In May and June, I had the chance to take a portrait drawing class at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago - (my photo is even part of the rotating carousel up top!) I've taken several of their continuing studies classes over the last year, and it's really helped me make some good progress with my drawing skills.
I missed the last day of class - I was in Williamsburg with my family, and since that class was the critique, I thought I'd do my own online critique.
FYI, for this class, the teacher didn't use any kind of face mapping - it was all about drawing strictly from observation and relative placement (she said that face mapping tends to lead to faces that look stylized - I hadn't thought about it, but I guess that's true! Not that I still won't be using it as a tool from time to time.) So for this class, no face mapping!
In chronological order, here are seven photos of some of my work throughout the five weeks.
First: charcoal on regular drawing paper, 10-minute pose. My critique: not bad for a first week - I did okay with the angle, gestures could use a little work, but overall okay.
Second: Charcoal on Rives BFK, 5-15 minute poses, focus on gesture and value drawing. Critique: already better than last week. Focusing on values really helped me get a better grip on defining features and getting it to look right.
Third: graphite on Rives BFK, 10-15 minute poses, emphasis on mark making. Critique: one of my favorite pieces of work from the class. Fun technique, I really started getting the hang of it, continued improvement, and it looked like the model!
Fourth: charcoal on Rives BFK, 10 minute poses, focus on gesture, line, value (this week the model didn't show up so we all took turns posing. These are of another student and the professor.) Critique: the one on the left especially shows continued improvement (looked almost just like her!) In the second one, also a good resemblance, and I got the feeling of the gesture, even if the hair needs serious work.
Fifth: Charcoal on Rives BFK, 15-20 minute pose(?) Critique: proportions still need a bit of work, but the eyes came out pretty well.
Sixth: charcoal and hard pastels on Rives BFK - 50 minute pose. Critique: huge improvement! I think the shading and proportions are all good, eye and ear especially came out well.
Seventh: soft pastels on Rives BFK, 50 minute pose (and yes, he was laying down.) Critique: the professor gave me a 5 minute demo on pastels, and I (she agreed) did a pretty darn good job of following the instruction. This was all done by using colors to build up values and definition - almost no line. I think proportion, features, shading all came out great.
All in all, good class. It pushed me, and it was not always comfortable or fun (I hate blind contour drawing! We did at least 5 of them every night.)
Pros of the class: it forced me to practice and do things I wouldn't do on my own and go outside of my comfort zone. I got to work with live models, and of course the benefit of a professional artist helping give you pointers is a good thing.
Cons: Two nights a week (3 hour sessions) after work for 5 weeks was too much! I don't know if I'll do that again. Not any time soon, at least.
So there you go! And now it's time for me to try and finish one of the multiple online classes I'm enrolled in :-P