Since the end of Holidays in Ink, everybody has been asking me, "What's Next?" My friend Melissa Fischer came up with an idea for us to do February Faces and Figures, so I'm in! Are you? There are still a few days to get yourself into gear for this next challenge.
It's hard to set general guidelines for this topic. Those who go to life drawing sessions, either virtual or in person, will be doing as many as 20 or so sketches in a session. Those who are oil painting may spend days on a single piece, or the whole month on a massive, intricate painting. So, make this project your own. Work at it every day, whether that means five in one day, or one in five days, with the goal of improving your skills at drawing/painting faces and figures. Tick your project days off on your calendar to have the satisfaction of completing the challenge for the day, even if you have to continue the piece at another time. And don't count the 20 life drawings from a single session as more than one day, unless you're going back and reworking/finishing the drawings on other days! If you're tight for time, do a quick sketch or two. Those are great practice as well. All you really need for February Faces & Figures is a pencil and some paper!
What do I plan to do? Well, anything from monoprints to gel plate printing, oil and acrylic painting, charcoal, pastel, gouache, watercolor, maybe some colored pencil, water soluble crayons and pencils, paint markers, sumi inks, plus some quick fountain pen ink or marker sketches on busy days. Following the six weeks of Holidays in Ink, I'm desperate for a paint and color mixing fix, and I don't want to be tied to a single material. I probably won't get to all of those mediums, but I've prepped a lot of surfaces for different things in order to have options, and plan to do whatever moves me at the moment. Suggestion: if you also plan to go the multi media route, set up your materials and reference each evening for the next day. It's time consuming and frustrating to lose all that time in the morning, and it leaves you with less time for art. You always have the right to change your mind in the morning!
Sticking to one medium the entire month instead is also a great way to move forward in skill and do this challenge. If I hadn't just spent six weeks working in ink, I might be more tempted to stick with just one drawing medium and one painting medium.
My favorite Figure/Portrait drawing books:
If you're new to portrait and figure drawing, or haven't done any for a long time, you may want a book reference to help you brush up. I have so many portrait/figure books on my shelves, but these are the ones I return to again and again. (Disclaimer: These are Amazon Affiliate links, which provide a small commission to me should you decide to purchase, at no additional expense to you.)
- Andrew Loomis, Figure Drawing for All It's Worth - This book remains The Gold Standard of figure drawing books!
- Jack Hamm, Drawing the Head and Figure -- Wonderful for developing a process for quick linework and understanding expression. (Note: There is a less expensive version of this book which was independently published, but it's smaller and with inferior printing than this version.)
- Walt Reed, The Figure
A Few Reference and Instructional Suggestions:
- Work from the Masters. Go to the library, or search online and spend some time copying and making note of what others have done so successfully before. There is much to learn this way! After copying what they have done, find a way to use something you've learned from them while creating your own art.
- Two great online resources are Line of Action and Quick Poses. They have timed poses that can simulate a life drawing experience, and some instructional content too.
- Pausing and sketching from television and movies is lots of fun, and great for practice purposes. You can do screen captures of faces with dramatic lighting, or beautiful costumes, and work on your favorite characters.
- Watching the news - The cameras are continually returning to the same faces, so you can start a page of them and jump around as the camera moves back and forth between the anchors. (Turn off the sound if you can't stand the news, and just focus on the faces!)
- Family members reading, working, or watching TV provide good models for work from life during these pandemic times.
- Stan Prokopenko's website (https://www.proko.com) and YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/ProkoTV) provide wonderful tutorials.
- Alphonso Dunn's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoBapgfK_m6G7airg1rdn8w
- Cesar Santos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/CesarSantosArt
There are so many great websites and videos out there; just do a search and you'll find exactly what you're looking for. If you've got some great reference ideas to share, please add them to the comment section below.
Learn something new.
Are you "in" for February Faces & Figures?
If you haven't seen the flip-through of my recent Holidays in Ink sketchbook (January 2022), you can find it here on YouTube.
Last year's Holidays in Ink art journal flip-through (January 2021) can be found at this link. This sketchbook won First Prize for artwork done during the pandemic at the Putnam Arts Council show.