More is Not Always Better

More is Not Always Better

As many of my readers know, I just started teaching my very first drawing class at my studio this week. I created a 5-session course to help beginning artists learn skills that will help them create realistic, detailed portraits they can be proud of. Since I normally am a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” kind of guy, I figured I would do better and create an intricate, elaborate lesson plan with 50-some drawing exercises (a little exaggeration) and that the students could knock them out in about 10-15 minutes. No problem, right? Man, I am glad I only had one student. It took me and and my student way, way longer to do these exercises than I had anticipated. We had 5 exercises planned for the first two-hour session and only got the second one partway done! Time to regroup. Instead of trying to create several mediocre drawings, I am now shooting for the students in my class–well, in this case, one–to create just two really great drawings. And I”ll teach him every trick I know. But so far, my student Tim, who is a professional taxidermist (you need some art skills to paint fish and deer mounts) did a good job on his first portrait attempt, based off a photo of young woman. Here it is in progress, after a little over an hour’s work. Not bad! We start by using the grid method to gain proficiency in drawing what you actually see instead of what you think you see. Did you know Michaelangelo used this method to sketch in the composition for the Sistine Chapel? If it was good enough for...
A Few Simple Tips to Draw Better Portraits

A Few Simple Tips to Draw Better Portraits

People are one of the most challenging things for an artist to draw. To capture the unique appearance and personality of a person by using the right lines and shading takes patience and practice. Even as a professional portrait artist who loves his craft, sometimes after drawing dozens of faces a day at live events, it would be much easier to draw the tree behind the person sitting in front of me! From childhood, we learn to draw people a certain way, an expected way. But it is not the most realistic way. Far from it. Here is a picture of how most of us learn to draw people.   Even if you are not an artist, I’m sure you can tell this isn’t a very good drawing. I can say that freely, because I’m the artist who did it! Here we have the eyes, with extra long cartoony eyelashes at the top of the head, an inverted “L” for a nose, and a funky-looking mouth. Probably the biggest mistake people make when trying to draw a face is putting the eyes at the top of the head. Actually eyes are somewhere in the middle. Next, the nose is best drawn by observing the contours of the nostrils and the thickness of the nose bridge and drawing those lines instead. Finally, the mouth, especially when smiling, needs the cheekbones and wrinkles, along with squinting eyes to give the appearance of actually smiling.   Here is that same face, drawn with more lifelike proportions and shapes. To draw realistically, you have to strive to draw what you see instead of...
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