Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sketching People and the Problems They Create

This post is about my adventure in sketching people over my blogging break.

Recently I've been wrestling with what directions to pursue in my art. For as long as I remember, I've wanted to be a portrait painter...a bit like that childhood dream that you just never let go of. As I grew up I made career choices that were more stable...I was a software engineer for many years. Then I "retired" from the software industry and began a new career as a mother. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job with lots of overtime :D, but I have also found time to pursue my artwork. As I have done that, I have drifted from people as subject matter. Recently I've been struggling with that drift. On my break I didn't really solve this question, but I did find out some interesting things.

Problems With Sketching People That I Solved
Comfort Level. As I sketched people more and more on my break, I got more comfortable drawing people from life. I can't even say that I greatly improved, it was just easier to choose an unusual position and draw it.
Desire. I found I am still fascinated with people. Although I didn't draw any portraits, only figures, I did find myself staring at several faces and wishing that I could draw them.
Habits. Ever since I was a child I have marveled at the "eyes are the window of the soul" concept. I have always wondered what a person's eyes, nose, hands, feet, etc "said" about them and tested that against what I knew about them. This "habit" of mine shows no sign of abating. Whether or not our physical features say anything true about us or not, I have a great fascination with people and their features.

New Problems
Paper Fright.
When I had an audience, I froze up and it went horribly wrong. This happened to me on the beach and in an airplane. Once people shifted and I knew they were watching what I did, I just couldn't clear my mind and focus. This is a serious weakness for an artist wanting to draw people from life!
Differences in Portraits and Figures. As I mentioned before I mostly sketched figures on this trip and I enjoyed it. However, that is not the same as a portrait, and it is the personal characteristics of the portrait that fascinate me. It's a bit like the difference between painting a landscape and painting a flower in macro.

What I Take From All This
I carry on. The path I'm on now is a good one, I'm excited about the plans I have made. And as I progress through them I will add in new goals relating to portraiture. Part of being an artist is enjoying the journey for the journey's sake - not just being able to draw/paint something exactly as you want it.


Jeanette said...

These are fabulous sketches Rose and they show you can capture line efficiently and not get lost in detail too early.

Portraits are a favourite of mine as well and it does take time to become comfortable in drawing people and very familiar with the anatomy that makes up the face.

Keep sketching people, you're doing fine!

Teresa said...

Nice to have you back! Missed your posts. Sounds like your break was fun and beneficial.

Rose Welty said...

Thanks Jeanette for your encouragement...I love your portraits, some day!

Thanks Teresa, it was a good break.

Stacy said...

Rose, I didn't know you were a software engineer. I was a chemical engineer before kids so I always enjoy meeting other engineers (or scientific types) turned artists.

I can already see improvement in your peope sketches. Keep up the sketching and you will be living that childhood dream before you know it!

Sitting Pretty Studio said...

I just found your blog and wanted to say HI! I've been a portrait painter for over 6 years, but I paint mainly children and pets so I've always used photographs to paint from. Good luck on your art journey!

Rose Welty said...

Stacy and Sitting Pretty, thanks for the encouragement!