Character Actors Make Great Sketching Practice

January 15, 2011

The full post is more on my practice for the Portrait Party.

110104Dibley Left: Sketches of character actors in "The Vicar of Dibley" in the Bogus paper journal, with Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy Pen.

Character actors make great sketching practice. They tend not to be "conventionally beautiful" in the way that major movie stars are. They tend to have real, well character, in their faces. They have great large noses and prominent eyes. Their mouths and teeth become interesting focal points. There ears are a world of light and dark and curve and bend. I have fallen in love with every member of the cast of "The Vicar of Dibley."

I sketched these late one night when I needed to get more practice for the portrait party in.

I really like the way the Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy pen works over this paper. If you stop for a moment the ink soaks into the paper but not through the paper! You can get thin lines, broken lines because of the knubby texture of the paper. I just like it.

At any rate, the struggle to size the eyes small enough (because that seems always to be where I start) so that I can fit the ear in the live area of the page continues!

  1. Reply

    Looks great. I’m learning how to draw faces this year – so much harder to do than it looks and you make it look wonderfully easy. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Reply

    You have them to a “t”-great sketches Roz. Keep telling me how good it is to draw in pen. Like swimming, I can’t quite throw myself into the deep end of pen sketching yet.

  3. Reply

    Elizabeth, good luck with your drawing plan for 2011. It’s a great goal to have. Human faces are always difficult for me. I look at people (obviously as I’m always sizing them up) but (perhaps because I am always sizing them up) they are far less interesting to me than animals as portrait subjects. I think also, as humans we can tend to hold on to our “symbols” and insistence on “lines must go this way” because it’s a nose (etc.) more with people. I’m squinting more and more and with luck and a little bit of grace my portraits will end up like large masses of light and dark with a bit of eye highlight!

    And still recognizable. Now wouldn’t that be fun!

  4. Reply

    Judith, here’s the thing, you just have to jump in. Leave the pencil at home when you go out or don’t pick it up. There is nothing to match the horror of that dark black gash of ink across the page, the sense that you are completely screwed, to get you to slow down and see and well, simply carry on.

    I was just talking to a group of students about this yesterday. They weren’t having it. People do it in their own timing.

    I make a ton of ugly sketches and will continue to do so, but I also love when they come out well—even when one line is well done.

    I like the strident line. I like the bracing effect. I like that there is no other step before, and that there is no pencil messing up the sight, and the feel of the paper.

    Ultimately it becomes a meditative thing.

    And as my friend Ken Avidor likes to preach (because we are both always proselytizing for direct work in ink), you learn how to “cheat.”

    So find yourself some character actors and dive right in with that pen—but be sure you have a paper compatible with the pen you select.

    To keep the swimming analogy—go hang out with a bunch of sketchers who work in pen. They’ll push you in the deep end.

    Or be like me—I detest smudged pages so I like media that doesn’t smudge!

    Good luck!

  5. Reply

    I LOVE the Vicar of Dibley, these are great. No, no, no, no, no, YES!

  6. Reply

    Pattie, that’s hilarious! Thank you.

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