Drawing Demo: Portrait of Sarai

In addition to putting together my recent show and going to Penland, I've also continued going to life drawing sessions at the fabulous local studio, Atwood Atelier.

Here's a look at my process for painting/drawing a portrait from life. I worked on this portrait for about 3.5 hours from start to finish.

Like most of my recent work, I did this on UArt 800-grit sanded paper. I LOVE sanded paper for pastels, and UArt is my go-to because it works well and is reasonably priced.

I do the initial drawing in graphite. I spend a good amount of time at this stage, measuring distances, checking and proportions, and making corrections. I want to get as much of the structure of the face in place as I can, so that I don't have to make as many corrections later.

Then, I lay in the main areas of color, focusing on the broad values--the darks, highlights, and mid-tones.

Next, I basically work on refining things, adding in more details, modulating the values...and fixing anything I messed up in the laying-in stage.

Then I focus on the hair, adding more layers of black to smooth it out, plus highlights to suggest texture.

Finally, I add in her shirt to ground her, so she's not just a floating head. There's a bit more work to do on this before I call it finished, but I'm pretty happy the skin tones and facial features. So often, I try to get to the whole figure when I'm working from life (even for "portrait" models who are clothed, rather than just with nude figure models). I especially like including the hands whenever I can. However, it's always rewarding to work on a true portrait--it gives me the time (not to mention space on the paper) to really focus on facial features and the expression, which I enjoyed with this pose.