Natural Facial Beauty
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Everyone, this is my second part of my series on the Covid crisis. It is called HOW TO MAKE ART. And it’s just a lot of that free time that you’re having that you don’t know what to do with. Maybe making art is something that you would like to do. I, about three or four months ago, was starting to do, make these huge canvases for an office expansion. And there were highly abstract or I was moving more toward a representational work. And, my wife challenged me, you know, said, Hey, why don’t you do a picture of our dog Kumo and she said, you know, I’m warning you that most times it doesn’t even look like the dog or anything else. So, once I did watercolor, slightly abstracted, I started getting some confidence that I could do art.
So about three and a half months ago, I started doing more portraits. Maybe it’s my fascination with a face, since I do facial plastic surgery and hair transplant surgery. But I think it’s the highest art for me. And it’s something that I really enjoy the expression and the challenge of portraiture. So what I was wanting to do is talk to you about some pearls if you’re interested in starting to do art, you know, what things, what books or resources I’ve used to learn my way around because I simply don’t have any formal academic training. I’ve been painting abstract acrylics for about 15 years and you probably see them around my building, but portraits and a realistic representation of work I really haven’t done. So, YouTube is my friend and buying professional equipment materials is also very much important.
So, one thing I like to do is talk about some principles of if you’re going to do portraiture. Now of course you can do anything you want, but I think I want to start with that because that’s my focus of my specialty, of what I found. This a lady, Silvie Mahdal, I think S. I. L. V. I. E. M. A. H. D. A. L., I believe, on YouTube had a series on graphite pencil drawings. And if you’re interested in doing graphite pencils, definitely first buy a whole set of graphite pencils. You need to not just use one pencil, you cannot get any level of depth or color changes, which I’ll talk about in a minute. But watch her videos if you’re interested in graphite pencil. For me, I did a few graphite pencils, but I just love colors. I couldn’t go deeper into that discipline.
But with what Silvie said is that this is what blew my mind, my first outings with some watercolors that I was doing with portraits. I was outlining things and outlining things make your portraits look like cartoons. What she said is that there are no outlines or lines in nature that just blew my mind, which is so obvious in retrospect. And that changed everything of how I did things. So that’s the first thing is there are no outlines. Of course, you first have to outline, so you have the drawing accurately rendered, which is another point. But you know what is really the focus is tonal values. In other words, how dark something is in retrospect on the black to white scale. And that’s one of the reasons why if you’re going to do graphite pencil, you need all the way from, you know, two age over to six B, you know, being blacker and softer and less refined, but you need that range to create the value changes.
And if you’re doing watercolor and you like portraits, watch Stan Miller. This guy’s amazing. What a genius in terms of what he does with watercolors. And I personally love the whole set from Japan, actually order them, a whole set from eBay, 108 set of Holbein watercolors. But Stan Miller really emphasizes that when you’re doing portraits in particular, but anything that value and value defines how dark something is, how dark or light something is, is what you really want to capture. And so, looking at value is critical, not the color per se. You can have fun with the color. Even if you’re doing a portrait is what he argues. You just want to make sure the values are captured correctly. It’s funny, whenever I look at people now I’m having a conversation, I’m actually looking at their light of how light strikes their face, so interesting.
The other pearl is if you get a reference photo, if you’re not drawing from life, um, your photo must have a lot of values in it. You know, a lot if you use a washed out reference photo that has really no value to it, that you’re not going to be able to really get the dry right depth in three dimensionality of that person. You need to capture both what’s called the key shadow. You know, with the main shadow point going across as well as reflected shadow. Cause sometimes you’ll have light, either a secondary light source or a balance of light off, a background and, and those value changes in a photograph are so important. So, you have to have a great reference photo. And in that reference photo, you also don’t want the reference photo to be distorted.
Cause a lot of times iPhones and things like that, especially if they’re shot at a certain angle, may make the nose too large and then you’re going to try to render that looking realistic or correct and it’s not going to be right. So, you want it, the proportions to be correct, the lighting to be correct as I mentioned. And you also want to have the reference photo to be focused. So, a lot of times you get this really grainy photograph and you really can’t capture the details if that’s what you’re trying to achieve. So those are some basic principles. Another principle is, you know, work on the forms. So in other words, you know, before I embark on starting the painting process, I spent a long time and I’ve progressively gotten much faster now, is using a graphite pencil to draw out the basic underlying shape of the eyes, the nose, the outlines that will be covered up with the tonal values of the painting.
But don’t rush through the initial drawing, look back and forth, challenge your iron hand to look back and forth and see, you know, is the shape right, is my nose too close to the eye, and what I’ll do some time, I’ll use an iPad. I use the very large iPad, I can’t remember the dimensions of it, and I blow up the image as big as I can, and try to copy one to one for my portraits and makes it a lot easier. My mind’s eye to see something one-to-one as a reference photo. And I will try to draw that as accurately as possible, sometimes I’ve drawn half the face and I’ve got to erase the whole thing because one part the nose is slightly off to the eye and then I’ve got to redraw the whole thing all the way down to the mouth, so something is off.
So that’s so important is to really look for your proportions. And before you embark and spend that time, do you race, draw, look back and forth? Sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll hold a pencil with my finger and look at the distance for the forehead, through the nose and then the nose to the chin just to make sure it’s accurate. And the hardest thing I do is double portraits. I just finished this six by four foot, a double portrait of my parents, and very hard, I think. I think the head is slightly too big on my dad, but it’s almost expressionistic so I’m not so worried about it. But I use a pencil and I go back and forth. And it’s very hard to have a double portrait because then you’ve got to have both has proportionately correct and then they have to be proportional on the body and the proportional to the background.
So there’s all these elements that are there, and I’ve done all the different media. I’ve just had a really a big blast doing watercolor to charcoal to graphite pencil now just did acrylic portrait, to a colored pencil that I mentioned that already, and pastels and pastels are just glorious. My favorite right now is a brand called Schmincke, S. C. H. M. I. N. C. K. E. and if you watch this lady Boger art studios, her pastels are simply gorgeous, and pastels have the highest degree of chroma. Chroma simply means the saturation of the color. I just absolutely love the way the pastels are presented on canvas or on paper, mainly papers. What I use it on, just absolutely stunning, stunning, stunning, stunning, and watercolors. Watch Stan Miller really learn the techniques. Well. Colored pencil is the most arduous, difficult, laborious, medium that you’re going to find.
And I love the challenge. I was doing a lot of photorealistic work that took maybe 30 hours of work to try to replicate, where pastels are a much quicker medium to work with. But if you want to do pastel portraits, go watch the Boger art studios as Bulgarian woman, it’s amazing. I can’t remember her name, Graziella or something like that. Just, just be GRE if you’re looking for color pencil. This lady, this Russian woman, Aloynh Nicholson, I think A. L. O. Y. N. H. and Nicholson has a great couple of books. I’ve read her books, watched a couple of videos on, on YouTube as well. So basically, everything I got from books and YouTube since I have no formal training, but oftentimes it’s enough to really begin your journey. She’s just incredible.
And then another one I just finished Karen Hull, H. U. L. L. a book on really photorealistic colored pencils. If you’re really obsessive with realism, you should read those, understand color theory. To me, I just hate color theory because I just love color and I just want to, my eye is very good with color. I can see something and I know that the colors are going to work or not going to work. I don’t need the theory behind it. But if you’re just starting out this out there and you’re, you’re wanting to understand, you need to understand color theory better and you need to understand a proportion and all these things, especially if you’re trying to do more realistic work, you know, get a professional grade oil paints, professional grade, acrylic paints, get professional everything because it’s worth that slight degree of premium, they’re going to be more archival, and they’re going to be more densely saturated in color.
Sometimes you don’t need to use as much product. I’m actually now moving away from photo realism toward an expressionistic style. I think it’s always worth diving deep into photo realism just to test your hand at it. But I love the expression of almost like German expressionism or just the feeling, or post-impressionism just getting a feeling of your hands. So, I hope this little primer will give you some, encouragement to do some work. I actually just got my first commission from a friend of mine cause she’s so obsessed with my work online. And I may actually create a little secondary business here, creating my work. You can look at some of my work on Instagram or Facebook, or those other sites. You can look at some of my portraits. I would try to show you the development process that I’m doing. Of course, I’m very junior to this. I’m new to this. This is not someone that’s been doing it for 10 years or has had, you know, several years of schooling. But I hope this is some encouragement for you to embark on your time off, in your journey of creativity during this covert crisis.