Portrait class – ‘Dawn’

A couple of my art classes are learning portraiture at the moment, and last Thursday a friend and colleague from Halton Mill came to model for my evening class. This was the first time that some people had ever tried to draw a person. I have been really impressed by their work. Here are a few of their charcoal drawings, as well as my quick watercolour study.

I think that drawing a portrait really is one of the most difficult things to do. Tackling a drawing of a person often means overcoming considerable anxiety. You also need to override your brain ‘helpfully’ telling you how a face goes, and learn to draw what you actually see in front of you. As with any other subject, be it still life or landscape or whatever, a face is, for the purposes of drawing, a collection of shapes of light and dark. I find that deeply contrasting light makes tackling a portrait easier, as you can more easily identify the shapes of the shadows and highlights. Also, the less you can see, the less you need to put in! So evening is an ideal time to have a go at drawing someone. I turned off the lights and Dawn was almost completely in shadow, with only the left side of her face lit up by a lamp.