I'm just about to begin another Portraiture series at the Island Art Centre, beginning Thursday 7 February and I can't wait to see all the new work we produce.
Last time I met a guy called John who's improvement continues to amaze me - check his Instagram out to see for yourself! It's pretty impressive and encouraging to see how a bit of practice and hard work pays off!
I just had to share John's work because I celebrate my students progress and successes as much, if not more than my own and feel totally giddy when you have your wins and my goodness just LOOK at this Win!! ⠀
You would barely know this was the same person drawing these two images, right?!⠀
What's the main difference between Week 1 & Week 12? Confidence.
John came in on the first day of Portrait class as a total beginner and crazy hard on himself for instantly 'not being good enough.'⠀
However, he was completely open and willing to learn, soaking in each demo and suggestion given, and I mean just look at what he's achieved from practice, perseverance, a worn off fingerprint and a small amount of guidance!
With each new drawing, we critiqued the strengths, worked on improving areas he found difficult and his confidence to work bigger, bolder and to just trust the process sky-rocketed.
Super proud tutor moment!⠀
Techically what's the main difference between Week 1 & Week 12? Values.
John began with approaching drawing in a 2D fashion which is how 90% of people begin - using outlines. However when we moved into drawing through shading and becoming brave enough to fully embrace values by putting that dark mark down, his drawings literally started to feel like they were jumping off the page.
We approached this in three stages:
We identified a realistic time frame and took the pressure off creating the perfect image and to embrace so called 'failures.'
No one is going to be a master painter/drawer overnight, it takes time, an open mind, practice and perseverance. To instead see progress, understand the positives and negatives in each piece of drawing, considering them as a stepping stone along a journey, not a destination.
We tried a few methods of observation/drawing - using general proportion guides, grids, learning to 'see' shapes and lines rather than an entire face, using measurements and diagonal/vertical lines and viewing your work with fresh eyes by photographing, turning your image upside down or using a mirror.
Next, we moved onto my favourite - values.
If you've been to my classes you will no doubt have heard me hark on and are sick of hearing me talk about values over and over again....But why is it so important?
Value deals with how light or dark something is and is used in drawing or painting to depict light and shadow.
Since we see objects and understand them because of how much light bounces off them which thereby determines how dark or light they are, getting to grips with seeing and recording the value of light or dark is paramount.
Adding the right value on your drawing creates depth, perspective and shape. - effectively it makes your 2-D drawing appear 3-D. So if you want to improve your painting or drawing start really trying to observe the subtle shifts between values on your images.
You can do this with a simple 'Plot the Value' exercise:
Imagine the lightest light being a value of 0 (this would be your highlights), the darkest dark as a value of 6 (the darkest dark) and value 3 being right slam bang in the middle.
Values 1 and 2 will be pretty light but will increase incrementally in darkness until you reach number 3. Values 4 and 5 a fair bit darker than 1 and 2 and will keep increasing in darkness until you reach 6.
Now print out a black and white image, get a pen and plot your value numbers from 0-6 trying to establish each value change in your image [pictured above].
Completing this simple exercise will help you start to analyse images and begin to train your eye to notice the subtle changes in value from one area to another. or if you like, I've a FREE Guide that explores Values in more depth with example images you can work on - just click the 'Understanding Values' Guide below:
P.S If you're considering joining the next Portraiture course I'm running at the Island Art Centre, you can book your space via telephone on 028 9250 9509.
To learn more, visit the Island Art Centre Website.