Many of you have mailed me asking me about my Portraits, and so I thought I'd do a post to answer all the FAQs. (That way, I can point those who really want to know to this post and save the trouble of explaining same thing each time) :-)
These are the last three portraits that I did and I am very pleased with them. (I have done about 21 so far) . [Click to enlarge] Some of you must have already seen these portraits on my Facebook account and on my Art site. To many others these must be new :-) Click here if you want to see all the portraits I have done so far.
Most people who draw agree that Human body (Life drawings) is one of the most difficult things to draw, followed by Human Portraits. In a human body, it is indeed hard to draw a realistic figure. In a human portrait it is hard to get a good likeness.
Portraits have always fascinated me because everyone has 2 eyebrows, 2 eyes, a nose and a mouth. The combinations of these shapes produce millions and millions of different faces! The art of Portraiture is as old as Human civilization itself. As a child I used to find it amazing. As an adult, faces still fascinate me.
I use mostly pencils for my portraits. Yes, the very same pencils that you used in school for writing! :-) You get pencils with darker leads like 2B, 4B and 6B . I have a collection of these. I work mostly from Photographs. In my portraiture course, we use live models. This means a person is posing for you and you have to sketch that person live. I find this slightly hard because the time available is limited, as the duration of the class is just two hours. The models take a break every twenty minutes. Within two hours, one has to complete the portrait and I always find myself needing more time. In a photo, I can use the grid method. I would recommend this method to anyone who wants to learn how to draw or sketch.
It takes me about 4-5 hours to complete a portrait. Yes, it is a lot of hard work but I enjoy it so much. The biggest I have done is the first one that you see above, which is Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. That is an A3 size (29.7 cms by 42 cms). In the second photo you can see how small the reference photo is and how I have enlarged it.
When I drew my first portrait which was a sketch of Satish, there was hardly any resemblance to the original photo. I was so disappointed. Satish was one person who told me not to give up and that I can do it. He reminded me of my earlier sketches and said he did not have the slightest doubt that my pictures would surely improve. So did a good friend. (The third portrait is him). So did my children! They said " Mummy, you can do it. Try mama, that is what you tell us to do." :-) I felt they were all just saying it to assure me and it seemed impossible to me to get a likeness. But gradually, as I worked really hard, my pictures started improving and I began getting stunning likenesses as I practised more and more.
Now I can get a really good likeness from any photo and people have been asking me if I would do it professionally. (And yes I indeed am!)
The key to learning anything is simply hard work, practice and determination, once you read up or study or observe the basic techniques. One should never give up. Also it is never too late to learn anything if you have set your mind to it.
H.W Longfellow had said so beautifully,
"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they while their companions slept
Were toiling upward in the night."
It is a quote which is very true. There is indeed no substitute for hard work.
In case you have any more questions about the portraits that I have not answered in this post, I'd be happy to answer them in my comment box :-)
Even if you have no questions I'd be happy to hear what you have to say too :-)