Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One of my favorite places to sketch after hours is Au Coquelet on University and Milvia in Berkeley, California. During this session, I gave myself the challenge of inventing 24 women's heads using Prismacolor markers for the grays, and a couple of Fabler-Castell black drawing pens. The process was to start with a grid of very fast and faint gray scribbles to define the shape of the face and head. Sometimes these exercises drive themselves in random and unexpected ways. I may never know if it's possible to do something that is truly random and generated from my own imagination. Influences seem to linger from the day's events, or even an occasional quick glance at a passerby on her way to the rest room.

Head shapes fascinate me, along with how they relate to hairstyles and facial features. Over a year ago I took to one of Barbara Bradley's suggested methods for capturing a likeness from life with a quick sketch, whereby the overall shape or silhouette is captured first, followed by interior shapes and details. Without a living model, I found that just the suggestion of a skull was enough to start the series.

I then proceeded to add darker grays (20%-50%) to further define the structure of the heads and hair. Eye sockets, the shadow cast by the base of the nose, and other important changes in plane and surface landmarks were established at this phase. I also did my best to suggest a light source to further sculpt the sketch and ground it in space. A final pass with a 70% gray marker and my black pens was used to finish each sketch. These will be used as part of yet another series of studies using Painter 11's gouache brush category and a limited color palette.

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