Drawing people, yuck. In fact, I even tell my students. I don’t like to draw people, it’s not my strong point, and it’s difficult. Or have I been convincing myself all these years?
When Strathmore Artist Paper’s second free online class opened up, the artist Stephen Cefalo’s portraits on toned paper completely blew me away. When the email messages arrived telling me the class was now open, I ignored them. Robert Joyner’s first class had been so amazingly fun, I’d already learned so much.
But my frugality got the best of me. Free course, given by an amazing artist. Even if I didn’t participate, I could watch the tutorials. And, I could always check the artwork from those who had risen to the challenge. No matter how much you try not to compare yourself, the curiosity factor always wins.
Nearly skipped the first tutorial explaining shadow and light. I at least knew that much. But I perservered. Within the first two minutes, I’d learned something new. He holds his pencil on the end, and thinks of his arm as a machine. I was hooked. To someone who has classic training, this might be old hat, but to this self-taught artist who had to rely on her natural abilities, this was eye-opening.
While away for a few days, I tried the new knowledge in my beloved sketchbook. Very challenging to control the pencil. Very counter-intuitive to find my line. But I managed a few sketches, one of which I really liked. Soft, and full of movement.
Purchasing some toned paper, the second tutorial loomed. An interesting man for my first subject. I breathed a sigh of relief that the subject was looking straight at us. But still a portrait. Lots of erasing and refiguring. Reminding me of the truth of my gift of an erasure to every new student with the statement “It’s the best teacher you’ll ever have.” And holding the pencil on the end presented a whole new set of troubles.
Difficult – check. Hard – check. Not my strongest drawing skill – check. But, let’s face it. . .I really did enjoy the project. My friend Charlotte is totally reinventing herself and cataloguing it in her blog 2013, Believe and Make It So.. Yesterday, I believe I reinvented my beliefs about portraits.
It may not be the most accurate portrait that’s ever been drawn, but frankly, it’s probably one of the most interesting sketches I’ve done. Not wanting to violate anyone’s copyright, I’ve not posted the reference photo, but it is on Strathmore’s website. And I strongly encourage any artist reading this blog to sign up for these classes that can be completed on your own timeframe.
What challenges do you need to face today? Trusting the outcome is enlightening.