Take today for instance. I went to a portrait drawing session offered by a local art group. I chose to set up at the back of the group. One of the other artists expressed concern that I might be too far from the model. But I saw the situation differently.
charcoal on Mi-Teintes paper
approx. 12" x 10"
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan
Being further from the model keeps me from getting tied up in and distracted by the details. The position makes it easier for me to focus on the shapes of highlights and shadows.
When I sit close to the model I tend to label the parts as I draw. My mental chatter focuses on "What shape are the eyes? What are the lips like?" Labelling the features as I work makes it more challenging to ignore the mental symbols of those features and draw what I see.
When I sit further back I can't really see the details of the features. With a little squinting I can focus on the big shapes. And by drawing the big shapes the features sort of magically appear.
Definitely a situation where stepping back and seeing the big picture works better for me than getting up close and focusing on the details.
Our model today was the sister of one of the artists. She was very good both at getting back in to position after a break and at consistently holding the position. Not an easy task with 20 artists staring intently at you!
My sketch was completed in three approximately 20 minute sessions.