Sketching Today

Hmmm… I’m wearing myself out sketching of late.

It turns out that even though I haven’t forgotten totally how to draw, my so-called “quickie portrait sketches” are neither quick or all that accurate. I’m a bit bummed about it, but I guess you always have to earn your stripes and I haven’t done any portrait work in quite a while. So now I have to get back in practice. Hrumph!

Today I decided to practice on myself. And since it is much too painful (and depressing) to look in the mirror for long, I pulled up a few photos from the last couple years and worked from those. I have one sitting with a glass on wine in Italy… another at the beach in Florida… and a third being a goofball. There was limited choice because I don’t much like my picture taken. I always look at such photos and wonder who that’s supposed to be. Me? Really? Surely that can’t be me looking like that! Who is that gray-haired lady with the double chin? Not me… starr sketches

But drawing myself was rather easy. I thought all 3 sketches went fairly quick and actually did look like me…

So then, one of my Facebook friends, Lisa, posted a new profile photo today. We’ve never actually met in person but have been online friends for years. And her new photo was stunning. She is looking great and has the world’s cutest haircut! So I messaged her and asked if I could use her new photo to practice on.

She said yes, but that meant I had to do something respectable. Again… hmmm. It turned out just OK – but is a bit wonky. And that isn’t all so unusual.

You see, when I try to do likenesses, I don’t always nail them the first time. What usually happens is that I work on them to the point that I can no longer see my mistakes. And then I have to quit because it is useless to keep going. That’s where I’m at with Lisa. (and with the one of my Dad yesterday.) But if I put it away for a day or two, I can go back and see it with fresh eyes.

Then, all of a sudden, the nose that is the wrong shape – or the eyes that are not the right distance apart – jump right off the page at me. And I’m always so surprised that I ask myself, “what were you thinking?” Look at that mess you made! Now fix it! And I do if I can.

lisaAnyway… here’s Lisa. I may have to go back and adjust it later since I can’t quite tell right now.

I guess what I need to do is not post for a couple days so I can let things sit and rest before I try to post them here. That way you don’t see the original screwy version that needs edited. And I don’t insult someone by making them look like an alien version of themselves…

Also, I was talking to my daughter Ellyn today. She is Josey’s mother – and you know I’ve been trying to draw Josey correctly for a couple days now. Ellyn, of course is my best – and worst – critic. She has a good eye and is always honest with me. Very honest. And while I usually agree with her, sometimes it is a bit brutal.

I didn’t know if Ellyn had seen the Josey sketches because we hadn’t talked about it. Turns out she had.

And she didn’t think they looked like Josey either.

Well, I knew that…

Then, with her usual forthright insight, she asked, “Why aren’t you working from a better photo?”

I can’t tell you how that hit  me!

Yes, an ideal photo will give the best results, but I liked that photo of Josey. I did think the angle of the face was difficult to deal with because it made her nose look out of proportion to begin with. But I want to be able to work from all angles! And that can be a challenge in a small sketch because just the width of a pencil line can make a nose or mouth look all wrong. I know that and I want to do it anyway. And it can drive me crazy.

Maybe some artists pick up a pencil or a brush and beautiful things just flow out the other end, but not me. I struggle with it. Some days are better than others. And right now I’m like a rusty old nail that is long out of practice.

I don’t need perfection. I just want to do lively drawings full of character. Maybe they don’t look right on, but I want them to be spontaneous and charming and somehow perfectly imperfect. And that seems to be easier said than done. So until I run completely out of steam, I’ll fill up my little books and practice, practice, practice.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy White
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 22:27:01

    Wow Starr I am so impressed & envious of you’re talents,these sketches are awesome,if you get bored & need someone to sketch, I will gladly supply you with a picture of me & my little biking buddy;} keep up the good work, we must get caught up soon, Kathy


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