So here are more of the lovely, colourful women who kept me company during the lockdown. I learned that just about any colour combination can be used to depict faces. And that layering many colours makes for interesting tones and textures.
I was, of course, unprepared, and faced lockdown with nothing in the way of art supplies but a (thankfully quite empty) sketch book and a lovely new giant pack of fineliners. That lack of choice was quite useful since I didn’t have to think too much about what I was going to do.
Lockdown was not a time for great inspiration, so knowing that I was just going to draw women’s faces made it easy to get started, even on those days when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed.
Old but happy
I learned that faces depend on the right degree of contrast in the right place. Here are some of my favourite, but the kindly face on the right needs more contrast around the hairline.
I also learned that there are great liberties to be taken with depicting faces. That as long as the eyes, nose, mouth combination is there, one can change the features, and their spacing and size and shape. Faces allow great freedom, they develop on the page in a most satisfying way.
Since lockdown has been over (at least here in Portugal), I’ve had less time for drawing. Which is a pity really. It was a wonderful space, all that time to just work on faces.
My latest exploration is of drawing faces using coloured fineliner pens. In part this is due to the limitations of living in a small apartment, but it’s been interesting to have limits. To limit myself further, I’ve been focusing on women’s faces.
I’ve long been interested in portraits and working to express some of the complexity of people through portraits, but here the experiment is more about learning the medium. I’m after repetition, practice, and learning. These sketches are a record of my learning. I try to draw one or two of these a week, and I have a growing pile.
I’m enjoying playing with different colour palettes and the process of building up the features with layers of ink. I’m not totally happy with the outcome yet, but there are some effects in each of these that I like.
These are drawn from pictures, and so depend also on the skill of the photographers involved. Interesting lighting angles make for interesting shapes.
I’ve also drawn a few faces from my imagination. The first I call Watching, and it reflects my sense of having to watch deeply sad events unfold with no way to intervene. The second, I call Dismay, and its the feeling I get when I realise that I’ve just agreed (again) to something I don’t want to do.
Here are my 31 Inktober pics all hung up for the exhibition. I spent a rather hot hour yesterday doing this, in the company of other wonderful artists quietly working on their walls. A sense of calm chaos. The exhibition is on the 7th floor of a rather empty office block. Lots of walls and views!
I got a chance to look around at some of the other work on display. There is some really good stuff. Only about half of it was up when I was there, so I am looking forward to seeing lots more tonight. That said, mine are the most colourful. Clearly not too many people have worked out that ink comes in many colours.
The exhibition opens tonight (Thursday, 9th November) at 6pm at 96 Jorrissen Street in Braamfontein. There is some parking in the building, but the Joburg Theatre’s parking is just a block away too. Do come along and say hi. If you can’t make tonight the exhibition will be up until Sunday, see details on my previous post.
Well I managed to complete 31 days of drawings. It was actually rather fun. Some evenings I only got to my studio after 8pm, and feeling rather uninspired, but the muse was there, every day. It’s a good discipline, but if I did it again, I’d make it a first-thing-in-the-morning priority, like meditating before breakfast.
So here are the pics from days 26 to 31…
Day 26: Boredom or disdain?
Day 27: Pensive
Day 28: Jacarandas
Day 29: There was this aura about the professor
Day 30: It’s a secret
Day 31: It’s all about the framing
During these five days I found myself busy and sitting in meetings. It was easier to fit Inktober in by drawing the people around me. So portraits came to the fore. It turned out to be quite a lot of fun, reminding me of why I set out to work on portraits this year.
Here they are:
Day 16: Girl in profile
Day 17: A young soldier
Day 18: A serious matter
Day 19: Mrs Ngamlana
Day 20: Always smiling
The journey continues… exploring the ink blots, and some more deliberate work. A little Star Trek reference thrown in too.
Day 11: Kneeling woman
Day 12: Blown over the islands
Day 13: I is for Ink (and illustrate, illuminate, inspire, impress, invent, invest, interest, improve, innovate…)
Day 14: Face-off in space
Day 15: Hope in the darkness
I have really enjoyed the excuse to get into my studio every evening. Here are the results from days 6 to 10…
Day 6: Sometimes work feels like a war-zone
Day 7: Shiny Saturday symmetry
Day 8: The full scented rose
Day 9: Taking off
Day 10: Inkseckts
On impulse, I signed up for the Inktober challenge. It’s a real challenge because I have never used ink before. I just assumed that ink was always black. Then I went out and found some great colours at my local stationers.
It’s been interesting, learning what ink can and can’t do. I’m loving the unpredictability of it all. I’ve also found it goes well with my favourite silver pen.
So here are my first five contributions to Inktober…
Day 1: Up and to the left
Day 2: Landscape with poppies
Day 3: J is for Judy
Day 4: The source
Day 5: Angelfish
I’ll post the rest here in batches of five. If you can’t wait five days I am posting daily on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/judybackhouse/).