We often complain about lack of time and hectic daily routines that don’t allow for any creative activities and art. Fitting sketching or painting in our day can sometimes be tricky, I cannot deny that. However, sometimes small breaks for a quick doodle instead of long art sessions, can be the solution. I personally use part of my lunch break every day to draw a portrait.
Ways of making the most out of your time in an art workshop
For those who are keen to improve their drawing and painting skills, there is plenty of interesting workshops and art lessons out there; what are the best ways of making the most out of it though? Although you might think you have found the perfect art workshop that covers the areas you need some help with, there is a number of factors that could prevent you from being efficient, focused and getting all the information you need from the lesson. In this article we will go through a few ideas of how to make the most of your time during the workshop. Hopefully, the following list of Do’s and Dont’s will help you prepare accordingly for attending the next art workshop!
If you have been to more than one life drawing sessions, you have probably experienced exactly what I am going to talk about in this article. It is very true that not all life drawing sessions are equally successful and productive. There are many different parameters that can affect your performance. No matter what, my recommendation is to never give up. That’s the only way to keep learning and trust me; the next session could be the best one you have been so far!
“I enjoy drawing human forms, either portraits with charcoal or full model figures with acrylic paint. I was interested in drawing since I was a little child and learned on my own. Later on I took various lessons. I definitely want to study art more thoroughly in the future!”
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Looking natural is fundamental for any portrait that wants to be called “realistic”. To be able to achieve this, showing the skin creases or stretches is necessary. The best way to learn how to draw them accurately is by having at least a broad understanding of the structure of facial muscles. Since we are not aiming for “medical level” studies we will only quickly go through groups of facial muscles and follow a very simplistic method to draw and memorise them.
Continuing the line of Classical Greek philosophers, this is the bust of Socrates. Socrates is one of the founders of western philosophy and despite not having any surviving writings of his, references by others inform us about his valuable work and thoughts. Socrates was teacher of Plato who in turn was teacher of Aristotle (see BUST – 3); all of them very important philosophers of Ancient Greece.
This bust; as previously; is drawn using charcoal and a kneadable eraser. After tone was applied I just used my finger tips to blend where required. Similar technique and steps were followed as previous pieces of this collection (see BUSTS).
A very rough grid was drawn firstly. To do this I just compared the total length of the bust to its total width (not including the plinth). Doing this helped me define the correct proportions of the main shape of the head. In this case, as the bust is slightly tilted to the left, defining the middle point of the face was not particularly helpful. I trusted my instinct and after measuring the proportion of the forehead compared to the total length of the head I made the first charcoal marks showing Socrates’ eyes and eyebrows. To be as accurate as possible and to take into account the perspective of the “mask” I used a slender needle and plotted on my paper the lines connecting the ends of the two eye brows. In the same step I quickly sketched the outline of the nose too.
Using the same technique (needle to measure proportions of lines and angles caused by perspective) I formed the outline of the head and roughly sketched the hairline. After the basic shape of the philosopher’s face was on my sketch pad, I erased back to the point I was just able to see my previous lines. I then started to define better all lines and make more confident charcoal marks.
…I erased back to the point I was just able to see my previous lines…
When I felt comfortable with the shapes and outlines I had, I moved on to my favourite part…adding tone! First, I added smaller amounts of tone just to define different planes on the man’s face. Forehead, cheeks and chin are probably the ones that will make your drawing stand out immediately. From then on it is a matter of adding detail and showing the shadows and light on the face more accurately.
Final step after I am happy that the amount of detail I wanted to show is there…is to go back and strengthen the tone and highlights where necessary. I quite enjoy this final process as I believe it makes my drawing more vivid and the additional contrasts capture the eye and attention.
Drawing Socrates was very enjoyable and helped me understand better how face lines work in perspective when the head is slightly turned to the one side!
I hope you enjoyed reading this! You can see my previous bust drawings here:
THE ARTIST SAYS…
“Busts is a collection of charcoal drawings which represents my first steps in the world of life drawing and drawing of human figures and faces in general. In these first drawings I am just trying to put in practice the theory that I read in sketching books or the instructions that our tutor gives during our life drawing classes. Hopefully, as I progress and practice more, the quality of my drawings will improve and more confident lines and powerful tone contrasts will appear.”
Art is more fun when you meet the artists themselves. Meet the man behind the scenes. Visit THE ARTIST…
Today the session was different to the previous ones. First of all we had a male model which I had never drawn before. But the main difference was the content of the session itself. Our tutor organised for us two exercises.
The class started setting up the model…behind a screen! We couldn’t see him at all. We were only allowed to quickly go behind the screen and take a brief look and then run back to our easels and sketch. We were allowed to go back and forth as many times as we wanted however we couldn’t take our sketch pads with us.
Aim of this exercise was to improve our observational skills and our memory. A good understanding of the human body structure was very helpful as by picking up some information then you could build up and complete your drawing. Most of the students struggled (including myself). I managed to make the following drawing which did not please me at all. I acknowledge that this was a very useful exercise; very frustrating though!
Following this first challenge our tutor had prepared another task for us (and the model…). The students were sat in a circle leaving a small “corridor” empty in the middle of the class. The model had to walk slowly up and down the class making a small stop in the middle taking a pose for a few seconds. We had to capture the movement in our drawings. Purpose of this exercise was to create quick lines with flow instead of completed sketches.
A second wave of frustration hit me as I managed to quickly draw different poses along the way however I completely missed the element of movement. Again I understand the value and use of this exercise but I think it needs loads of practice to actually capture the flow and the movement!
Finally, the tutor set up a long pose which lasted for about an hour. The model, who was a tall muscular middle aged man, was holding a spear with both hands. This led his muscles to stretch and his torso to take a very sculptural form. The pose was not particularly easy as from my position the neck was hidden – i couldn’t understand how the head sits on the shoulders. I had to scrap my first drawing before I actually managed to form the correct figure.
The Artist says:
“Since I joined the life drawing classes, I have really developed a completely different way of looking at the objects around me. I try to spot the details and I try to understand how different elements of an object affect the proportions, the shape and the tone. Studying the human body is quite challenging but really rewarding!”
Art is more fun when you meet the artists themselves! Visit THE ARTIST…
“I am a self taught portrait and animal artist based in Manchester, UK. At a young age I began experimenting with art (I come from a very artistic family, so art was always a large part of my life), but quickly found myself overwhelmed with education and jobs. Because of this I went through a 7 year period of not drawing, not painting, not even thinking about art. It was only 2 years ago that I picked up my pencils again and decided to make a career out of my artwork. I now work as a freelance artist and couldn’t ask for a better job. Art, for me, is just like meditation, it relaxes and helps clear my head of any day to day stresses and I honestly couldn’t imagine a world without it. I mainly draw in chalk and charcoal but am starting to experiment with oil paints.”
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