What a wonderful day! Seven hours of drawing and creating surrounded by David White‘s very impressive portrait works. It is enough to inspire anyone.
I was working under the intense gaze of this guy (Detail only):
The painting is huge and I gazed at it many times during the day, scrutinising the use of colour and expressiveness of the eyes.
Morning Session: Charcoal Sketch
Our model for the day was artist Ray Harrington. During the morning session we did a charcoal sketch with the aim of emphasising the structure of the skull.
You can see that in the second hour I was trying to define the shape of the skull, particular on either side above the eyes and also under the cheeks. I used cross contour hatching to define the shape of the head. (I will discuss cross contour hatching in my next workshop so keep an eye out!) I started with willow charcoal in the first hour and moved onto the darker and less forgiving compressed charcoal in the second hour. I also used some white conte for the midtone and touches of white pastel for lighter areas.
Afternoon session: the large experiment
David creates amazing portraits using a mixed media technique. He starts with a detailed drawing in willow charcoal, covers it with a watercolour wash and then draws over it with Sennelier oil pastels. Here are a few examples of his works using this technique.
The portraits are large – approximately 110cm x 89cm – and make a bigger impact when seen in life.
David very kindly gave me one of his huge sheets of paper and allowed me to use his beloved Senneliers to have a go at this technique. I only had 3 hours to complete it which, given the size, was unfortunately not enough time for me. I liked working on that scale – the eyes were so huge as to not require fiddly work – but I didn’t have enough room to step back an look at the work from a distance. I find it hard to gauge how the drawing is going if I can’t stand back from it.
Here is my effort. Not too bad for using oil pastels for the first time but I wasn’t all that happy with it. I’m comparing it to David’s work… but have to remember that he has been doing this for a significantly longer time than I have.
I found the oil pastels a challenge. I am used to being able to cover a large area quickly with my soft pastels. The oils required either a hatching or scribbling approach. In my frenzy to get it anywhere near completed, I opted for the scribbly technique. Very energetic. And still not finished.
Back into the comfort zone of my soft pastels, I think!
You can see larger and complete images of David’s oil pastel works here.