Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Portrait Drawing Class with Lisa Semerad I

"Male Head" (graphite)

This summer I started my own portrait/figure drawing program at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA, not to become a portrait painter, but to become a better painter.  The first class I chose is Lisa Semerad 's portrait drawing class.  I took the same class long time ago; I don't remember how much I learned at that time.  Now I am soaking up Lisa's instructions like a sponge, perhaps because I have since become a better artist.

The class runs for four weeks; we meet twice a week for three hours each.  We are now into the third week.  The first two drawings from cast heads were done Tuesday last week.  We were supposed to go through 20 steps mentally each time we worked on a drawing, starting with an eggy oval shape all the way to simple horizontal/vertical planes for light/dark patterns.  I kept messing up the steps out of panic!  Lisa never gives enough time!

"Female Head" (graphite)

Last Thursday we moved on to Conte crayons with the focus on different head shapes.  We modeled, taking turns--lots of fun!  (No, we didn't pose naked.)   I titled the following two drawings "Cleopatra" and "Chinese Empress," inspired by the noble demeanor of the African-American and Asian fellow students.

"Cleopatra" (conte crayon)

"Chinese Empress" (conte crayon)

Yesterday's lesson was blocking (or modeling).  After toning the paper with pastel, we lightly established the shapes within the head.  With a kneaded eraser, we then  restored the light shapes.  We continued to refine features, with an ever light touch.  Finally, we introduced white chalk and darker color pastel to give the drawing more definition and punch.  As I joked in class, watching Lisa doing a 30-minute demo had given us a false sense of confidence; boy, it was hard to manipulate a kneaded eraser or use a darker color without messing up!  

Lisa Semerad doing a demo

"Male Head in Terracotta" (Nupastel)

"Female Head in Blue" (Nupastel)

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