day 2… graphite line drawing

This is always difficult to see because the line drawing must be drawn lightly when using watercolor or the line will show thru… especially in paintings of children.    Childrens skin tones are less opaque than adults thus the transparency of the skin allows the paper to show thru giving the skin a delicacy that is needed.  Some people like the pencil showing thru butmany do not.   This is a personal preference.  If I were painting this for a show I would leave them in, judges like to see traces of the underpainting or graphite.  Clients usually do not care to see the linen of the canvas or pencil lines.   You can see how the shadows are drawn in, this is very helpful because as we all know too often whats missing in a good portrait are the small changes in light the occur on the face, the reflective light and the bouncing light.   Some folks draw these with a different type of line (Broken, dashes or dots etc).  Sometimes I will actually smudge the shadow side to allow me to see the correct values of the shaded side of the face.  Not all shadows are dark, you need to gage it on a scale of 0 to 10 what level of darkness it is.  The darkness defines the light side so it has to be right.  Most shadows are four times darker then the lighter value it is defining.    Once you have chosen the photo to be used I suggest putting it in a photo software program and blurring out portions you do not intend to use, this simplifies the photo and gives you a better idea of the shapes that will stay and how they look abstractly.  Then after I have blurred out the shapes I do not wish to use, then I push the contrast way up to see the highlights… those in the eyes, the lips and  elsewhere… Of course, I decide which I want to keep, which I will increase and which I will soften.  No need to put emphasis on areas that are not the focal area. 

Then I push the brightness down to see the darks and decide the same thing except on the other end of the spectrum.  Sometimes you will have missed something and doing this will make sure everything you leave out is your decision not because you missed it.

After the drawing is done it’s best to set it aside, do not over work the drawing, keep the reference photo out so you can see it thru out the day while doing other tasks, you’ll find you ‘ll see things differently at different times of the day.  Speaking of day.. It is generally best to paint in daylight,  Yes, I know I paint at three am, but I also know my best work is completed in daylight, the colors seem more true.  You can buy lights that read like daylight ( I have these) but I think they don’t really measure up to real light.

Now you’ll not touch this drawing again till the following day. This way you’ll see it with “new” eyes. This is when you’ll make your adjustments.   Have patience… don’t rush it.


below is a close up of the face… you can see the dotted lines which are areas defined by reflective light or shadow.   These lines seem harsh and when painted will not look like that,  This is just a road map, often I don’t put all the lines in  but as I paint  I will place the shadows in as I see them.  For instruction purposes I have draw them in  and they are actually darker than usual.   I might add taking a photo of your drawing and see it  on your computer or  camera may also help you make some decisions about your shapes.


One thought on “day 2… graphite line drawing

  1. Greetings,
    I see from the website all the beautiful work you do. My husband is commissioning this artwork of my son for my birthday and just emailed me about it today. I’m excited and thrilled! I am feeling, though, that the face doesn’t resemble my son’s enough. It is technically good, but maybe if you re-sketched the picture, you’ll capture his expression better. Can you provide me with more than one sketch to choose from?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s