Sunday, 27 April 2014

Lavender Hill - Term 5, Weeks 8 - 10

For the last three weeks of term we were able to paint if we wanted to.  I was really excited to try this as it has been over 2 years since my first attempt at portrait painting from a life model and I haven’t had the chance to paint much since.  We spent the first week doing a grisaille.

I used raw umber mixed with solvent.  Starting of by using a large brush to cover the canvas with paint and then wiping it of with a paper towel.  This gives a nice toned background to work on.  Then using a small brush I drew in the basic shapes and then blocked in with a larger brush.  What I liked most was how fluid and easy it was to change things.  I actually scrubbed off my first attempt and started again.

As our model was pregnant I wanted to try a 3/4 pose although this did prove very challenging due to the small size of the features on the head.  My arm and hand was very trembly trying to paint small shadow shapes.  Hopefully I will build up some muscle tone with practice as I really enjoyed doing this.

Week 1 - Grisaille

After a week our paintings were dry and we were supposed to start blocking in the colour.  I didn’t actually end up doing much as I was a little overwhelmed in what to do and where to start. Luckily for me one of the student teachers came into paint and I spent the lesson watching him paint the portrait from beginning to end.  It was a big help.

Week 2 - Studio set-up

Week 2 - Starting to add colour

I felt a lot more confident in what I was going to do in the last week.  I didn’t worry too much about exactly matching colour as I was working with a limited palette of Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Ivory Black and Titanium White. Instead I focused on values just thinking of three, light , mid tone and dark.  This really helped me.  Our teacher had said to leave the turban to last as it would have changed as did the models clothes and had position so I didn’t worry too much about them.

I also learned that although I couldn’t match the colour of the turban that I could still use high chroma to get the effect. I had originally used too low chroma to paint it. Yet again I had a great time and it was a nice end of term even though I didn’t get to finish it.

Week 3 - Adding colour

Week 3 - Photographed at the studio

Week3 - Photographed at home in daylight

Lavender Hill - Term 5, Week 7

This week's pose reminded me of Johannes Vermeer's painting - Girl with a pearl earring.


I really enjoyed having a go at drawing this one. I got of to a good start but lost it in the rendering again.  It needs more work to soften the edges and turn the forms.  One I must do a comparison of and a redraw sometime.

2.5 hours

Lavender Hill - Term 5, Week 6

We started of with 20 min quick poses this week which I really enjoy doing. I wish I was able to do these from life a lot more as I think this is a step I really need to practice.  Then we did a long pose but I didn’t really like the pose as I couldn’t see the legs and I wasn’t really sure how to handle it.  It was good practice though as it really made me think about what I was going to do. I was pleased with how I rendered the breast as I often just make them look like round mounds!

20 mins

20 mins

20 mins

1 hour

Lavender Hill - Term 5, Week 5

My teacher got me to do a small thumbnail of the pose with just the basic outline, hip and shoulder line. This showed straight away were we had gone wrong with our drawing. I think it is a good idea to get a quick understanding of the pose and work out the largest shapes and proportions.

2.5 hours

Lavender Hill - Term 5, Week 4

This is still the same model that we have been drawing for all the other portraits this term.  Viewers may find that hard to tell though!  I am still finding it very challenging but this just makes me want to try harder.  My teacher said to look at the shape of the chin and work up to get the top lip.  This was a useful tip and something to remember for future use.  I would like to do a comparison on this and rework it if I get time from a photo I took.

2.5. Hours

Lavender Hill - Term 5, Week 3

2.5 hours

Lavender Hill - Term 5, Week 2

Quick 10 min head poses - warm up

My original drawing from class was so wrong that I had another go at home from a photo I took.  It still was wrong so I did an overlay and I am still working on it to see if I can improve and get more familiar with the method of working the charcoal on the Fabriano paper we use. I still find it quite tricky to handle.

Quick head poses 10 mins.

2 hour pose.

Henry Yan Workshop - Jan 2014

Henry Yan with the last demo he did of the workshop.

So when I heard that Henry was doing another workshop I jumped at the chance to go.  This is my 3rd workshop and I find that I get more out of them each time I go. Henry imparts so much information that it is good to refresh and remind myself of all I have forgotten.  This was really fun and a great boost for the start of the year.

Day 1 - 10.1.14
Henry always starts his workshop by explaining how to sharpen the Generals charcoal pencils he uses.  Then we all practice making thin and thick, soft and hard lines. This sounds simple but I think sharpening the pencil and holding the pencil to control it to make the right type of line takes many hours of practice.  To build soft lines used to show the muscles and anatomy in quick pose drawing you need to start lightly then go over and over to build up the tone using the side of the lead.

Demo notes: Use soft lines to show direction and capture initial gesture and angles of head, shoulders and hips. Use centre line from pit of neck to judge and work out perspective for width of torso. Indicate centre line for angles of legs, feet and arms. Use overlapping lines to show 3D form. Establish core shadow first with soft, thick light lines then draw darker plane changes with the shadow area by going over the lines to build them up. Cast shadow has harder edge. Use thin pulled hard line to draw contour.

4 x 5min poses - anatomy study

Demo/Notes: When doing quick poses choose what to practice either gesture to capture whole pose or anatomy study. In anatomy study choose parts of the pose that are your weakest of dramatic areas that show muscles.  When you get good you can combine gesture and anatomy study. Work towards 2 min for gesture and 3 min for anatomy study.

4 x 5 min poses - anatomy study

Demo notes: Quick pose drawing is good for practicing core shadow edges. To create dramatic core shadows on the model place the light on the opposite side of your view. Exaggerate and push your gestures from 80% to 120%.  To make a good drawing focus on shapes, perspective and proportion.

First approach start with angle of head, mark top and bottom. To find the shoulder angle look at the relationship with the chin. Find centre line of torso then look at hip to heel of foot to find leg line. Then arm angles, upper arm to elbow and elbow to hand.
Second approach find shape of hair and neck. Find overlapping lines for compressed body parts.

4 x 10 min poses - gesture study

Demo notes: After blocking in the gesture focus on drawing in the shadow shapes. Use light soft lines. Look for the edges of the shadow and start with the obvious shapes. Block in shadow shapes with a single tone.  Look to join all core and form shadow shapes together.
Do this using soft thick lines with no gaps in between, don’t go do dark at first.  Then go over comparing areas to see what is darker and build up these lines softly.

20 min Shadow shape study

Notes:  All of todays drawings are done with 6B Generals charcoal pencil on smooth newsprint.

40 min Shadow shape study


Day 2 - 11.2.14

4 x 5 min warm up on newsprint.

Talk notes: Henry started of reviewing the techniques he had done in the evening demo. Use smooth to medium tooth paper for this type of drawing technique. Start off blocking in the gesture and shadow shape with the 6B charcoal pencil. As charcoal pencil is difficult to erase you can start with vine but be careful to not use too much as it can cause problems later when blending.

Create a dark base with charcoal pencil in a single tone first fill in your shadow shapes. Use vine charcoal to go over and darken your core shadows and shadow shape area. Use a folded piece of kitchen roll (paper towel) to wipe from the dark to the light to create the mid tones. Use charcoal in the background around light areas where you need to wipe. Pick out highlights with a putty rubber.  You need to have wiped tone lightly on to light areas to do this.  Finally use a 4B/2B charcoal pencil to add final details with cross hatching and sharpen shapes where needed.

Henry also talked about the importance of composition and placing the drawing on the paper at a size that will fill it. I mucked up my proportions on the first long pose so I didn’t manage this.

My initial proportions were well off, Henry came along and sorted me out. He said to be careful about the length  underneath the chin where it joins the neck.  It is a common mistake to make this too long. Henry uses Strathmore smooth drawing paper for these drawings.  I was using Windsor and Newton’s smooth cartridge paper for mine.

1hr 20 mins Wiping technique. 

2 hours wiping technique.

Henry came and added a lot more charcoal to wipe over the knee area and add the highlights there.  I ran out of time to sort the face out and soften the edges.


Day 3 - 12.1.14

All to quickly we were on the last day of the workshop. We went over all that we had done on the previous days.

4 x 5min & 2 x 10 min warm up quick poses

20 min quick pose

Gesture and shadow shapes blocked in.

2 hour wiping technique.

Again I got my placement on the paper wrong, too low this time and as I took time to get the proportion right I was rather slow. Henry suggested that I quickly block in the shadow shapes as a single tone and then focus the rest of my time on the head and torso area.  Our model was magnificent to draw and come the end of the day I didn’t really want to stop.