Sunday, September 28, 2008

Life drawings

The last two life drawings won't go down as my best work but they are, I hope, important steps along the way to improvement. Both drawn with Lyra Rembrandts and both nowhere near finished but I felt they could have improved given more time. I don't work on them once the session is over so I get more of an accurate idea of how my work is changing over time. Right now I'm working on trying to get the colours more saturated and trying to push myself to get more done in the time. The Lyra Rembrandts are good for this, being fairly soft, but I'm finding their properties inconsistant across the range, not to mention slow going, so I'm wondering whether I should try other media instead.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Another brother, Steve! With this portrait, I wanted firstly to test out my new Lyra Rembrant pencils, and secondly to see how long it takes (approximately) from start to finish, without making any more effort than usual to hurry it.

The Lyra pencils are very nice to use. The only niggles I had were that the tips broke quite easily when they were sharpened and the limited range of colours - I found the yellow ochres a bit bright and I could have done with more greens and creams. The scan has darkened the portrait a bit, especially in the background, but I used green for the background and overlaid it with grey. Unless I'm building up skin tones, I'm not too keen on layering colours, I prefer to go for the nearest match but the greens I tried out were too dominant and I felt the greyed version was more in keeping as the scarf, hair and jacket are all predominantly grey. I found once I'd finished, or thought I had finished, that the greys didn't work on their own - it looked like a black and white picture with only colour in the skin. So the scarf had yellow ochre added and the hair had dark sepia added and it looked much better. I tried adding blue to the jacket but it wouldn't take any more layers and I found that the black pencils actually handled differently too, to the other colours - more like charcoal and built up in a very blotchy way!

I attempted for the first time to use the flesh tone pencils to build up the skin tones but found them very unsatisfactory. The first layer was Light Flesh but I then used yellow ochres and Venetian Red mainly. Magenta was used for accentuating and this time I found Warm Slate Grey to be the surprise - it added shade without looking dirty as cool greys sometimes do. The overall shade of the face looked too dark until the scarf and jacket were added, and than it looked too light but I think with the layer of Light Flesh, it was very difficult to get any more layers on to it to deepen it further. Overall, I learned quite a bit from this, and would probably do it slightly differently next time, but Steve likes it, and that's the main thing! Oh, and no dreadlocks this time but yes, he does have one green and one brown eye!