Strathmore 2013 online workshop, Week 2

May 21, 2013

practice 5 viking foundation

Every May I register for the free, online workshops run by Strathmore, the American paper company. This year, it’s focus is on traditional, realistic, representational sketching and drawing, with four video lectures by Stephen Cefalo who specialises in the portrait and the figure. He deploys a very light, mechanistic pencil technique, which I personally find difficult, and he’s working on toned paper. Unless you’re making your own, which is entirely possible with gesso and acrylic paint, for example, toned paper is not all that widely available, especially for drawing. Strathmore puts out a Toned Tan and a Toned Gray, which I’m using this month because its tooth is better than some others, including kraft paper, which I have to hand.

Cefalo in Week 1 talked about the nature of light and shadow and the umpteen words used in sketching and drawing to describe them.

Week 2 was devoted to the portrait and because it’s an online workshop, he gave us a striking close-up photo of a bearded man in a leather hat, looking all the world like a modern-day Viking.

My first sketch was the foundation of the skull and I drew it in a C5 sized spiral-bound Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook. I felt immediately cramped by its size for the pencil technique required, so quickly upgraded to the American large size, 9″x12″.

practice 6 viking on toned gray 9x12

Here’s my first pass at the “Viking”. The pencil linework is still very raggedy and I need to come back again and attempt a more detailed version of the beard, for example. The eyes aren’t so bad but the bridge of the nose is incorrect. It would be fun too to try and re-create more carefully the nature of the hand-stitched leather hat.

practice #7 facial features

I thought it worthwhile going back again aiming for greater accuracy in the facial features. Cefalo has made it easy for students by giving us just eyes and nose surrounded by a great mass of white beard. A more difficult subject would be a “fuller” skull including all the other bits and pieces of the typical portrait – ears, mouth, etc. Here;’s mine again, done small, on a C5 Toned Tan. I am not trying to replicate the darkest darks of the (very dark) photo. I just wanted to get the nose right today, but moving to the eyes, I made them too large, so I need to do this again getting the nose-eyes proportions a whole lot better!


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