Revisiting Pencil Portraits

Posted Feb 2019

"Imperfect. And that's okay", I said. It's not like I'm being paid to draw this specific Portrait.

I used to make a lot of Portraits ~ Oil Paints, Pastels, and Pencils. Pencil Portraits. A long time ago. Before we all had computers.

My initial learning involved gridding. But then I figured ~ why work so hard ~ I started to trace the Reference Photo. Then fill in the values ~ carefully ~ using a gray-scale. I got great results. Very accurate.

Then computers came out. Not only could I have easily printed out the lines easier than tracing them, I could have even had the computer find the lines For me. And I think I could have even just told the Computer to affect the photo as though it was a Pencil Sketch (or Pastel or Oil Paint), and then print that out. But why would anyone want me to do that for them? So I switched to Caricatures ~ because, when well done, a Caricature needs the Artist's interpretation.

Tonight ~ wanting to take a break from my constant Caricature endeavors, I decided to revisit simple Pencil Portraits. No cheating. No printing, no tracing, no reference scale. Just drawing. Because that's what I wanted to do.

I used a photo of a man that I recently posted at my website as Reference ~ because I could still find a slightly larger file in my Computer's trash. I put the photo into PhotoShop, turned it upside down, and sort of started to copy the shapes ~ while guessing at values at the same time. Carelessly. I was figuring that I didn't care if it didn't look like him. It was just to feel the pencil making shapes. Just for 1/2 hour.

At the end of the 1/2 hour, I felt surprised at just how badly it turned out. I barely laid in some values ~ not surprised that I didn't get time to 'round them out' in only 1/2 hour, but it didn't look anything like him.

I do like doing puzzles ~ so I could see myself doing the fill-in-the-blanks type of Pencil Portraits that I used to do. But I didn't feel like it tonight.

So I smudged the whole thing together. And I dropped the Upside Down thing, and spent lol Another 1/2 Hour redrawing this right-side-up. Came out better.

I'm figuring that that Upside Down drawing thing was just an exercise for teaching that we're drawing shapes ~ not noses and boats and houses. Just triangles and ellipses and t'hat other shape'. I certainly don't need to learn that anymore. I know that. So I decided to apply real Art to my creative process. Copying the shapes right side up ~ with my Impression.

Now I know why we 'waste our time' doing this sort of stuff. It felt good to let the drawing harness my mind. I really got into it. Maybe I'll give myself the luxury of continuing this drawing later.

And if I decide to do this again, I'm hoping I'll leave the White areas white. Lifting them out with an eraser is torture

Follow Up the next day ~ I spent another half hour on this Self-Imposed Review. Pencil Sketch. I wished I had started it more carefully. What I learned is that there are good reasons why we learn to do things the way we do them.

Follow Up the next next day ~ I wished I had made the 'eyeglasses' bigger ~ just slightly would make it 'look like his glasses' ~ not exaggerated, but if I had paid attention to That ~ what Felt right to me ~ it would have affected all the Other shapes that built off of it.

Now I'm not interested in continuing this particular picture ~ because it's too much trouble to move such dark lines with such crummy erasers.

Event Entertainment for PARTY PLANNING Ideas in New York, Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County.....

You can click on some pictures in this blog to see them larger.
To Hire Caricature Artist Alison Gelbman:
(516) 579-4706