And At The End of 20 Weeks We Have…a Nose

You may recall that a few months ago I described my horror at learning from an instructor that we would be working on a small drawing of a facial feature for 20 weeks. Novice that I am, 20 weeks seemed an inordinate length of time to spend on a small graphite drawing.

Was I ever wrong. I not only did not come close to finishing my drawing, I wanted to keep working on it! I had an excuse for not finishing—I regretfully had to miss several classes—but even those students who attended more classes than me felt they had more to do. The kinds of improvements we were all focused on were not changing contours or making other large drawing additions. Instead our instructor Darren Kingsley told us how to improve the drawings by continuing to master our shading techniques and smooth out the graphite, which often appeared darker in some spots than in others, and we could distinguish the tones with subtle additional marks.

Look at the consistency in the tonal quality of Darren's drawing. Look at the tonal shifts and the definition of the shadow areas. I sat next to Darren while he did this multi-week drawing demonstration and was amazed at the focus and patience he had, and his consistency of pressure and stroke.

Darren Kingsley's graphite pencil drawing of a nose.
Darren Kingsley's graphite pencil drawing of a nose.

At one point when he was working with me on my drawing he told me that the next section I needed to work on was a one-inch-square area that should take me at least 3 hours to complete the first pass at it. And he meant it. I didn't do it—it was too easy to move more quickly. And it shows.

Aside from not working the forehead at all, my drawing is not nearly as smooth or consistent in value or tone as I would like. It does not reach the proper value relationships that were right in front of me if only I had slowed down to look. The smaller value shapes are also not accurate.

My brow drawing at 20 weeks. Still a lot to do, but I learned plenty.
My brow drawing at 20 weeks. Still a lot
to do, but I learned plenty.

I need to do this again, from the beginning. However, I am not disappointed at my first try. I did learn a great deal. I learned I need more focus, coupled with more patience. I am reminded I need to look more closely, and to put down what I see, not what I assume is there. And I now know some basics of using graphite in this manner, e.g. always keep your pencil really sharp, what the appropriate amount of pressure on the pencil is, and that making minute marks is what will give me the results I want. And overall, this exercise taught me a better understanding of very subtle values and how to integrate them. The class also provided me a better basis for the kind of drawing that underlies painting, and gave me a start at doing better drawings in their own right if I can only keep at it. The list goes on.

Definitely check out some exquisite finished drawings at Darren's website.   

Glutton for punishment, I next hope to take a class working in graphite with the figure as the subject with Darren. Larger format, 18 x 24. Stay tuned.



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