lighter colors then go to darker colors and it's for the same reason...you can build up with your light colors and that might be enough to get you where you want to be, whereas if you threw that dark color in, it's hard to take it back...

So, after much explanation in getting to this point, here is my man:

The journaling got cut off a little, but it reads: "I had so much more to say to you.  What do I do now?"

So, clearly, I don't know everything.  *insert your shocked gasp here*  But I thought you might like to hear how I do my faces.  I've learned a lot by watching other people, and by being willing to practice over and over and over and over (and over and over...), and I'm always searching for ways to do better.  

It is a complete understatement to say that I love making these faces.  Perhaps it's because I'm looking for a personal connection, and so drawing something with eyes and ears and a mouth is my way of finding that.  I can 'say' things to these drawings that I can't say to live people.  I can make them tell me what I need to hear...which kind of makes me sound like a crazy person, I know.  What I mean is that when I'm done with a drawing, I get this mental clarity...I figure out what I've been thinking about deep in my mind that I might not have gotten to understand otherwise.  I don't usually start out with anything particular in my head, other than wanting to draw.  Even if I do begin with something in mind, where I end up could be a totally different place.

For instance, the man I shared today.  In the beginning, I just wanted to see if I could draw a man...this guy is my first attempt at a man since I really started trying to draw in earnest.  But the more I drew, the more he became something else.  See that reddish hair?  I grabbed up the red before I even knew what I was doing.  And once that got on the page, two distinct things came into my head.  There are things that have gotten taken away from me, and I wasn't ready to lose them; I wasn't done with them.  And I've been looking for ways to get them back, even though it's impossible.  And I can't seem to shake them, despite the fact that I know it's over and nothing can change.  So what do I do now?  I guess that's my big cosmic question to the universe...what do I do now?  And maybe someday, I'll be drawing another face, and the answer will come out on the page.  Until that happens, I guess I'll just keep drawing face and listening to what they have to say.

1 comment:

  1. Sweets... Love you bunches! Good choice on the handsome model. Your sketch of him is amazing, the striking blue eyes, perfect beanie cap, and that chiseled chin!!! Wow. I LOVE your words most of all, you seriously make me laugh!!! Congratulations on the 2000 views. Hugs, Pam


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