22 January 2014

The portraiture course - week 2

The sessions at Blackheath aren't the beginners' class - instead of instructive exercises, we've just done the first week of a three-week pose. I found an entire session of the same post quite hard going, but managed to persevere... It's been interesting processing the photos (not in the order they were taken): it doesn't quite give you a "fresh" look, but you're reading the sequence in a different way, having to look closer to see what you did and try to remember why.

Get out the charcoal and plung into a short pose to get familiar with the model -
 After that, start a new sheet and think about what else might be included - or left out -
The other model was sitting with her back to the wall; this is a demo of how the pose could be cropped to focus on the area of interest, perhaps to include the strong shadow to one side -
 Then it was look, draw, look, rub, look, draw, look, rub....
Frequent breaks (for the models) give a chance to look at others' work and to chat. I was told the pic above looked like "a Sioux indian" - a comment I found really helpful, because I was tentatively casting around for the kinds of marks that could be made with charcoal, and boldly created some feathers for (or in) her hair. This was possibly my point of maximum frustration and incompetence, so with nothing to lose I added darkdark charcoal - not pretty, but it's not going to stay like that -
After the coffee break, quite a lot of rubbing with an eraser, and rubbing/blending with "tissue" (not fingers) -
For those who might want to paint, there were explanations and demos of acrylic paints (not shown) and oil paints; the big box holds the ones supplied by the college -
The basic palette for oils is the same as for acrylics - two yellows, reds, blues (a warm and a cool), and some white (but not a lot); no black, you can mix that. In addition, a bit of viridian green to mix in with other greens, and two further colours (from the small box - tutor's own) that are transparent, indian yellow and manganese violet. For oil painting you need solvent/thinner (odorless) and the medium, which can be Liquin or linseed oil. Will I try this, oils and all that clobber? It would be a good chance to use new materials, but would distract from my objective of "learning to see faces".
At the end of the day, a poor likeness (the eyes, mouth, and goodness knows what else aren't quite right) - with a chance to start again and do better next week. Most people marked the position of their easel and will be continuing with the same piece.
Getting to Blackheath is a bit of a slog - two rush-hour tubes and a train - but there are compensations, apart from the big, light studio. At London Bridge station, some "portraiture" to analyse while waiting for the train -
and a view of The Shard with its head in the mist -


Vicki Miller said...

I think you are going really well, especially the way you made the portrait your own with the feathers

Gillian Cooper said...

I love the way you are rubbing out the charcoal - it creates a really startling effect - don't be so hard on yourself. The drawings are going well.