Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fear of faces


I have a fear of faces. Of drawing them in a realistic fashion, that is. I am never pleased with the results I get. Take, for example, the portrait above. I drew it last night from a photo of my mother-in-law as a young girl. It is okay, I guess, but it looks nothing like her. I think the eyes are too big, or the head too small. And the eyes are too high on the head; there needs to be more forehead. The proportions are all wrong. The nose is crooked. The hair is unnatural. And does the shading make her look like she has a five-o’clock shadow? Egads.

I know I need to just buckle down and study the subject, but I never seem to make/take the time. This wouldn’t be much of a problem, except that I have a piece in my head that I want to make, and it has a face in it. I think I need to face my fear.


The Fundamentals of Drawing Portraits: A Practical and Inspirational Course Years ago, I bought a very good book called The Fundamental of Drawing Portraits: A Practical and Inspirational Course by Barrington Barber. I could work my way through this. 


I’ve been inspired by the approach taken by Lyric Kinard, which she details in a recent post on The Sketchbook Challenge. Basically, she decided to draw a face a day for a year. She showed enormous progress.

And I’ve drooled over the soulful portraits by Pam Carriker. She offers an online course called Pursuing Portraits that I’d love to take. 


If you have taught yourself to draw realistic portraits, what approach have you taken? If you have suggestions, let me know… I think this is a fear I have to face soon.

13 comments:

  1. My favorite method is to block the photo into squares. Block your paper into the same number of squares. Erase from your mind COMPLETELY that you are drawing a face. Then I take two pieces of paper and cut out a square the size of the blocks in my photo from the center of one piece and a square the size of the blocks in my drawing from the center of the other. I cover the whole photo except for that one square showing. That is the square you draw. Cover your portrait except for the one block you are drawing. You don't need to draw in any particular order either. Just draw the SHAPES and SHADES you see in those blocks.
    When you uncover your drawing, you will be amazed at the finished product. You can fix up anything that did not line up exactly at that point.
    Good luck!

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  2. I have never been good with faces, but on a rare occasion I have made some that actually look like the person, lol.

    Debbie

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  3. I think Lyric's approach of doing many faces is your best bet. The more you draw a face, the better you will become. Learning the basics of where each feature goes in the face is where to start but then it is just drawing and practicing.

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  4. My granddaughter is 16 and several years ago she did a self portrait using the block method Sandee suggested. My granddaughter doesn't think that her portrait looks like her, but I think that is does, as did her teacher at the time. So maybe that is at least a way to start! But as with everything, practice, practice, practice!

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  5. I think Sandee's technique sounds like a winner! I can't draw but I have a old pic of my Mother, when she was in her 20's, that I will use this technique with. I'm so glad you asked this question of your readers. Love your work and your recent trip to Amsterdam allowed me to reminice about my trip to the Netherlands back in the 80's.

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  6. I also have a fear of faces. I am never satisfied with my results. Keep us posted on your progress...and maybe I'll join along with you.

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  7. I make cloth dolls so I have to draw faces quite a bit. Honestly, the best approach that I've learned to drawing faces is to draw the shadows as opposed to drawing lines. I took an online class by doll artist Angela Jarecki (Windows that's hosted on dollstreet dreamers) where she really goes into detail about it. Here's a link to a few of the faces that I drew with colored pencil on muslin:
    http://www.lemontreetales.com/lemon_tree_tales/2010/12/mini-quilt-presents.html

    Good luck with it. I'm sure you'll do something fabulous!

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  8. Susan
    Why don't you start out by tracing the photo of your MIL then working on her features? It would help you get the proportions right. Practice, practice , practice...but, try the tracing thing too!

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  9. I rather think your portrait has character. It is very interesing in its out-of-proportion-ness. It held my attention far longer than one that looked entirely realistic.

    Linda Kahlbaugh

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  10. I rather like YOUR portrait. It is very interesting in its out-of proportion-ness. It held my attention far longer than a more realistic portrait.

    Linda Kahlbaugh

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  11. "Draw Family & Friends" and Portraits in Colored Pencil from Photographs" both by Lee Hammond are excellent self-help guides to improving your drawing skills. Easy to follow.

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  12. Susan, re: the sketch of your MiL, I understand what you see but what you aren't seeing is how artistic your eye is. I wish I could name the artists who have a similar drawing style, one in particular uses pen and ink. You can teach yourself to be technically correct, but I think you would lose everything that's interesting. I vote for more of the same! Now, can you do that in thread painting? Challenge: One continuous line! -vicki, athens

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  13. Susan: The new drawing on the right side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, plus the workbook. It totally works.... Cheers, Sarah

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