This month's guest post is by Kerra Lindsey. Kerra is an established portrait artist but I came across her work through Greeting Card Universe and she also uses her art to creat delightful products on Zazzle. You can browse Kerra's portfolio on her website and read more about her on her blog.
Here she shares with us some practical ideas for improving our drawing for portraits:
You don't want me to say it but I'm going to anyway: draw, draw, draw! That's right--you want to be an impressive painter? Learn to draw first--then practice until, well, your hands stop working. Portrait painting can be unlike painting anything else--you may be going for a 'figurative' look and be satisfied with that--but if you want the piece to be recognizable, you're going to have move past the 'blocking' stage and get to the details. Here's a great way to get geared up to do just that!
Sick of your pencil? Not to worry--there is a way to draw with your paintbrush, too! Not as easy to carry, and yes, you've got to have some water and a few other tools nearby, but the experience can help you move forward and avoid the 'boring' factor of repetitive lines.
Here's an exercise I've used with some of my students as a warm up in our 'drawing class'. It brought about
smiles and enthusiasm for the piece we were working on and forewent the 'sigh' of pulling out the pencils. We used watercolor to sketch and draw with. The results were more than impressive!
I have found that negative drawing works wonders for getting your brain in the correct 'art mode', and I encourage such with my students to find the negative spaces and concentrate on them. I try to follow a path of continuously smaller shapes and values paying close attention to how they interact with each other.
Here's a tip:
If you find you are getting 'stuck' on a certain area stop yourself. Focus your brain on the activity at hand--the negative shapes, and the feel of the brush in your hand as you trace your shapes from your object onto the paper. Start with thin washes and increase the pigment as you get closer to the details.