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Old 02-02-2009, 11:09 AM   #1
Madelaine Boothby Madelaine Boothby is offline
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Facing sideways

I am meeting on Sundays with some other artists, we get a model who does long poses. The pose I was presented with yesterday was of a lovely young lady laying down, and i wanted to do her face, of course. I started out with a quick sketch on my arches watercolor paper and COULD NOT get a handle on her face. After at least 30 minutes of erasing, I asked the gal next to me for a piece of paper, and drew the face. It was really hard. I finally got a face with proper proportions, but it wasn't right. I turned the paper over and started again, carefully, breathing, and trying to sketch this gal's face. At the long break, I stood and sketched her while she talked to me about her unusual career, with her head upright. I was able to patch it up a little bit but still wasn't happy. Finally, I had 1 hour left to go and decided to just paint and see what came up. I liked my painting better than I liked the two sketches that I spent most of my time on; albeit, learning the face.
I took a picture of her which I plan to work from this week in the luxury of my home. I was really surprised that the camera picked up more warm tones from her face and skin than I could see. My eyes kept seeing blue, blue, on her forehead, her shoulder, her eyelids, but the camera did not. I found it unsettling that my eyes were not truer.

There was a problem with the pose that added to its difficulty. Her head kept rolling with gravity. I didn't realize this until the session was almost done; it was, Hey, I didn't see that ear before!
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Old 02-02-2009, 11:11 AM   #2
Madelaine Boothby Madelaine Boothby is offline
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Here is the painting. I did not do her justice, but you can see the problems I was having.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:01 PM   #3
Claudemir Bonfim Claudemir Bonfim is offline
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I can see your point.

Photographs and reality are two things completely different. That's why we do color sketches.

Most of my works are done from life, I don't like photographs.
If you are going to work from life, you will need to have one refference point always in mind, the tip of the nose, a ear, etc, this helps a lot in case your model moves.

Drawing from general to specifics will help you get a better likeness next time.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:22 PM   #4
Madelaine Boothby Madelaine Boothby is offline
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three problems

I'm trying to break this down so I can get better responses, although I thank you very much for your suggestion about a focal point.

1. Is the answer to the moving model just finding a better pose? I think she was really trying to be still. She never moved the rest of her body, only her head and fingers, which was a bummer for me, the only one trying to just paint her face.

2. The not seeing the colors as they really were is troubling to me. I knew instinctively that this lady was not blue of course, but that is what I was seeing. Should I just paint blue or compensate?

3. The sideways view, also perplexing, I could turn the picture of the head straight and correct things and then turn it back sideways and NOT see it. I'm curious how other people handle that. I know for sure that I am going to practice with the photo this week to see if I can get any better at seeing sideways.

Thanks again for any suggestions or thoughts!
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:57 PM   #5
Allan Rahbek Allan Rahbek is offline
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Hi Madelaine,

1. It is a good idea to settle on a pose that is easy to hold when you plan for a long sitting. Try to find one that is easy to do, one that has good edges, some hard, some soft and some lost edges.

Apart from the nice hard edge of the left cheek our pose has mostly soft edges and almost no lost edges. It is difficult to define a face if there is that little variation, and the slowness of the watercolor proces makes it even more difficult. Sometimes you just have to wait.

I would have expected some lost edges under the head, by the neck and on the shadow side of the nose and the right eye.

I don't believe in the the light values in her right eye and the light on her right cheek sinse the light seems to come from above.

2. If the model is a real redhead then she might have very pale skin (a wonderful challenge for the painter) and it will look a bit bluish compared to the red hair. I don't think that the skin color looks wrong on the painting. The blue background holds the blue skin color back.

3. The alignment of the features, eyes, nose and mouth is a tough one on a sideway pose.

You saw my own problems on "Freja". I even noticed it and corrected it a bit on the first version, thought that it was enough, but it wasn't.

My suggestion is; find a pose with some clearly defined edges, hard, soft and lost, and some clearly defined values, light on the upside and dark underside. The hand could catch the light while the right underside of the face is dark. Things like that.

Look forward to the result.
Allan Rahbek
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:31 AM   #6
John Reidy John Reidy is offline
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Hello Madelaine,

I only wanted to add 2 points specific to your post -

1. I find that your eyesight is always a better judge of colors than the camera. The camera can be a terrible tool regarding color and values. Be very careful.

2. The head turned on its side will be off of what we normally see when we view the head in an upright position due to the gravitational pull on the fleshy parts of the face, like the cheeks. It appears you have caught that in your painting. I just don't think turning the sheet will really add anything more than to change your reference like when you place your painting upside down or sideways to double check.

Good luck. It sounds like a great exercise.
John Reidy
Que sort-il de la bouche est plus important que ce qu'entre dans lui.
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:14 PM   #7
Richard Bingham Richard Bingham is offline
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This is too kewl !! A problem that any who consider themselves good observers and finished draftsmen can test themselves against!

To me, it points up two eternal truths:
1. We are hard-wired to insist that what we think we know is what we are seeing, and,
2. The total irrelevance of subject matter -
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Old 02-12-2009, 02:27 PM   #8
Jennifer Bogartz Jennifer Bogartz is offline
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Models always move a little, they fatigue, perk up, and settle. If you can be decisive about where the front of her face is, and whether you are looking up or down at her head it is easy to plot some reference points. You want to look for landmarks such as the side of the eye sockets, or the corner of the cheekbones, the circumference of the brow and the relationship of the ears to the bottom of the nose. If I only had an hour to paint a figure I would try to convey the solidness of the structure more than I would try to get a likeness. The head has a structural quality that doesn't change when you rotate your head. The only thing that moves is your jaw and the muscles. No matter how you turn a head, the top of the ears circumnavigate to the top of the brow line. The bottom of the ears circumnavigate to the bottom of the nose. Finding the pit of the neck will help you to discern where the center of the face is. If you can plot all the relevant points, than it wont matter if she moves her head a little because you will already know where you want the placement of her head. Figure out the axis of the head in relationship to the pit of the neck, is it tilting showing you more of the top of her head or are you looking under her jaw? Plot a circumference line on the axis of her head that proves the position you want it in. Base all your other points off of that, thinking around the form.
Jennifer Bogartz
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:09 PM   #9
David Clemons David Clemons is offline
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Many times the features of the face are less symmetrical than we're led to believe. The mind tells us one thing and the eyes another. Trust the eyes.

If you concentrate on first getting down the things that are the most critical in terms of placement before the model may move, then it won't matter as much when she does. A few quick lines to get things in their place is often all you need. After that, the model is more a reference than the source of literal copying.
David Clemons

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Old 02-14-2009, 11:43 AM   #10
Madelaine Boothby Madelaine Boothby is offline
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Take two

Wow, I had not received any further notifications and so many people wrote such valuable suggestions on here. Thank you. I have indeed determined that even with young pretty girls, parts of the face DO sag towards the pull of gravity. This accounts for some of the distortion that I found, but not all of it.
I found the changing light of the day rather maddening, but here is my second try at painting her. She felt better this time and held still a lot better.
and thanks, ALL of you for your wisdom.
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