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Drawing Practice

Although my sketchbook is in part a visual journal of my daily life, it is also the place that I practice drawing and painting.  This year, one of my goals was to practice figures and especially faces, and I found that I could instantly make a toddler look like a teenage as soon as I sketched in a face.  Yuck!  I couldn't stand the page I did Friday so I tried again in pencil the following morning.  So this shows my "old" child's face and a slightly more youthful child face in pencil along side.


Yesterday I went to the preview of the new Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night).  I like to draw from the Masters, and like to do at least one sketch at art exhibits,  Yesterday I chose an 1878 shaded pencil drawing that was in a glass case.  It is such an early drawing of Van Gogh's that it isn't even included in the huge VanGogh gallery of drawings on the web.


He shaded in pencil, but I used gray watercolor to try to achieve the same tones.  In a note included with the drawing, Van Gogh said that he loved buildings lit from within during the evenings when workers were at rest.  I also love to walk by homes lit from within during the evening hours - canal houses in Amsterdam and brownstones here in New York City - so this drawing really resonated with me. 


She's adorable, Shirley!

Apparently one of the big problems in learning to draw faces is to stop drawing self-portraits. For art students, this probably arises from the fact that many of their first portraits ARE of themselves. But when trying to draw children, it is useful to know the differences in proportion between adult, teen, child, toddler and baby faces. There are (SORRY! I know you want to do this experientially, not academically) books that describe this.

I tried two or three times to paint my older daughter's portrait. The good news: you can see it's a portrait, and even the colors are not bad, but it isn't Vika's portrait!

Taken by itself, your painting is nice and I wouldn't have noticed that it is essentially an adult's face -- probably would have assumed that it WAS an adult. ;-)

Shirley, I love going on your gallery trips with you - I'm mad with envy over the Van Gogh exhibition but feel I've at least had a sweet taste with your drawing and little story.

Getting the proportion of children's faces is always difficult at first - just give them BIG BRAINS and fit the features into what is left. Of course by the time they are teenagers, one needs to reduce the size of the brain for a few years ;)

Hi Shirley,
I've really enjoyed looking at your drawings! Thanks so much for your encouraging words on my blog, I feel so much more inspired :)

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