Saturday, May 4, 2013

How to Draw and Paint Facial Features - Part 1

It's all in the eyes.

I'm doing a series with the oil painting class that I teach at Forstall Art Center, in Birmingham, AL. We will be doing small studies of each feature of the face and then putting it all together at the end with a full portrait.

I printed out two good reference photos of eyes to share with my class. They will have the option of which one to paint. (Thanks Jeanine for the in progress shots!)

Is it fair to make your class paint images of your favorite models, even if those models happen to share the same DNA? I submit that it is. Moving on.

We talked a bit about the structure of the eye as in this except from Andrew Loomis' book. 

Since every artist needs to work on their drawing skills we are doing a full value study in charcoal or pencil. I started off in pencil and quickly switched to charcoal after figuring out that my students could see charcoal marks better. 

I started off the drawing with a block in, taking care to measure placement on the page, checking angles and proportions. This sketch is larger than life just for fun.

Next I added shadow shapes and worked on cross contour hatching. I think aobut the lines I'm making the same way I do the eventual brush strokes. Use directional strokes to describe form.

This is what I finished in class. It could definitely use more work. Read below drawing tips to help resolve any work.

Back in the studio I worked on it a little more, reminding myself of the things that I had talked to my students about:

Non-parallelism- the concept that in organic shapes there are no such things as perfectly parallel lines.

Wedges- the concept of how organic things grow into each other, twisting and spiraling into each other. The human body is less like sticks with tubes of clay over it and more like twisting strands of rope. Muscles flow around the body, into and out of other muscle.

What is in front? - Something is always in front of something else. Have a clear image in your mind of that and it will help you see it more clearly thereby drawing a more convincing illusion. 

Convexity- There are no naturally concave forms in the nature.  If it looks like a concavity, look again. It maybe be multiple convex curves twisting and spiraling together. There is a fullness and life to nature that plumps it up.

When I was happy enough to move forward, I traced the drawing onto tracing paper using minimal lines. Then I scribbled a little charcoal on the reverse side of the tracing paper and transfered it to an ampersand gessobord panel that I had previously stained with a bit of thinned burnt umber. The stain was thoroughly dry.

You could also trace your drawing directly but I wanted to preserve the drawing for future demo use.

To make the transfer I taped the tracing paper down and traced the lines with ball point pen, not pressing hard enough to mark the panel but just enough to see a charcoal mark.

I then redrew the eye with a medium permanent sepia pen. That allows me to retain my drawing when I get to the next stage, paint! 

I'm careful to actually redraw not simply trace my drawing.  Each step is an opportunity to make corrections to the drawing. 

Next time color mixing flesh tones and painting the eye. 

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