Wax Bloom

S.G. Chipman's Drawing Blog

Wax Bloom

Entries Tagged as 'Thinking Out Loud'

One Year Retrospective

March 4th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Well, its been a year since I started drawing again. Since completing Clara on March 3rd of 2007, I’ve done fifty-one portraits.

My technique has changed dramatically in that time, going from cross-hatching to very saturated and painterly. I’ve gone from using white cold press illustration board exclusively to prefering colored surfaces and as of late, sanded surfaces like Pastelbord.

A quick look at what I was producing a year ago:

Colored pencil portrait entitled Clara.

And what I am producing now:

Colored pencil portrait entitled Thirsty

Huge difference, I’d say. Skin tones are more modeled and realistic, the eyes have life…it just feels like a more accomplished piece.

For an even more stunning comparison of progress, lets have a critical look at my self portraits. This one, done in 2004, embarasses me to no end. At one point I was really proud of this piece.

Colored pencil portrait entitled Self Portrait

While its a likeness, its not exactly a good one. The composition is poor, the execution is sloppy, the eyes are flat, the modeling of the flesh tones and shadows are particulary bad and the transitions from light to dark are jarring. On the plus side…well, no – there are no good things about this one. I regret that my wife spent money to have it framed, honestly.

Following that drawing, I did a few more and then quit for another three years. In June of 2007, I produced this self portrait:

Colored pencil portrait entitled Self Portrait II

I still hadn’t graduated past cross-hatching with this drawing, but my concept of color and shadow has obviously improved over the first self portrait. The eyes have more life and the skin tones are more realistic, displaying more confidence in the use of blues and greens to indicate cool highlights and shadows (and not having them stand out as oddly placed fields of color). However, it still feels more like a “sketch” or a study than a drawing that took six hours to finish.

The next portrait is a graphite drawing, and I wasn’t sure I should include it in this retrospective since its not the same medium as the others. But, a drawing is a drawing, after all and this one demonstrates more patience with the pencils and an even more refined grasp of playing light and shadow against one another. Its also the best likeness I’d achieved in a self portrait to this point.

Graphite portrait entitled Self Portrait III

And although there is more patience with it, there isn’t quite enough. Portions of the drawing have a rushed or bored quality about them.

Lastly, we have Self Portrait IV, which as I stated in the original post, I feel I “leveled up” on. I was able to see colors and details I had never noticed before, and found myself surprised to be able to translate those details onto the canvas. It was very much like pushing past a mental block – I could almost feel it crumble in my head, if you’ll allow me to be so cliché.

Colored pencil portrait entitled Self Portrait IV

I think the improvements over the last three are self evidant. A year of drawing faces has given me an ability to draw what may not be there but what needs to be and an intimate familiarity with the anatomy of the face and how light plays across its surface. And yet I have so much further to go. When I do the two year retrospective next year, I’ll wager I hate this one. Any takers?

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Tags: Thinking Out Loud

My Color Palette

February 4th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Jeanette Jobson asked about the color palette I used on Nate & Hannah. I replied in the comments with the palette, but thought I’d make a post about the palette I use for portraits with a bit more detail since the colors are generally the same in all of the portraits I do – what varies are the intensities depending on complexion.

The base color I use for medium Caucasian and Asian complexions.
Used for rosiness in cheeks and as a preliminary layer for shadows.
Salmon Pink
Used as a secondary layer for shadows.
When used on colored paper, preliminary layer color for highlights. On white paper, strictly for burnishing.
Light Peach
Alternate base color for lighter complexions.
Copenhagen Blue
I use this color for very dark shadows, and always in conjunction with Dark Umber.
Blue Slate
Used for light shadows as well as highlights. I use this color a lot.
Warm Gray 10 & 20%
Shadows in eyes, stubble.
Sienna Brown
Used in shadow layers after applications of Peach and Blue Slate.
Terra Cotta
For warming up shadows over Sienna Brown.
Light Umber
For brown hair.
Deco Pink
This color is perfect to blend flesh tones into highlights. Unfortunately, its been discontinued by Prismacolor. I have a half inch stub left that I use sparingly.
Rosy Beige
This is a purplish/grayish color that works well for cool shadows.
Dark Green
For very dark shadows. Often combined with Scarlet Lake.
Pink Rose
Cheeks and transitions into shadow.
Blush Pink
Another heavily used color. Used as the second layer of color over Beige.
Used for transitions between flesh tones and bright highlights.
For hair, as well as the base color for very dark complexions, such as in this one.
Parma Violet
Used for cool shadows on light complexions.
Dark Umber
For shadows, often coupled with Copenhagen Blue.
Grayed Lavender
Cool shadows on light complexions.
Scarlet Lake
For warming up shadows.

Of course, your milage may vary and there may be colors in your subject that aren’t in this list and vice-versa. The main thing to remember – use more than the preconceived colors you believe make up a skin tone. If you’re only using peaches and pinks, you’ll end up with a drawing that feels flat. Play around with subtle additions of color in many layers and you’ll be pleased with this results.

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Tags: Colored Pencil · Thinking Out Loud

Five Things…

January 29th, 2008 · 7 Comments

Rose tagged me for everyone’s favorite “Five Things You Don’t Know About Me” meme, so here goes. Prepare to be enlightened! Or something!

I play the drums.
And I’ll bet if you sit around me at work, the incessant tapping on my desk in rhythm to whatever I’m listening to on my iPod probably gave that away.
I work for AOL.
I started in late ‘99, just in time for the stock to hit its peak and be completely useless to me. And if you knew that I played drums by way of hearing me tap on my desk, then you already knew this one too.
I used to smoke.
Two packs of Basic Lights a day, but I quit three years ago. Now I can’t abide it.
Until 2003, I’d never been outside of the U.S..
And since then I’ve been to Germany, Austria, Ireland, Greece, Turkey, and the UK.
My wife and I are expecting our second child in March.
A boy!

Of course, a meme isn’t a meme if it isn’t passed on, so…

  • Jeanette Jobson, because she left such a nice comment about Nate & Hannah.
  • Cindy Li, even though I’m sure she’s been tagged with this meme before but without her excellent photographs to work from, a lot of my portraits wouldn’t exist.
  • Kevin Lawver, because outside of my own family, I’ve drawn more Lawvers than anyone else.
  • Paulette, because she was nice enough to add me to her blogroll.
  • Stuart Langridge, because this is just the sort of thing that I’m sure would conjure a litany of curses from him just for being tagged. And that amuses me.

Not that I expect any of you to carry it on. Well, except Stuart.

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Tags: Thinking Out Loud

Me, by Ener Popener

January 7th, 2008 · No Comments

I subscribe to several art related groups on Flickr, such as Colored Pencil Drawings and Your Art – Not Photography.

One of my favorites is Pencil Portraits thanks to its small member base (only around 400 as opposed to the Your Art’s nearly 10k), which keeps the signal to noise ratio down and because of its subject matter, naturally.

So, imagine my suprise when, a week or so ago, this drawing appeared in my feed reader:

Pencil portrait of yours truly by German artist Ener Popener
S.G. Chipman by Ener Popener

I paused, cocked my head to the side, stared at it a moment and said “huh…that handsome devil certainly looks familiar.”

It was then that my one and a half year old walked over (whenever she sees the laptop open she wanders over and demands to watch Mahna Mahna), pointed at the drawing and said “Daddy!”.

Ener Popener, the artist, wasn’t pleased with the likeness when he first posted it, so I left a comment letting him know that Clara thought it was just fine. If a toddler can spot the likeness, you’re at the very least pretty close. :)

My thanks to Ener for taking the time to draw me – I was quite a suprise, not to mention flattering, that he thought enough of my work to do the portrait in the first place as a means of inviting me into his artist portrait group.

Now to find a good picture of Mr. Popener so I can return the favor.

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Tags: Thinking Out Loud

Goals for ‘08

January 3rd, 2008 · 8 Comments

  1. Start Working Larger I’ve been limiting myself to pieces no larger than 8.5 x 11″ for the past year because thats how big my scanner is. It seems silly to me now, but it made sense at one point. The largest piece I did in 2007 was 11 x 14″ and I was really happy with the way it turned out. I was less happy with how it photographed, which leads to goal number two…
  2. Set up a Photography Area I don’t own an SLR, but the point-n-click I have does fairly high resolution images. The issue I have is one of proper lighting. I want to be able to confidently and accurately capture my work. I’m tired of saying “it looks better in real life.”
  3. Get Back to Working with Clay This time last year I was heavily into creating clay caricatures and I’m starting to miss it. I stopped when my Mom suggested I do a portrait of my daughter, and found myself more interested in drawing than sculpting. I also want to sculpt things other than what I had been. I bought my daughter a play kitchen set for Christmas and it could use some more toy food, for example.
  4. Try Other Mediums I spent most of 2007 working in Colored Pencil, and found the inspiration to branch out a bit to graphite late in the year. I did a lot of oil painting in college, and would like to get back into that. I’d like to give pastels a try as well.
  5. Draw Things other than Faces As much as I love portraiture, I really don’t want it to stagnate. I want to start trying other subject matter – perhaps try my hand at a still life or two to start, and move on from there.
  6. Pursue More Commission Work I think I let a lot of commissions slip through the cracks last year by not going after them with more vigor. I read somewhere that people don’t make up their mind about a purchase until they’ve been reminded of it around eight or nine times. Folks would approach me, mention how much they loved my work, say they wanted one, I’d say “great!” and nothing would come of it because I didn’t follow up (because I expected them to…foolish me). This year, if you ask me about a portrait, expect to be harassed until you have it in your hands :)

And you? What do you plan to accomplish this year?

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Tags: Thinking Out Loud