The Pleasure in Imperfection

Summer holidays were coming to a close and I had a few days left to spend however I wanted. I’d done a couple botanical paintings early in the vacation because I just felt like doing something other than landscapes. I’ll probably go back to the botanicals after I finish a bit of drawing, which is what I want to do… now!

I’ve been pining to life draw for a while now and I knew I had some great 360 degree profile shots of a friend of mine so I cleaned my work table (!) and set up for charcoal work. If you are a Facebook friend of mine, you will know that I post these “What’s on the easel today?” pics which show the various stages of a piece I’m working on right up to the finished piece. Sometimes it feels rather self-involved but what it allows me to do is to view the work objectively as it is in progress. This is much like physically standing back and pondering it to see where to go next or viewing it backwards in a mirror. You can better see the generalities of shape, composition and value at a point when it’s easy to get lost in the details and excitement of finishing a piece. Here’s the full series of the first portrait drawing I’ve done in years:

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Progression shots of a portrait drawing.

It is not unusual for me to prefer the earlier stages of a drawing rather than the finished piece. I intend to do a series of portraits of this model from various angles so perhaps I can be self-aware enough at some point to have the finished piece contain the qualities of the mid-way work. What are those qualities?

The work at mid-way point is gestural, loose and suggestive rather than definitive. Of course, it would be great if I was able to have her whole face done at that stage and to have still retained that loose quality. That’s what I’m aiming for in the next pieces. My thought is that a series of the same person from different angles should allow me to get familiar enough with the subject to be able to focus on the treatment rather than the physical features and measurements.

I’ll post more of these drawings as they come, which may be slow because I’m back at work now so it’s evenings and weekends in the studio. I’m sure we’ll get out plein air painting here and there as well… but for now, back to work!

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