Exactly Where You Need To Be

I first learned about Let’s Face It – and ultimately signed up for the course – because of Iris Fritschi-Cussens and this week was her lesson.  It was a quick and accessible lesson, just what I needed this week.

This was my first time buying a Stabilo All pencil – the only new art supply I have bought in several months – and I rather liked it.  I think it will be a useful tool to use when working in acrylic paint in my illustrative style, using it in the same way I would use India ink with my ink and watercolour work.

I either like to work in an explosion of colour or with more simple colour palettes, often monochrome.  This time I went monochromatic with blues.  Iris had given a pep talk as part of her tutorial and I plucked a phrase from that, one that resonated with me, and added it to the more blank area of the composition.

Week 5 - Your Creative Spark - Exactly where you need to be

Perfectly Imperfect

This week’s Let’s Face It lesson was taken by Petra Stein and involved going with the flow, not getting blocked by striving or perfection, responding intuitively to what happens on the paper … all the things I find a tad challenging.  Challenge is good though.  Leaving my comfort zone and taking different approaches is precisely why I am taking online art classes.

Partly because I like to put my own spin on things and partly because I was improvising with different materials, I strayed a little from the directions of the tutorial.  I also, once again, tried to marry my more illustrative style with the approach of the tutor.  My oldest son observes that I am drawing all necks overly long at the moment.  I am going to claim it as a stylistic trait rather than a composition issue.

Week 4 - Perfectly Imperfect


Face Mapping

For the third lesson in the Let’s Face It course, I drew a face from my imagination.  The nose is rather long, perhaps because the eyes seem quite high.  I need to keep practicing this.  Back to basics.

Week 3 Face Mapping without Reference

I then produced a second drawing using a photograph as a reference.  I am a bit squeamish about using other people’s photographs as the scaffolding for my art work without asking their permission first.  I, therefore, selected a vintage photo of Evelyn Nesbit to work from.  Until I drew Freya a short while ago, I had not completed a drawing in just graphite pencil for eons.  The advantage of using pencil was that I was able to work on it while sitting on the sofa watching a movie with my kids.  I should keep practicing with pencil ever so often I think.  My rust is showing.

Week 3 Face Mapping with Reference




Girl with Green Hair

The second lesson of the Let’s Face It course was about drawing inspiration from different sources and the tutor was  Kara Bullock.

I settled on an orange and green colour palette for my response to the lesson since neither is a colour I use as a “go to” and I have rarely used them in combination.  I probably could and should have gone for something much more daring but orange and green was sufficiently outside of my comfort zone.  I was going to make the hair orange but decided that was too normal and switched so that orange was the background and accent colour and green was the hair framing the face.  Ultimately, I do not like how the hair turned out – partly because I had problems layering Neocolor II and ink on top of an acrylic base – and I wish I had gone with my first instinct to paint orange Pre-Raphaelite hair.  I did not use a photographic reference for my painting and interestingly ended up with a long face and long neck again.  That seems to be what I want to draw at present.  It will be interesting to see how that develops or changes as a result of undertaking this course.

Week 2 Portrait with unusual colour palette 1

Week 2 Portrait with unusual colour palette

Drawing Faces from my Imagination

The second exercise in the first lesson of the Let’s Face It course was to draw a portrait plucked from our imaginations.  Therefore, in contrast to the first exercise in which we used a photograph as the inspiration for the painting, we were to use no reference material at all.  I very much welcomed this lesson.  After a lot of intense arting and some steep learning curves, it was a luxury to be able to retreat to my comfort zone.  I decided to produce two drawings because they are fairly small – 6×9 inches – and I used ink with which to draw and Inktense blocks with which to add colour in areas of the drawing.

Week 1 Face from Imagination 1

Week 1 Face from Imagination 2

My style is naturally quite illustrative and non-realistic.  It is what I enjoy and what I am happy doing.  My aim in undertaking this course is to refine my skills with drawing (and painting) faces in order to hone and progress my own style.  This exercise then is a measure of my starting point.

Painting a Portrait from a Photograph

This week was the first week of my second year long art course.  Let’s Face It focuses on, as the title implies, drawing and painting the human face.  Since I draw humans or human-like characters so much, it seemed like the perfect course for me to develop my skills and improve my abilities.  Life Book kicked off with a bang with lots of lessons in quick succession.  Similarly Let’s Face also started with two exercises for the first lesson, both taken by the course organiser, Kara Bullock, whose WordPress blog I follow.

The first exercise was about painting from a photograph, not in an attempt at precise verisimilitude but as scaffolding for constructing a work of art that resembles the angles and proportions of the original image.  Working from photographs is not something that I do.  I sometimes refer to images just to fix in my head a particular feature, such as what a hand holding an object looks like or what colour the “eyebrow” feathers of a rockhopper penguin are, but I don’t work with that photograph underpinning my drawing or painting.  Partly this is because I simply enjoy working from my imagination but it is also because I imagine that I would experience a creative block if what was emerging on the paper did not resemble the photographic image.  I prefer having nothing to compare to for fear of failure essentially.  Having determined that I am going to strive to stop fearing failure, therefore, this was a welcome exercise in testing my resolve.

A random google turned up a front facing portrait of a young woman that I thought would make the good foundation for a painting.  I liked the soft colours, the warm skin tones, and the dark hair piled around the face.  I knew that a more painterly approach was going to be time consuming and necessitated working on the painting for longer chunks of time than I am used to devoting to a piece in one go.  I, therefore, worked on this painting late at night and I was very glad I did so because it took me much, much longer than I usually work in one sitting.  That in itself was an interesting learning experience.

I can see lots of shortcomings in this painting: the proportions of the head are a bit awry, the skin tones are not as blended in some areas as in others, the mouth is a bit too small and pinched, and I have lost the youthfulness of the subject of the photograph.  However, there are elements that I really like such as the choppy but neutral background, the colour of the lips and the rendering of the eyes.  Considering I used to be entirely inept at painting not so long ago, I can see from this painting how far I have come.  I can also see how far I still have to go with my painting skills but that is the point in doing these art courses after all.

1 Portrait from a Photograph 1

1 Portrait from a Photograph 2