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New Horizons for the New Year

While 2020 pretty much sucked on a social level, it actually rocked on a personal level.

Deep down, I actually enjoyed the time I had to spend on myself. My projects. Learning things and growing.

Yes, I missed attending concerts, festivals, and events. How didn't?


But I did enjoy reading, learning new art techniques, and stretching my limits on what I could accomplish with my art, all by myself.

New Projects as I look ahead

As a Christmas present, my husband bought me a book called "Painting Portraits in Acrylic Paint, by Hashim Akib. I have always loved drawing and painting the figure, but actually focusing on the face? I hadn't really ever done it. New challenge for my art journey. And something to work on for the new year.

This is no paint-by-the-numbers art lesson. Oh no. The author Hashim Akib has you get outside your comfort zone by using only big flat brushes. The smallest of which is 3/4' wide.

Staying loose and painting in big strokes you sketch in the figure and then dip your brush into the pools of paint in an un-mixed manner. This is totally new to me. Using bright colors like turquoise as base layers and broad strokes of the brush to define the face is a whole new, more sculptural way of seeing the face. I am loving it!

The photo above was one of the early practices of making made-up faces, just using the basic "robot" layout for a face: a long rectangle, with a centerline from top to bottom and side to side, 2 boxes for the eye sockets, and a triangle for the nose, and GO! I just approximated where the shadows and the highlights should be. It freed me up to concentrate on the planes and the skull.

Next, I tried a face that was shown in the book and recommended colors to fill in as U worked on another portrait. The color mixing that Hashim recommends is very loose. He suggests you load your brush and only slightly be=lend a pool of color on your palette instead of favoring the mix that happens on the canvas. An approach I haven't really tried.

I plan to lean into this a lot more this year.

Improving Existing Skills

Another project I have been expanding on is my drawing of people. Early on in the Pandemic, I decided I would draw every day, or try to.

Drawing is my safe space. Something I have always enjoyed doing, ever since I was in kindergarten. Now I am armed with better pencils, better lighting, and better source material. I had watched a video back in March or April, that I really try to think about every time I start a new drawing. The artist showed you how to sketch in your reference points, and lightly sketch the outlines of your composition and gradually add shadows starting with an H pencil and blending as you go, to slowly build up the darks in a composition. It was super powerful to watch!

I try to employ this technique now for every drawing I do.

I try to force myself to sketch lightly to start my drawing, making sure that the basic image is correct in simple outline form, before allowing myself to move forward with only a slightly darker pencil. Sticking with that H pencil is hard. But I have learned these past 9 months, that starting light and allowing yourself to build up the darks slowly, while using a blending tool in between REALLY pays off.

Check out this recently finished drawing and how I was able to really punch the darks up, against the palest whites.

And I have been using this technique in drawings with figures. As I have not been able to do in-person figure drawing which I had so enjoyed over the last 2-3 years, I now must rely on photographs, but the advantage is that I can spend a LOT more time bringing a drawing to a level of finish that I had previously not pursued.

Here's the latest drawing I tackled this week, focusing on two people's faces and body language. I plan to frame this and send it off as a gift to my brother, whose daughters are depicted here. Drawings can be fragile, and if you don't frame them quickly, they seem to diminish in clarity and value almost immediately after completion. I am a firm believer in glass and framing!

Let's see what other new things I can learn this year!

I love to learn and call myself a Lifelong Learner.

Here's to 2021 and the continuation of this art journey!

Hope to see you all soon at a gallery opening or festival!

Happy New Year.


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