Friday, September 2, 2011

Preliminary Sketches Help Develop Form & Personality

When you start a project, especially a portrait, it’s almost a given that you’ll “play” awhile with pencil or charcoal until you get the feel of the person. Once you’ve done that, it’s easier to get down to the real business of drawing and painting. It’s the best way I know of to chart angles, curves and connecting points.

The "preliminary" sketch above was done while working on a "commission" project. Unfortunately the digital drawings, my record (three total; kids together, and one each separately), was lost on my old computer that died. The clients were happy with their three drawings which they framed, and that's what counts!

Some people use the grid method and draw from photographs, others start fresh and see how accurate they can come. I prefer to do this in the beginning. Then I place a piece of tracing paper over my image and see how close I’ve come to the exact photographic image. I find the more skill I develop, the closer I get to capturing likeness.

Sometimes I like to do action sketches to see if I can get the arms and legs in unusual angles or with foreshortening. I like a challenge. I like to see if the finished drawing actually looks as if it’s moving.

Trying to sketch members of your own family, although convenient, is a trying experience. Take my husband, an unwilling model. He doesn’t sit still long enough to capture him in a pose. I tried it once, but the image was a little off. I think he doesn’t take it seriously, or watching golf T.V. is too distracting. I did one sketch from a photo, but I think the “live” sketches capture more of his personality.

The sketch of my daughter was the first "preliminary" I did of her before I developed the final drawing for “Mother and Child” that appears on an earlier blog and on my artist website at

In the beginning, sketches may look like child’s play. But keep at it, and before you know it those lines and circles on your paper begin to take shape.

Now a word about A wonderful link to belong to with many professional groups, discussions and art communities. If you don’t belong, please check it out!

I am involved in several discussions and have learned a great deal about marketing, attitude, opportunities for career development, and what’s “hot” in the art world.