Welcome to International Fake Journal Month 2013!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Facial Vocabularly and the Ninth Entry in Roz's 2010 Fake Journal


Left: the ninth entry in my 2010 fake journal. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I've been thinking a lot about faces this month, because of the way the fake journal is structured. I found a slim but delightful book from Dover that I recommend to people working with faces—"Sargent Portrait Drawings: 42 Works by John Singer Sargent."

You'll also find books with drawings by other masters like Holbein and Leonardo. The great thing is that many are $6.95 (the price of the Sargent book).

The drawings in this book are reproduced in a large enough size so that you can see subtle nuances of line and shade. (One drawing on each 8 x 11 inch page.) Some of the drawings are loosely started and left unfinished, others are completed and fully realized (though I would argue that even Sargent's unfinished work has a sense of being fully realized).

Seeing how a great master like Sargent makes pencil and charcoal do his bidding to capture a likeness can inform your own efforts. You can see how he developed a vocabulary of marks and approaches that capture the 3-D in the 2-D surface. It is helpful to see how someone so skilled understands the structure of the face and the play of light and shadow on that structure. And it is always instructive to see how a great mind and hand "cheats" and suggests detail with a sure touch, when there is no detail upon close observation.

Sargent, Holbein, Leonardo—and all the great masters—can help you find a facial vocabulary of your own. I recommend you check out some of these books.

2 comments:

Melinda Bilecki said...

This is great, Roz! I'm really enjoying seeing your portraits. It's fascinating to see your take on these faces!

journalrat said...

Thanks Melinda, it has been interesting so far. I think the later ones are getting more interesting, so I'll be interested to hear what you think when you have seen them all.

It has all spilled over into my regular journal as now I'm drawing more and more faces in it (though in brush pen which I love). I had the same thing happen when I was getting ready for the 2009 MCBA Visual Journal Collective's Portrait Party—I just drew faces, faces, faces.

I'd still rather be at the zoo drawing birds!