|Portrait Practice #13 on Park Joo-Mi|
Yet another self imposed albeit non-arbitrary condition I attach to every practice piece is to, whenever possible, incorporate new techniques or approaches to portrait drawing. In this case, the number of things I did differently from before were threefold:
(a) Using an inclined drawing table - for better facial proportions when drawing;
(b) Using sharpened pencils when shading skin - for better control of tonal transitions; and
(c) Using a combination of camel hair brush, paper stump and soft tissue - for smoother blending.
|Reference photo of Park Joo-Mi|
Trying these new approaches has brought me closer to realising my goal of drawing realistic portraits. A small step granted but a step forward nonetheless. Using the inclined drafting table has definitely improved my sense of facial proportions. However, I haven't quite got a handle on getting an accurate likeness. For instance, the margin for error seems awfully small to me. Even slight differences in tonal value - sometimes deviations of just a few millimetres of graphite shading - can cause the portrait to look noticeably distinct from the subject matter that I want to portray through graphite.
|Blending graphite using soft tissue, paper stumps and camel hair|
|Using an inclined drafting table to obtain better proportions when drawing|
Among the things I am happy with are successfully replicating the shirt's chequered texture as well as achieving much smoother skin tone transitions. For the former, I'm glad I didn't chicken out and draw a plain white shirt which was what I initially planned to do. Completing the chequered shirt was a real confidence booster because before the attempt I honestly believed there was no way I could do it. For the latter, I'm slowly approaching a level of smoothness in skin tone that I believe will be the best I can achieve using a 160 g/m² student grade paper. Ideally, I would love to work with Bristol paper. From what I understand, certain Bristol papers are good for achieving smooth blends with graphite.
|Portrait Practice #13 (Park Joo Mi) - comparison between reference photo and graphite drawing|
Each new drawing I finish always results in cringe-worthy reactions to my previous drawings. But this is a good thing as it means I'm able to spot my previous mistakes; some of them anyway. Hopefully a day will come when I can look at my drawings and be genuinely satisfied with what I put on paper. Chasing the rainbow for the proverbial pot of gold ... who knows, I might just find it.