When I decided on drawing this portrait in particular I asked myself if I really knew how to draw hair. A challenging task to accomplish when faced with a blank sheet of strathmore paper before me. Since part of the head is cropped I knew I needed to really evaluate how I was going to start, the thought of it was quite daunting! I had to think of his hair more as a roman sculpture of sorts, rather than individual hairs so that I didn't overwhelm myself by thinking of the end result too early. Once I blocked in the darkest parts and left the lightest parts untouched I was able to finally start thinking of detail and the way stands of hairs fell over the undulating forms of other clumps of hair.
I drew Michelangelo's 'David' a few years ago but I had been thinking about drawing detail close ups for quite some time now. The face is most striking (besides the hands) so I thought I'd start here. 17 hours later and here we are. I used layers of crosshatching (no blending involved) building up the lights and darks with generals charcoal and wolff's carbon pencils on a fog blue paper.
This was my very first attempt at drawing birds of prey and all intricacies of feathers. I haven't had this much fun drawing in quite a while and I think it's because it really put me to the test as far as keeping my eye focused on the finer details. 8x10 inch
It has been quite a while since I've drawn a female nude and I'm very interested to working on the skill of drawing them so now is a better time than any to start again. I've gotten so used to paying attention to every undulating form of the human body so it'll take some practice to notice some of those subtleties beneath the surface of soft features.
I've always been an admirer of Maxfield Parrish's work and the way he'd use warm lights along with cool shadows to produce a certain mood and I wanted to get some practice in on this concept. My love is not so much of landscapes but anatomy or the human body so I just tried to combine the two things I love involved in art.
The intricacies of the hands are quite intriguing for me to draw. It fascinates me to draw them while keeping in mind what the undulating forms really mean as I shade with the white chalk. The bones, the muscle structure, veins, tendons, and how they all come together to create as much emotions as a facial expression can evoke.
This is probably the first time I've used color in quite some time. It's also the FIRST time I've tried to used color in pencil form. I'm dabbling slowly and trying to get the hang of it before I dive right in so you may see some more posted here soon...especially since I received a sweet set of pastel pencils as a gift recently! I used Orange, Indian Red, Black, and White.
I painted this up for a friend last year but am just now getting around to posting it. This was one of the most challenging pieces I've done in gouache just because of all the architectural elements and mossy rocks. I am missing painting more and more lately...
"Art by Rita Foster" in lower right hand corner is a watermark
I wanted to offer you a rough how to draw tutorial of mine which I actually took progress pictures of back in 2010 when I worked on the Apollo piece. I've been meaning to post this for quite some time but as you know life does happen, new projects arise, and ideas sometimes fall away momentarily.
I hope to someday make a how to draw tutorial for my youtube account fairly soon so as to show the movements my hands make, it's much easier to explain to fellow artists through a visual perspective.
I always make my drawings from looking at photographs and then add my own stylistic quality to them. Adding in ideas I have for the finished product. In this case, I chose to use the burgundy colored canson mi teintes paper to use as a warm colored base.
I kept in mind that whenever I blend black and white charcoal that of course it makes a gray, and when applying a cool gray next to a warm color it automatically gives the gray a blue tint.
Cool verse warm temperature is another way to help an image stand out.
Since this piece, I have switched to using Wolff's carbon pencils. These pencils are a charcoal and graphite mix so as to give stability and smooth transition. Once I discovered these I never went back because they are so durable that I can sharpen them to the finest of points without having them break when I apply them to the paper. This sure does help me to get finer details in. I did use generals charcoal pencils for this project in particular.
When starting out, I had a vision that I wanted to produce dramatic lighting and contrast the lights and darks as much as I could.
I begin with a rough contour sketch of the drawing. Measuring, using the sight size method. I use my pencil mainly for this, always taking note of different measurements and picking out landmarks I can measure other parts of the picture against.
I sharpen my pencils by cutting back some of the wood and then sanding down the charcoal tip to a fine point and removing the excess dust as to avoid getting unwanted charcoal dust onto the drawing. The less you have to use your eraser the better!
I first hold the pencil like this, it gives my arm a wider range of motion for basic shapes and angles.
At this stage I like to make sure my pencils are really sharp and I usually have about 5 each of black and white so that I don't interrupt my thought process by having to keep sharpening my pencil for the drawing.
Holding the pencil like this gives me more control over the smaller angles I want to start adding, the finer details I'm going to have to pay attention to.
This is about 3 hours of work so far. I separated light and shadow shapes as guidelines for future progress. This is the most important stage of the drawing process because this is the blueprint of the entire artwork. There is nothing more important than making sure the proportions are correct because you do not want to commit yourself to wrong measurements before you've even begun to tackle the rest of the drawing.
For me, I feel that I can never over work this stage. The more detail, the better.
Next, I begin to color in the deep darks of the shadow areas with charcoal. This helps me to envision the outcome and begin to give it some depth. I start by coloring in the darkest of darks first, then mid-darks. The darkest areas are going to be excellent landmarks to work from in the future.
The next stage is laying down a light layer of white pastel down in the areas not cover in shadow, this further helps separate light and dark and is a basis for the three dimensional aspect I hope to convey.
The next step is a little challenging sometimes. I actually start to add a layer of white over the entire drawing, but I only do this in small sections so I don't get too confused by what I see. The affect is that when I add black charcoal back over the white charcoal (in shadow areas of the drawing) it produces a gray that I think mimics the look of stone or marble. I use a process where I continually overlap light layers of black, then white, building up the texture that I hope to produce.
The more layers of white, the lighter it is. The more layers of black, the darker it is. This can be a painstaking process, but so worth it in the end.
This is about 5 hours in. I kept layering and building up the darks and lights, but at the same time keeping the color of the paper in mind. I wanted to make sure some of the burgundy color could still be seen through all of the layers of charcoal, especially parts of the light area because it gives an illusion of texture, which gives it a life-like feel of marble or stone.
Sometimes charcoal papers can do this for you. Mi Teintes paper actually has a textured side and a smooth side, for this I used the smooth side because it lets me get finer detail in, but I really believe that texture is so incredibly important to keep in mind when making a drawing.
This is basically what I concentrate on for the rest of the drawing, all the while fine tuning and adding more detail where I feel is necessary. I leave edges less defined in shadow, crisp and sharp in light. I also find that adding some dark to the background next to the lighted side helps the subject pop out to an even greater degree.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful to some artists out there or maybe even just curious folks.
Just one note, I usually don't blend but rather use a series of crosshatching and keeping in mind the contour of each undulating form ,wrapping my pencil around the forms I envision.
There is a trail along the yuba river that I love to visit from time to time to hike a few miles and the stairway always captures my attention so I felt compelled to make a drawing of it. Just over this hill there is a beautiful view of the yuba river that I always love to visit.