Well, more truthfully, I have been wanting to improve my combination of drawing speed and accuracy. I believe I could draw anything I wanted given an infinite amount of time. And on the flip side, there is very little (if anything) that I could draw accurately in say 30 seconds.
So when I found out about a portrait group help by the Bethlehem Palette Club, I decided to give it a try. The group is for club members and is held every Wednesday morning during the colder months (January through April I think).
Each week we have a different model to draw. The models are all volunteers, but I have to say that so far each one has done a fantastic job. It is surprisingly difficult to sit without moving for 20 minutes at a time!!
Prior to joining this group, I had drawn or painted a grand total of 2 portraits. The first one was of my Grandfather. It was a gift for my mom. I drew it in graphite using an old photograph as my reference. I was pleased with the outcome, but it definitely fell in the "I can draw anything given an infinite amount of time" category.
My second ever portrait I did in watercolor at a workshop. I worked on it for a full day and added some finishing touches the next day. You can read about the experience and see the finished portrait here.
The first week of the portrait group I decided to use watercolors since I had had success with the watercolor portrait last year. Unfortunately, I didn't have a hair dryer with me, and I only had about two hours of total painting time. This made the portrait significantly more challenging and it shows in the results, which is exactly why I won't be sharing that portrait here.
Since there really isn't a good place to set up a hair dryer, I decided to try charcoal on colored ground for week two. The good news is that I felt the portrait was an improvement over week one. The bad news is that I was working on Mi-Teintes paper for the first time and I forgot that one side had a pretty pronounced textural pattern. Guess which side I drew on.
Also, earlier in the week I had been working on a graphite drawing. I don't typically use any blending tools when I work in graphite, but I do like to blend with charcoal. Of course, I forgot I liked to blend charcoal until about two thirds of the way through that session. Needless to say, I'm not sharing that portrait either.
But this week, this week I was prepared. I made sure to use the smoother side of the paper. I blended early and often. And I listened to my iPod to distract that inner critic. And the result... a definite improvement - not a masterpiece by any means, but something I am willing to share.
9" x 11"charcoal portrait on colored paper
Working from a live model under a time constraint is a great way to sharpen my skill at getting the pertinent information down in a timely fashion. My goal for joining this group is not to become a great portrait artist, but to see improvement in my portraits over the course of a few months. I am thrilled that I have already seen improvement in three weeks, and I hope I continue to improve from here.