Wednesday, July 20, 2016


For many years I have admired artists who have the talent to capture likenesses in portraiture. Several of our good friends are very skilled portraitists. Watching their skill, which is off the charts, made it feel totally inaccessible to me. I assumed that my art area just didn't extend into that territory. I was happy for them and reasonably content in my own niche. Honestly being a portrait artist seemed really intimidating. We, as humans, intimately know the faces of our people. You get one area a smidge off and it will be known, even if client can't say exactly what is off....something that can be challenging to pinpoint. I just wasn't interested in that kind of intensity.

However, at the beginning on the year I started making time to sketch every single day. Most days I sketch for an hour or two in fits and starts while I wait for the girls to finish lunch or if I have a handful of quiet moments. Fifteen minutes here and there can really add up. Anyway, daily sketching leads one to look for challenges and allows for many mistakes---nobody has to see the bad stuff (well actually I share my daily sketches with a small group of artists friends from around the world through Whatsapp, so they see my garbage sketches too). I was quickly inspired to start exploring figure drawing. 

Then Eric suggested I started portrait practice of famous people. He suggested this because we intimately know the faces of celebrities and can quickly zero in on areas that need work. So I tried it with contemporary celebrities. I failed miserably. Mostly because photos now are so clear that I was overwhelmed with visual information. Do I draw pores? Do I have time to see this through? Life drawing is hard to make time for when most days are spent with two very busy kids. Then I started looking at higher contrast photos and old black and white photos. Much of the visual information had been simplified in a way that I could understand more readily. I also studied the line drawing sketches of tattoo artists. Combining these two elements I started making a few gains in the portraiture department.

Then I had a few commissioned portraits and those turned out too. Now, I am certainly growing and it is amazing to see gains as I progress. I will admit that with each new portrait I wonder if I have lost it or if those last drawings were a fluke.  I certainly have a loooong way to go and really I don't think there is an end game here as there is always room for improvement. In addition to drawing I have been working to incorporate this burgeoning skill into my paintings and real art, not simply sketches from photos.

I guess the point is that I have been working so hard to improve and in baby steps I can see that progress. I am really excited for this new challenge and what it will mean for my art. I certainly feel more free to explore creative ideas that I would have previously let pass. I feel a responsibility to fan the flames that are burning and see what happens. 


Sarah Purdy said...

You're incredible. (hugs!)

Let Me Not Forget said...

From that picture, I think you're doing amazing! And I like how you are stepping out and challenging yourself! Good for you!

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