Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Face Practice with Prompts

A couple weeks ago, I learned about Galia Alena’s blog where she was hosting a 30 Faces in 30 Days Challenge. I decided to join the challenge earlier this month and started sketching faces using her prompts as inspiration.

I haven’t been able to sketch a face every day. Which means I’m taking to heart the second “guideline” for this challenge:

If a face a day is too much for you, don’t let that stop you, do what feels right for you– we’d love you to play along in whatever way feels right to you.

I like that type of guideline. So for me this may be a 30+ day challenge.

I’m committed to finishing this challenge. Regardless of how many days it takes. Because I usually don’t make it to the end and typically drop out or stop participating somewhere along the way.

Right now I’m using my larger sketchbook to create these pieces. Most take about an hour to complete.

Day One: Drips and Splashes

The first piece was created on a piece of pre-splattered, painted paper that was leftover from a previous workshop. I was trying to emulate what I created in one of Gillian’s classes. That attempt, below, kind of failed.

Day1_DripsandSplashes1

I wanted to try this prompt again and decided to move on to my sketchbook. I used a black ink wash to create the background. Once that dried, Conte pastel pencil, white ink, black ink, and thinned acrylic paint were used to create the face.

Day1_DripsandSplashes2

Day Two: Dream

I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to create for this prompt. I kept seeing an image of a face with closed eyes. Paint, paper, ink, Caran d’Arche crayons, and oil pastels were used.

Day2_Dream

Day Three: Text

I woke up on Saturday morning with this prompt knocking around in my head. I immediately envisioned a background with words. Before sitting down to create this piece, I burned some sage in my studio, closed my eyes, and meditated on the word “text.”

I asked my creative guides to join me and pulled out a couple pictures to use as a reference. During the process I was inspired to use the strands of her hair as lines for writing more text.

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Day Four: Wing

Up to this point, I’ve been stuck on putting circles on the cheeks and noses of these pieces. I have no idea why. Maybe “stuck” isn’t the right word because I’m just following my intuition when sketching these pieces.

That, however, ended (for now) with the day four prompt.

I followed the same preparation process before sketching; burn sage, meditate, and ask for guidance. The piece came together almost effortlessly. Sometimes I continue to surprise myself.

Day4_Wing

This piece was created with graphite pencil and charcoal pencil. Red Conte pastel pencil adds a pop of color. Silver oil pastel was also used on the feathers of her wing.

This is my favorite piece thus far.


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Looking Backwards, Moving Forward

In Gillian’s online class, Drawn to Expression, we created a lot of studies. This was new for me. I’ve sketched rough ideas that may or may not turn into a finished piece. But I never created multiple studies of an object or a portrait or a landscape. I definitely see the benefit in this approach.

One aspect of creating the various studies was returning to a particular piece, usually one that was not “precious” or complete, and reworking it. It’s kind of like a do-over. Can you take a “meh” or “blech” piece and make it more appealing? Pretty or beautiful, perhaps? Or, do you push it too far and turn it to mud? (Another lesson in itself for sure.)

I’ve started to think of this as looking backwards to move forward. Here is what I mean.

One Minute Sketches

Early in the class, we created one minute sketches. It was a good way to warm up the memory yarn. These were definitely NOT precious sketches.

Day2.1minutesketches

Here I was learning how to use charcoal, understanding its quirks. These faces aren’t pretty and look quite rough. Returning to this sketch, and without a time limit, I used techniques Gillian taught to redo the faces. Were there characteristics I wanted to emphasize? How could I make the face more expressive?

Going from before to after often involved erasing some portion (or perhaps a lot) of the sketch or maybe using white charcoal or white pastel to obliterate some features.

20 Minute Sketch

It was fun to rework the one minute sketches. Though the size of each face was a bit constraining. So I decided to move on to a larger sketch.

Here is the before image. I got a little carried away with the graphite powder. It’s not a bad sketch. It’s not terribly expressive or loose in the use of lines.

Day2.20minutesketchB

And here is the re-worked sketch.

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A lot of erasing, more graphite in other areas, and the addition of blue Conte pastel pencil turned him into a “sentimental gentleman.” (The Red Hot Chili Peppers “Show Me Your Soul” happened to be playing in the studio while I was working on this sketch.)

Family Gets a Do-Over

As happens now and again, I did not get into the studio for more than a week. I felt very out of practice, as if I’d forgotten how to draw. Of course, the best way to get back into the swing of things is to start drawing again. I had been working on a mixed media piece and decided to use the “family” in that piece for my sketching practice.

Here is how my face sketches looked after not being in the studio for more than a week.

Day2ReworkingStudiesFamilyof3_B4

Okay. Maybe they aren’t that bad. I’m amused, however, at how easy it is to revert back to “stiff” lines and wacky proportions. Ironically, the male faces were a bit easier to sketch than the female face. It’s usually the other way around for me because I rarely sketch male faces.

Fortunately, sketching is almost like getting back onto a bike after not riding for a while. Almost.

Here is the family of three after getting a do-over.

Day2ReworkingStudiesFamilyof3_2

All this looking backwards in order to move forward is a great way to document your progress. It helps train your eye to look for what worked and what didn’t work in the study pieces. That, in turn, helps you to create a more finished piece.


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Mixed Up Inky Portraits

I’ve fallen behind with my blog posts. Again. Blah. Blah. Blah. I think it’s that perfectionist critic whining in my ear. Rambling on about how dedicated I used to be posting new blog entries. Keeping up with my art. Etc. Etc. Etc.

So, to keep the little bugger quiet, I’m sharing four mixed up inky portraits that I created a while back during the “Drawn to Expression” workshop.

The idea here was to saturate watercolor paper first with water, then add blobs of ink or watered down paint. While the paper was wet, lines are added to create faces. Black and white portraits were used for reference images.

I did not like these pieces when I first started on them. So I walked away and left them for about a week. When I felt ready to work on these pieces again, I kept the paper relatively dry and added water selectively.

The end result is something I’m much happier with. Materials used include inks, thin acrylic paint, graphite pencil, Marks-all pencil, white pastel.

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