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-   -   Graphite on Bristol (http://portraitartistforum.com/showthread.php?t=1368)

Linda Peterson 09-23-2002 10:43 PM

Graphite on Bristol
1 Attachment(s)
This drawing is 14" x 10", graphite on Bristol. Any comments would be appreciated.

Steven Sweeney 09-24-2002 03:59 AM

A nice little drawing, Linda. A few suggestions you might mull over:

I wouldn't go to the trouble to try to shade in the background on a pencil drawing like this. Not only does it reduce the contrast between the subject and the background and, so, flatten out the whole piece, but it's extremely difficult and time-consuming to cover such a large area in graphite without getting a muddy or blotchy look.

The dark value of the lips is quite stark, and the edges very sharp. I think you'll see an improvement if you lighten at least the value of the lower lip, and with a kneaded eraser rolled to a point, go in here and there and dab out a softer edge around the outside of the lips.

Even with the baby-like "bulb" nose, we need to see that that feature is connected to the bridge of the nose. Lighten the value of the dark edge on top of the "bulb" so that the light can flow through and on up the bridge.

The side of the face on our right is quite a bit wider than on the left, even though the child's gaze is forward. You might check that out.

Even allowing for the characteristic, proportionally large head of an infant, the hand looks a bit small to me in relation -- but check the face width first, because any changes there may take care of this.

On a baby's face, I would keep all the edges between different value areas extremely soft, so that the transition describes the baby-fat pudginess of the face, rather than sudden changes in the planar surfaces of the face. You can use that kneaded eraser again to just tap-tap in the area of those edges and lift out some of the darker value in a graded transition into the adjoining lighter area.

Hope some of that's useful.


Linda Peterson 10-07-2002 08:40 AM

Thank you Steven for your comments. I agree with what you said about the bridge of her nose. I will adjust that and dab out the sharp edges in her mouth. Also, I checked her hand in the original picture and I did draw it a bit too small. I will adjust that too. The reason that I filled in the background is because I took the drawing all the way down to the bottom of the page and to me it didn't look finished with just a white background. Things to consider for the next drawing. Thanks again.

Sharon Knettell 10-17-2002 12:28 PM

Back to basics

Drawing portraits is one of the most difficult things to do. I suggest you go back to basics before attempting a head again. Master the drawing of simple shapes, spheres, cylinders, cubes, cones, etc.. Get some basic books that will guide you in the beginning process of drawing. Get the Walter Foster books. They are simple, cheap and readily available. They will give you valuable information on beginner materials. "How to Draw" One and Two, plus "How to Draw Heads" would be very useful.

Do not copy photographs now; you will never learn how to do solid form. Take figure drawing classes, most communities have something, Jr. colleges, continuing ed. etc..

Get a few skills under your belt and then submit. You will see how much even in a limited time you will learn if you try to do it the right way.

Linda Peterson 10-19-2002 04:36 PM


Wow! I didn't think it was that bad! I would have appreciated a critique that was a little bit more helpful rather than telling me I should go back to basic drawing. I have taken quite a few drawing classes including figure and portraiture as well as studied many drawing books. I know that I have much more to learn, but your comments didn't help me in learning what I could have done to make this drawing better. I will think twice about posting in the future.

Lon Haverly 10-20-2002 12:31 AM

Linda, don't be discouraged. Steven had some good remarks that you can take to heart. Basics are for all of us. I agree with the background comment. The background you chose looks like the child is floating on her back in a tub of water. A background needs to fulfill a purpose - contrast, emphasis, etc. It can come and go. It can be just on one side. It can add flare to the composition. The trouble with a background; once you have done it, you cannot undo it. I rarely use a background in pencil drawing.

There are all kinds of posts here. This is a section for those who are asking for critiques, not a professional section. Students are encouraged to post here, as far as I know. I have never known anyone in SOG in the past to discourage anyone from posting. It is usually pretty friendly around here.

Sharon Knettell 10-22-2002 08:41 AM

This Forum is part of "Stroke of Genius", an internationally respected site which hosts a good many of the best professional portrait artists in the world. In that respect, may I offer an opinion as to what constitutes a beginner here.

This is my opinion and only my opinion, that a beginner here is one who has STARTED a rigorous course in portraiture. He or she is BEGINNING the grueling effort that goes into becoming a fine artist.

This includes:

A. Excellent drawing skills from years of figure drawing.

B. A thorough knowledge of composition.

C. Command of your technique, be it oil, pastel, watercolor etc..

D. A thorough knowledge of color.

E. An understanding of light, its effects and uses.

F. Today, competence in photography.

Sending in a copy of a snapshot of your child or pet is not beginning portraiture.

The art world is not a friendly place.

Enzie Shahmiri 10-22-2002 07:00 PM

Linda, I hang in there. Karin Wells has posted a wonderful thread about what she thinks beginners as well as those who are more accomplished should do to get a likeness down and practice in the process. Sharon's harsh critique probably comes from knowing that you will pay dearly for the shortcuts you take now. I personally never understood color theory, was always bored with it and now can be caught scratching my head wondering what to do next, while working on a piece. Yes, some think I should join you in ART 101, but heck I love this job too much to stop now. Surround yourself with art books on technique, set small goals and practice drawing whenever you can. Develop elephant hide, Sharon is right-the art world is not nice- and you will need it. Defy and conquer!

Minh Thong 01-10-2003 04:45 PM

I'd prefer a harsh critique over being ignored any day. Wanna trade?

Jeff Fuchs 01-10-2003 06:12 PM

Wow, Minh. I'm glad somebody said it.

I've seen where a few people have been nettled by Sharon's critiques, but she reminds me of my design teacher in college. He was a real hard case, and he didn't care how hard we worked. The only thing that mattered was the result! Period!

His attitude was that if something was good, you did it over. If it was bad, you ditched it altogether. He was such a perfectionist that he has affected my entire life, even 20 years later. Very few people made it through his program, because he was determined not to flood the job market with mediocre designers. Unfortunately, he wasn't a fine arts teacher.

In the posting guidelines, there's something about considering the skill level of the person offering the critique. I've visited Sharon's website several times, and there's no doubt that she speaks with authority. A critique from her (and many others here) is like money in the bank.

I sometimes feel that I don't get much feedback on my posts because other new members have reacted negatively, so the pros reserve their critiques for other pros. That's a shame. I have a lot to learn, and don't want to go it alone.

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