Portrait of N. in Prismacolor

Back in the 90’s my main media was color pencil. I have done portraits since I was a teen. My main focus was understanding expression, if I could feel what the person in front of me was communicating through microexpressions, gesture, the way they glanced at things, the assymetry of the face -that is a result of a recurrent emotion-… the face would become a story that unveils in front of one’s eyes. 

The story speaks about a fire inside, a flame, the longing for something. When a person smiles often, the emotion becomes imprinted even when they are not smiling. In youth, this fire is intense and it glows. In adulthood, the most common emotions have created distinct marks, cues, a wrinkle here and there.

 Every face has it’s beauty, as it has the spark of life in it. One’s role is find the “constellation” which is basically the process of understanding what makes it unique, distinct. It’s not exactly making a replica of it but to find the “points” that can be  exaggerated to achieve the likeness. The funny thing is that if you look at the specific eye or nose or hair strand you realize it’s just enough close to the original subject but it’s not a visual replica, yet it has the effect of the sum of the parts. 

That is exactly my goal, that is not a photographic likeness but it is a likeness to the “real” feel of that person. One that they recognize and say “yes, I see myself in this portrait” 

For the portrait of N the intent was to attain the expression, yet also to practice blending and bring back my old medium (prismacolor); 20 years of portraiture in different mediums. Going back to my basics feels like when you have taken a long journey and then revisit your hometown remembering places, and you find yourself walking and recalling more and more… your memories come back, muscle memory as well. How to blend, how to use the tooth of the paper and the direction of the grain, how to hold the pencil and do layering. 

For this portrait I used the Stillman and Birn beta series. The texture is rough, which allows me to create texture to the skin, what would be an equivalent to pores. As this is a 9″ x  12″ sketchbook the effect is more visible. For a full scale realistic portrait I would use the art paper 22″ x 30″ working in bigger dimension woul bring the pores effect to a more realistic scale. This drawing is more of a study to see how it takes the layering proces and I see the potential to take more abuse without breaking the grain or tearing.  Erasing ocassionally and recoloring could cause that if the paper is too thin. I got impatient with this sketch, I spent significant time on the eyes  area and less on the hair and neck but I see the possibilities now. I got over excited to finish it. On the next one I’ll put in more time.

I Welcome back my old boxes of colors, that have kept very well by the way. I have a complete set of Spectracolors which is a brand that doesn’t exist anymore, they complement my prismacolors in range. The Spectracolors had the property of being dust free and become more vibrant with more pressure in the paper. It has a satin feel to it. It’s time to get out of that box after being dormant for so long, let’s get to work! I think after many years I must have learn a thing or two that I can do different today to make it better, and to perhaps achieve the elusive goal of  “perfect portrait” one day…Not yet…!

Pen and Ink Portraits November

Portraits it’s my favourite subject. I have found a lot of inspiration in images from the SKCHY app community.

These portraits take from 20 to 40 min and are all done with a Lamy Pen, a pen and nib holder for the heavier lines, and the Pentel Brush on Stillman and Birn paper, Beta series.

I’m trying to be more defined by investing more time in detail. From the begining I set my mind in how much time I want to spend on the sketch. Then I draw my lines accordingly slowing down or taking time with the strokes. There is a significant difference between short or longer sketches. I always aim for the sketch to “feel” complete so when i work I work all over, like i don’t start with an eye making it all detailed, I start with an oval shape, placing marks and looking for distinct features that makes that particular face unique, I then exaggerate a little those features and find a touch of beauty that comes naturally. There is a difference in how I see and feel a face from what I try to translate it to lines. Like having an insight on what the face expresses to me. I try to reveal those thoughts visually.

 

 

 

Botanicals

I decided to try a new subject series: Beautiful flowers, with a little more precision than my usual sketches. 

For this series, which I plan to sell as notecards I used permanent ink and some, I colored them but I prefer black and white as the watercolor hides my lines because I like to paint heavy on the tint. I’ll try to so a softer more transparent wash next time.

Yet.. I still prefer black and white illustration. 

As usual my favorite paper Stillman and Birn notebooks and Higgins permanent ink. The platinum carbon pen is the best for fine lines and it never cloggs. I am becoming very fond of sketching with nibs too.

Here the drawings: 

Game of Thrones Portraits

This week I though it’s been a while since I have done portraits, so I decided to chose a good subject, the TV series Game of Thrones. The characters are very interesting and have fascinating depth. I thought it would be fun to try to convey my understanding of the characters through expression.

For this series, I used Higgins permanent ink and Brause nibs. About 4 different nib sizes and my usual Stillman and Birn notebook, Zeta Series, excellent for ink!

I chose the first characters randomly and I enjoyed myself so much that I kept going for about three days, completing several portraits. This is the first set of the week. Each took me about 30 min.

My general process is the following:

First it’s the proportions and marks to set the placement of the features. Once that was resolved, I did a brief inking process with the finest point, and decide on the focal point,  usually it’s the eyes. The eyes and mouth are the main keys to resolve any portrait, yet every face has a distinct feature that no one else has, like a fingerprint, my goal is always to discover what makes this face unique, and then exaggerate that slightly to get the likeness. I also chose an emotion that I see is recurrent to that character.

I have done portraits for over 20 years; it is in fact my favorite subject. Facial features fascinate me, and I have discovered so much in the process of drawing them. The face is asymmetric, as we tend to do gestures with one half of the face more often than the other, this creates lines of expression that, with the years, become permanent. Half of the face has a sweeter expression than the other half. If two pictures were composed of two reflected halves from each side of the face we would see almost an entirely different person in some cases.

I keep this in mind when I draw portraits. My trick is to exaggerate that difference to get the resemblance, observing what is unique.

Actor Jason Momoa is an exception. He has an outstandingly symmetrical face. That was very interesting to me. Since I couldn’t do my usual approach I had to stop and analyzed what made his face unique. Undoubtedly he had striking features. I focused on the eyes. A very distinct shape and expression.

I started by drawing him from a high resolution photograph where I could see good detail. The facial hair that his character wears on the TV series Game of Thrones made it difficult to see the jaw line and the shape of the face clearly; I decided to transform this drawing into Khal Drogo on my own, based on several images.

In the first sketch you can see the completed sketch off the photo and the following sketch shows the final drawing where I gave myself artistic freedom to add what was needed so he could look like the character he portrays.

Materials:

Support:
Surface: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

The drawing was done on a Beta Series Notebook, wire-bound, 9″ x 12″. I always use heavy stock as I can have the option to add watercolor if I wanted to.

The paper is white yet the images were taken under a yellowish light and it looks like colored paper, but it’s not, yet, I liked how it looked.
I used permanent ink, again, just in case if I wanted to add watercolor. I always use permanent ink so it won’t run.
In the series of portraits of this particular TV show I was consistent using the same media, same paper, ink, and fine flexible nib with a short holder.

My favorite series are the Beta and Zeta, the Zeta I use when I work solely in ink; the Beta series have the extra tooth that work really well with water media without warping. This portrait was heavy on the ink, the Zeta could have take it, but I still may turn this into watercolor renderings at some point.

I made portraits of other characters as well that can be seen in my blog noted below.

Khal Drogo before and after

momoaDrogo

Jon Snow


Khalesi

Tywin Lannister

Cersei Lannister

Ramsay Bolton

Sansa Stark

No one

Arya Stark

Starbucks at Harvard Square

Urban Sketchers Boston had a meetup at Harvard Square, and the interior is so cozy and nice with a warm atmosphere. For this I used the Carbon Platinum fountain pen, the finest point I have ever seen on a fountain pen! and my favorite brand of notebooks Stillman and Birn, Zeta series, great for ink

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Cirque de Soleil

Last weekend I went to the show Kurios and it was a delightful experience! I’m a fan of steampunk and the show was very inspirational.

The action is very quick for me to capture in the detail I would like so i based my sketches in still images.

I used my favorite paper Stillman and Birn notebooks. The Zeta series are great for ink and the heavy stock can take some washes too.

The first is the comedian of the show, he was one of my favorites and the second is one of the amazing contortionists.

I really wanted to make a bit of more elaborated sketch with detail. I used the super fine platinum carbon fountain pen. The most fine line there is! I can get different thickness with it.

I used private reserve inks as well. And inexpensive bamboo brushes. I don’t like to use the same brush for both ink and watercolor i prefer to assign a use on either of the two mediums. For watercolors i use my best.

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Testing some inks

On a cold day with 3 F outside and listening to Leonard Cohen a lady dances in my head to the end of love.

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inks: purple wampin, Rome Burning, black Red and Vampire red (private reserve) and the Zebra nib on Stillman and Birn Beta series paper cut from the notebook.

The problem I have working wet media on a notebook is the stains it makes on the back of the previous page, so I tore them off and trimmed with the guillotine. This ink dries fast, though!!

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