Graphite sketch results in intimate knowledge of facial features.

Progress in my graphite portraits occurs slowly but I can see improvements with today's sketch of a total stranger. One gains intimate knowledge of another person with this type of exercise.

Intimate knowledge of stranger’s features

In taking five hours to sketch this young woman, I do notice where each freckle should be, where the darkest freckle appears, where the bangs end over the eyebrows, the little earring that is showing on one side of her face, the light shining on her hair.

However, these elements might not have been perceived just by flipping through the pages of a photo album. But really taking the time to sketch each feature, to pay attention to the curves, and the shading, makes a difference in the final outcome.

Under scrutiny - graphite sketch
Graphite sketch "Under Scrutiny", for weekend challenge at Olga Furman Art.


And this is what I like most about any kind of art.  The artist becomes so much more aware of ...everything.

Sketching and painting allow the artist to see so much more...

The arches in a building, the way the sun might exaggerate certain elements of architecture, these are the types of details that an urban sketcher will certainly see while spending an hour or two painting a city scene.

A landscape artist will notice all the variations of colour: green gold, olive green, emerald green...

A portraitist is immersed in the sitter's features.

And then, as time goes by, progress is plainly visible...

Time slows down when one is absorbed by the art. Troubles melt away. The eyes and mind are sharply focused on the subject. Almost nothing else matters.

Learning takes place with each new art project

Finally, last weekend’s challenge, "Under Scrutiny" pushed me further than I had been before. I learned to use erasers in ways that I had not tried previously, I saw shading that helped to define the planes of the face, and the eyes are much more realistic than in previous graphite portraits.

Certainly, I know where my flaws are in the sketch, but I was prepared to let her go, with all her imperfections, after five hours.  (Note that the weekend challenge is meant to be done in about an hour. Oops!)

What hobby or pastime or passion allows you to slow down and unwind?  Please leave a comment below.

2 Responses

    • Thank you Sally. I would say it takes about an hour to get the initial proportions and shapes and then maybe three for all the shading and the last hour (or was it more?) to make all the adjustments so that she really looks like the photo that was submitted for the challenge. You can try it too! This is a free activity and it is open to everyone.

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