Archive | September, 2010

Portrait course, lesson # 4

27 Sep

This week there wasn’t as much apparent improvement as the previous week, but if I compare how much trouble some of the others on the course had, I really did remarkably well. The course I’m referring to is the portrait drawing course on my local community college.

Portrait Course 2010/09/27 # 1

1. This time an older model. Many of the fellow artists on the course had problems with her face, but some, like myself needed not much advice from the instructor. In this photo I had nailed the basic structure of the face.

Portrait Course 2010/09/27 # 2

2. Here I had all of her features roughly in the correct positions, with the carefully constructed structure as my guide.

Portrait Course 2010/09/27 # 3

3. Of course, the features are my weak point, since they require a lot of practice, and I’m sure I’ll get better at it over time. So the next best thing I could at this moment was to put the shading in the correct location, and thus not attract too much attention to those weaker details.

Portrait Course 2010/09/27 # 4

4. Since I had time left, I decided to make the portrait into a buste (upper part of the body, including the head), although I kept her clothing as simple as possible. Of course, never having done this before, I needed some guidance from the instructor.

Portrait Course 2010/09/27 # 5

5. After some tips from the instructor, I think I got the likeness and appeal pretty much as I wanted. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but this was the best I could do with my current skill level.

Portrait course, lesson # 3

20 Sep

So the third session of this course proved to be a huge improvement over previous week. Although I didn’t really practice as much as I did in the week leading up to the previous session, I did learn a lot about drawing portraits from thinking about what Bridgman wrote in his book Complete Guide to Drawing From Life, based on the experience I had from the second session of the portrait drawing course on my local community college.

Portrait Course 2010/09/20 # 1

1. I first had the model drawn in rough on a scrap piece of paper (not shown here), so I had a sense of the proportions. Then, with the help of the instructor, I managed to set up the head in perspective view.

Portrait Course 2010/09/20 # 2

2. Here most of the features are drawn in, but something was not right with her forehead.

Portrait Course 2010/09/20 # 3

3. Here I figured out what was wrong, after I did a lot of comparing. Her right side of her forehead wasn’t as wide as I had initially drawn it, so I made it narrower. Also, my instructor pointed out that her chin wasn’t as pronounced as I initially sketched.

Portrait Course 2010/09/20 # 4

4. The hair was a tough cookie. I just wasn’t skilled enough, so I simplified the hairdo. There’s definitely something I need to practice before the next session.

Portrait Course 2010/09/20 # 5

5. After some more tinkering I had enough. Next week we will have another model, the brother of this model. I hope I can do him justice.

The instructor thought I had made a huge jump compared to previous week. I was still full of the current week’s drawing, so I really couldn’t tell. However, judging from last week’s blog post, I can’t but agree with him.

Perspective on perspective

19 Sep

I was reading about perspective drawing in Bridgman (Complete Guide to Drawing From Life), and was puzzled about a diagram like this. Remember, the head is kind of a cube (8 inches high, 6 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep).
Perspective on a head shape (as a block)

Of course, what we see in the drawing above is two-point perspective. However, I could not understand why Bridgman used a circle around the block of the human head. When I tried to replicate similar drawings on the computer, I had to rotate the head, instead of translating it. Then it dawned upon me. The red circle is the field of vision. The human eye can only see sharp in a narrow viewing angle. Anything outside the primary field of vision is peripheral vision, and not considered important for observation. This means to see the world, we change our field of vision (the red circle), and build a complete picture by combining observations into a whole picture.

This means objects don’t translate left or right, but rather you turn your field of vision, as an action. If you think about this, it makes sense, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it until I did the computer experiments. So, because the field of vision is so narrow in humans, when we say we see something on the left or on the right, doesn’t mean that something is moved to the  left or to the right, but rotated left or rotated right.

So if we look at someone, it makes not difference for the perspective if this person is turning his head or moves to the right or left. If this person moves left or right, we need to turn our heads to see the person in the new location. We must move the red circle, our field of vision, in order to see this person in a different location. Of course, in conversation (and how we think about the world) we use location in terms of position, how to reach an object, not how to look at it (because we already have seen the object, so that wouldn’t make much sense).

I’m glad I sort of grasped that concept of perspective drawing.

Joined DeviantArt

19 Sep

So I have joined DeviantArt, with some reluctance. I have no concept what DA is all about, nor can anyone tell me. I also had to take a premium membership just to be able to upload images from my iPad (via FTP).

I guess the only way to find out is to take a full membership and see where it takes me. I have very low expectations, or if I’m really honest, no expectations at all.

You can find my profile page at


17 Sep

So drawing should be fun, but what kind of fun is that, exactly?

Warm-up sketch for September 17, 2010

Well, I can only speak for myself, and for me, it is all about magnetism, about sticktoitiveness. This is a mix of discipline, honesty, accountability, and habituation. defines it as follows:

dogged perseverance; resolute tenacity; also written stick-to-it-ive-ness

The Urban Dictionary defines it as follows:

n. The ability to stay with a project and see it through to completion.

However, these definitions say nothing how to get into a state of sticktoitiveness.

Art Petty has a better description in his article about sticktoitiveness.

What it comes down to is priority. Some things are more important in life than others, and since time is limited (for humans at least), you can’t do everything. You must make choices in life. For some this may pose an unsurmountable obstacle, because how do you know a particular road you take is the best road? Well, you pick a road, see if you enjoy its path, and if it does, you stay on it. That wasn’t too hard, was it?

The feeling that everything in life should be to-the-max is silly. You can’t live in extremes, because if you do, there is nothing to refer to as less extreme. A full life is about contrast, of having success and failure.

Yes, failure sucks and hurts a lot, as it should (otherwise you can hardly call it failure), and the more we invest in something, the more it hurts, because we hate losing something more than anything else. The grief over loss is a corner stone of the human condition, and perhaps the main motivator in life. Ask yourself, why do we go to work/school while we don’t really want to, at least, some of the times?

These are negative feelings, and we’d like to avoid them, but we can’t. However, for some this is a reason not to make choices, or to put off those choices for as long as they can (procrastination). What if I fail, or it doesn’t do as well as I initially thought? How can we get through that?

I think it is about not taking things too serious, taking a step back, and acknowledge how things work. We humans live in social patterns, and the pattern we go through in grievance is an important one to be aware of. You are able to go through the grief of failure, while disassociating somewhat from the emotional roller coaster. This is, I believe, the basis of stoicism. It is accepting life’s hardships and lucky breaks with a more even emotional attitude. You accept the chain of emotional reactions you go through, but keep the eye on the ball, the thing you want to accomplish. Going ballistic or giving in to primal emotions often does not bring you closer to what you really want. You need to restrain yourself for the higher purpose of getting things done.

It is this discipline of keeping your head up despite defeat, of accepting defeat as something that is part of the creative process, that makes you forget about the consequences of possible failure. You can deal with it. Of course, if you’re into competitive sports you already knew this. It’s how you deal with losing a game, rather than winning, which defines your “sportsmanship”.

So now you know that, even it may turn out to be a total flop, you can do anything, do you simply take on any challenge that is in front of you? Well, no. You can’t take every challenge. You always have to ask yourself if this really is something you want to get into. You need to be honest to yourself.

There are those who pray on people’s sense of loss and guilt to make them do things. We refer to them as marketers, advertisers. We learn early on in life to ignore those people, or give them only a small place in things we find important in life. However, there are also challenges in life, that get our blood boiling with emotion. That is a cue to take a step back, and ask yourself, honestly, is this something I want to be bothered about, and if so, how much?

One of the things about honesty is that you don’t break promises. Not breaking promises is called accountability. We make promises all the time. And like challenges, not all promises are made equal. Some are small commitments that don’t take much time and energy, others are big, lifelong commitments which define who we are, and anything in between, of course.

I realize that promises are generated inside ourselves, while challenges are external (they present themselves to us). However, on an abstract level, there is really no difference between challenges and promises. So, as with challenges, if a promise makes an emotional impact, makes you gulp, you should take that step back, too.

Then there is habituation, things we do because we are used to it. It gives us a kind of comfort. Like anything, we can use it to our advantage, or we can let it use us. To use it in a positive manner, people usually set schedules and acknowledge milestones of achievement.

You want positive reinforcement for a habit to take hold, stick. The best way to do this, in my experience, is to chop a big project into smaller, achievable mini-projects, and cross if from a list after completion. The positive experience makes you want to do more of the same, and habituation sets in. You get addicted to an activity, like creating art.

Those are some of my thoughts about sticktoitiveness, about how you can be drawn to a subject like a magnet. Fee free to add some of your thoughts in the comments.