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  • Writer's pictureHilda Van Netten

Portrait Workshop

Some of my art students have been wanting a portrait workshop. They feel like they learned how to draw from my drawing workshop, but drawing a portrait has been a challenge. Because we are now able to have small gatherings outdoors, we spent three hours last Wednesday and three hours this Wednesday morning. Drawing outdoors in a slightly windy day, on lawn chairs and following the shade around the yard does not make for an ideal setup. That being said, I am very happy with the progress all three of these artists made in such a short time.

In week one, we focused on learning to see lines and shapes and negative space, etc. We spent some time doing blind contour portraits of each other, and drawing various eye shapes. They were acquiring building blocks to work on actual portraits today.

I think it is easier to start with drawing from a reference photo to get some of the concepts internalized before working from a live model. They learned to put some fine lines on the page early on to indicate the centre line from the bridge of the nose to the centre of the mouth.... for various views. They also faintly sketched lines from eye to eye and where the mouth would go, etc.

We started with a profile view and the next one was a ¾ view, both good places to start because the logical part of the artists' brains would be confused by them and the spacial part would take over and control the drawing. If you start with a straight on view, it's easy to revert to drawing like you always did and not really seeing things correctly.

Three different artist..... the same reference images...

..... three different styles of drawing. Love it.

At the beginning of the first workshop, everyone sat in front of a mirror and sketched a self portrait. Then, at the end of today's workshop they did the same thing. Improvements were clear to see. These sketches took only 15 minutes. Imagine what this artist can do if she had two hours.

Interesting note: the artist below was struggling to get a likeness in her self portraits. Then, only minutes later, something clicked. She threw caution to the wind (probably because there was only a short time to go) and sketched the gentleman on the right in no time at all and did a great job! She had been plateauing and just leaped ahead in her skill level.

The before and after images below are so interesting to me. They both have the same lean to the head and vague similarities. So many skills were internalized to figure out the second try. She's on her way to being a great portrait artist.

In the fall, I hope to be able to offer classes in my new art studio in our home. Classes at The Painted Tree art store in Cobourg will no longer be happening for anyone as the space has been turned into a framing studio. When we are allowed to safely gather in a closed space, I'll advertise whatever classes and workshops available at my home.

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