Drawing & Painting a Simple Series of Corrections

There are a number of misconceptions that I held about drawing and painting when I started taking art classes at Studio Incamminati, among them that really good artists don't have to make corrections to their work. Various instructors here have corrected me on this, explaining that drawing and painting is making a series of corrections, hopefully with each correction getting the artist closer to the illusion of reality he or she seeks to create. What a relief!

Portrait drawing by Monica Bean, the first stage.
Portrait drawing by Monica Bean, the first stage.
Portrait drawing by Monica Bean, the second stage.
Portrait drawing by Monica Bean, the second stage.
Portrait drawing by Monica Bean, the final stage.
Portrait drawing by Monica Bean, the final stage.

The drawings here show the progress and "corrections" Monica Bean has made to a portrait drawing she worked on, each time getting closer to her overall goals for the piece. As you can see from the finished drawing, the most obvious refinement is in the amount and placement of the light filling the face and chest of the model. The contrast between the models's right cheek and the background has been heightened, making clearer both the values of the model's skin in light as well as its form. The same is true for the forehead, cheeks, nose and lips, all of which now look to be in varying degrees of light.

The values in the shadows have also been softened. Note how dark the model's left cheek was in the first stage of the drawing compared to the finished piece. Not only do the values look softer, but the model's countenance looks softer; she retains her character, but is less intensely focused. She wears a look of concern, perhaps, but without the sharpness that attenuated her face in the earlier stages of the drawing.

As Monica finished the drawing, she added both the torso of the model and its shadow. The shadow helps to ground the model and stands in contrast to the comparatively strong light falling on her chest and blouse.

Monica also strengthened the highlights and dark accents in the piece and further developed the eyes, an area of portrait drawing that many people consider to be the most important aspect of any portrait. In talking with her about how she proceeded to her finished piece, Monica said she found it helpful to think of the features both in terms of their relationship to each other and the whole of the face, but she also thought of each feature as a little painting that could stand alone. I had never thought about the latter before, but the proof that it works for her is in the persuasive way she captures each of the features.

Monica has put in her time on this portrait and moved on to painting a portrait of another lovely woman. Rest assured though, this is not the last work of hers that I will share for us to discuss.


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One thought on “Drawing & Painting a Simple Series of Corrections

  1. Great Post!
    It always amazed me how a painting starts off as a dot, a line, a brush stroke… and ends up as a something beautiful, complex and ‘professional!’ The evolution of this portrait is fantastic and it shows how each aspect of the painting, shadows and outlines can be corrected along the way to create the ultimate, desired look, something I always have to keep in mind when you hit a point when certain parts of the painting become tedious, as you try for that picture you have in your mind!