Richard Squire returned to the club to talk about and demonstrate his method of portrait drawing. He explained that he bases his portraits on careful observation of the subject and not rule of thumb ideas of face proportions. As with life drawing, the first thing to establish is the overall shape of the head by lightly drawing the outline, checking and correcting.
He suggested that members establish a vertical reference line and lightly mark the angles of the hairline, eyeline, ears, nose. Then observe the face symmetry and lightly mark the position of key features.
After careful comparison of the layout against the model, members could start drawing in their own style, paying particular attention to the shape of the subject’s actual eyes, nose, mouth and ears. The position of the pupils is particularly important as eyes can vary.
Richard mentioned that he draws in tones rather than in lines. Mouths are mostly areas rather than lines. He adds colour tones where appropriate and white as highlights.
Margaret Clapperton ran a workshop to help members explore ways of creating paintings or drawings that did not appear to represent objects, people or scenes.
Beginners may find it easier to start with an image and select shapes in combination to make new images with interesting colour combinations.
Shapes can be copied using tracing paper. Draw the image, or parts, on tracing paper then trace it onto painting paper. Then move the tracing paper around and trace over the top of the first tracing, breaking up the original image. They can then play with the shapes and colours. The finished result can hint at the original source.
Example of a landscape image changed to an abstract painting, by Margaret
Abstract works can be based on geometric forms and imagined colours.
Richard Squire made a return visit to Pateley Bridge Art Club to demonstrate how he draws a life model. It was a refresher lesson for some with the chance to do better than last year and something new for others.
The lighting of the subject is crucial to produce a lively drawing. For example lighting from above to one side and slightly behind, produces shadows on one side of the face and body.
He quickly showed how to lightly draw the outline to ensure that all the subject will fit on the sheet. He recommends using the head height, starting with a simple oval shape, as the basic unit of measurement to apply to other elements. For example, the overall person length may be 4 or 5 times the head height. Lengths can be based on a pencil held at arms length. Angles can also be reproduced by holding a pencil aligned with limbs or body. It is important to angle the paper at the subject, on a board held nearly vertical to avoid perspective errors stretching the drawing. The closer limbs are often longer than expected, if drawn correctly.
Once the subject has been lightly sketched, the angles and measurement should be checked. It is also useful to check vertical alignments of different parts of the drawing and a final check that the drawing looks right by walking away and coming back to the work with a mind clear of any incorrect imprint. The grays and darks can then be shaded to bring out the third dimension and detail added.
After a quick drink of tea, members then produced quick sketches, with advice from Richard. The model was very good at choosing an interesting pose and holding it, the varied drawings arising from the members’ seating positions.
Richard Squire demonstrated his approach to life drawing. First he establishes the overall shape enclosing the subject so that it will fit the paper. The head “oval” is then drawn to establish a basic component. The body proportions can then be related to multiples of the head height or width using a pencil at arms length. The angles of the body and limbs can be established with an angled pencil and marked in light pencil. When the basic shape has been established it can be compared with the subject. The detail can then be drawn without having to adjust for mistakes in the initial drawing layout.
Members’ Life Drawings Initial sketches at the end of the short evening session, showing successful proportions.
Nine members of the Art Club and friends from Kent attended a challenging watercolour workshop led by Paul Talbot-Greaves, who attempted to free up our painting styles. Paul has written extensively about watercolour painting and runs courses and workshops throughout the UK. We were fortunate to have such a talented and patient tutor, who gave an excellent demonstration of a very loose style of landscape painting, which inspired us to have a go ourselves. Paul’s excellent advice and encouragement helped us all to become ‘loose women!’