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Old 12-24-2008, 08:10 PM   #11
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
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It's very nicely done and sweet. Well done. The challenges and vagaries of representing artwork on the internet counsel little additional observation.

There are three dark-valued linear shapes across the top of the forehead shadow that I'd still lighten up a bit more. In another drawing, maybe not -- but I'm trying to remember a couple decades back to the feel of an infant's skin. (Those infants are teaching high school English now, or aboard a merchant ship on the Pacific tonight.) On the catchlights in the eyes, I'd reduce the size of the one in the eye on our right (the lighted side of the face) and still take the value of the other one down by at least half.

The pressure of the hand against the mouth is slightly distorting the filtrum, or philtrum (that valley that runs vertically from the center of the base of the nose to the center of the top lip.) I realize that you've been faithful to the reference photo, but I think you could take artistic license and very (very) slightly represent that feature. The slight distortion rather suggests a kind of beak'ed lip, which is what the particular reference photo presents, but we artists are Kings and Queens of the world, so we can fudge things.

What a cool gift this will be. A true Gerber baby.

Had to work today, home late, fun to play with art on Christmas Eve, after the dogs have played in the wintry offering. Cold and tons of snow here in Minnesota, and work on the snowblower tomorrow morning. But I saw a print of Monet's "The Magpie" late this evening, and I was glad to be a northerner. How observant, that blue shadow on snow. (I know you're in Wyoming -- I'm a native Montanan, so I enjoy seeing your Wyoming and Yellowstone works on your site.)
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Old 12-25-2008, 10:45 AM   #12
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
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P.S. I've just noticed the addition to your website . . . looks great! To have managed well a subject of delicacy bodes well for your future drawings.

Start another soon, to take advantage of your newfound or resurgent interest in drawing. The materials handling can't really be explained, it has to develop under your own hand and eye, so do many drawings of many subjects.

I used to do a little mechanical drawing and, so, the exploded parts drawing in front of me now, from the repair manual for my snowblower, has its own fascination for me, but the 2-below start to the day's weather doesn't. I'd rather be sketching some indoor subject. (In The Practice & Science of Drawing, Harold Speed refers to "the long uphill road that separates mechanically accurate drawing from artistically accurate drawing." I cannot recommend too highly the close study of Speed's book. Though my copy is heavily highlighted and notated, it's probably time for me to take it up again.)

One of the most common remarks I hear from good painters is that they know they should be doing more sketching and drawing. It's difficult for paint to cover up a poor drawing, but a good draftsperson at work is evident in all the better paintings. (In Speed's Oil Painting Techniques and Materials, he writes, "It cannot be too much insisted upon that painting is drawing (form expression) with the added complication of tone and colour.")
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Old 12-25-2008, 02:02 PM   #13
Mara Schasteen Mara Schasteen is offline
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Steven,

Your posts are so thoughtful and exciting to read. I suppose it is also worth mentioning that they are helpful, as well.

I finally get it - the baby skin smooth forehead you kept mentioning. Again, I have touched my paper at all points you noted. I feel that this piece has arrived, and as you suggest, I plan to transition directly into another drawing.

Today is Christmas and my husband's gift to me is a drawing technique book. He says the reviews all mention "you have to be good already to use this book." Thanks, Ryan! Merry Christmas.
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Old 12-26-2008, 04:34 PM   #14
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
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A couple of final thoughts, just to avoid ironing shirts for a little while longer.

Perhaps because of the dark scumbled areas in the original sketches posted, I assumed you were using charcoal on a textured paper -- and perhaps you were -- but I think we moved into a graphite medium by the time of completion.

So just a couple of points about graphite. First "point" -- keep the lead sharp (or, if you're using a chisel tip for a wider line, keep that chisel tip well formed).

To eliminate some of the hassle of getting smooth effects on a textured paper, try using Bristol plate paper (heavyweight, super smooth, available at any art outlet) for your graphite drawings, at least for those of a "fine" quality such as the one you've done here. (That said, it is nonetheless quite possible to get very smooth effects on a moderately toothed paper (Canson Mi-Teintes, for example) with charcoal.)

Don't try to get a significantly darker value out of a given lead by pressing harder. Switch to a softer lead for that area -- have a range available, perhaps from 6B to 4H, or wider. Once you press a lead hard into the paper, you'll essentially engrave the paper (or flatten the tooth), which will make it impossible to cleanly move that line later if you need to (if, say, you decide that an ear or eye need to be changed.)

On rare occasion, a small accent of the darkest value can be added to a graphite drawing with a sliver of compressed charcoal.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is curious about what drawing book you received. Many of us are always looking for good instructional reference material.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:59 PM   #15
Claudemir Bonfim Claudemir Bonfim is offline
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Great job!

That is so beautiful!

I can see a lot of progress here.
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Old 01-06-2009, 01:19 AM   #16
Mara Schasteen Mara Schasteen is offline
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For this final sketch, I used Willow charcoal, a kneaded eraser, a blending tool thingie and Bristol brand vellum. I am pleased with how it turned out and when the final sketch is compared to the practice sketch, I am amazed at the difference. Thanks for your help along the way. I am glad I posted this to the forum. I am excited to tackle my next baby potrait, where I plan to use a combination of charcoal and PanPastel.

The technique book I received is "Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil," by J. D. Hillberry. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but his website is www.jdhillberry.com. His technique is flawless, as you will see in the examples on his site.

Thanks, everyone! Especially you, Steven (the only other person working the forum during Christmas ).
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