Project Friday: I Love Phil Davis’ Face

February 28, 2014

140203_Phil-DavisLeft: Probably the first sketch I made of Phil Davis. Brush Pen on elementary school-ruled paper. (It's a thin paper that I just love to sketch on, can't help myself. I also love the sound a book full of brush pen drawings on this paper makes when you shuffle through it.) I didn't get what really interested me into this sketch, jumping right in with the pen as I did—the ears and the hair.

Click on any of the images in this post to view an enlargement.

I've been adjusting to life with the Roku. Television shows I might have missed or might never had been able to see, or even shows I want to rewatch—whenever I want to watch them I can now watch whenever I want to watch them. I am a poster child for the Roku.

I particularly enjoy British television shows and Phil Davis, who may be familiar to you from a ton of work ranging from appearances in tv dramatizations of Dickens to modern crime dramas, stars in "Whitechapel." And I have to draw him.


Left: I took time off one lunch time to sketch more views of Phil Davis.

I'm horrible to watch TV with because I also sketch the whole time. Sometimes I sketch while the show keeps running (that's not bad for other folks trying to watch with me) other times I stop the show—everyone gives up at that point, even though I sketch very quickly.

(When I moved in with Dick he didn't even have a TV [something I rectified in about 2 days] and over the years one thing has not changed: Roz has the conn! I'm sorry, that's just the way it is.)

I can't help myself, I see an interesting nose, pair of ears, and some fine hair and I have to sketch then. Perhaps I've been snowbound all week and haven't had any live people to sketch, or haven't been able to stop and sketch while running errands (because the temps are too low and I don't like to let the car idle). There could be a thousand reasons why I might sketch something on TV or in life. That's not the point. 


Left: Another approach, trying to simplify what I'm putting down on paper. Also during the same lunch break.

The point for me is that when you see something that grabs your interest you should sketch it, wherever and whenever you see it. It's all practice.

The rough sketches in this post all represent, to me, an effort to work out how Davis' face is put together. I haven't worked out a way to line photos up in a Typepad blog post so the images will be staggered, but you'll get the idea.


Left: Sketch done later on the same day.

The third and fourth images in this blog post were sketched quickly during a lunch break. To me they are interesting not just as attempts to capture features, but as a record of how I went about working out ways to capture those features.

I couldn't stop thinking about those "issues" and approaches, so while I was waiting for something to dry in the studio I came back and did another sketch later in the afternoon.

The following sketches were done at different times (you can probably read the times on the scans), sometimes on different papers, sometimes with different pens. Davis' face became a bit of a puzzle for me to think about.

I encourage you to find such puzzles for yourself. You open yourself up to learning some things you might not otherwise learn if you always set up the same subject matter or use the same pen, or draw on the same paper.

You might try to do a lot of detail, then something minimal, something with no shading—only line, something with shading, something that is a caricature and accentuates certain features (like the third sketch below). Just explore.

Those are my recommendations for making this a Project Friday.)

(The first two below are done in a 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia journal and that paper, unlike the elementary school-ruled paper can take wash so I used a waterbrush to pull out some shading.)


140206_PhilDavisFabriano2   140215_PhilDavis_FineTColorB

140217_Phil-Davis_ProfileLeft: This is my favorite. I was relaxing after a long day, which concluded with a fun talk I attended. But I hadn't been able to draw much during the day.










140217_Phil-Davis 140219_Phil_Davis_9xxBPencil

Looking at Phil Davis' face actually made me pick up a PENCIL and sketch on some WAVE paper. (I was just testing the paper and it's wonderful to sketch on with pencil by the way—at least with the Kimberly 9xxB.)

I haven't picked up a pencil in ages.

I think that anything that causes us push ourselves out of our current patterns is great.

Find something that grabs your interest visually and keep trying to get it down on paper.  

Wave paper is a 130 gsm, alpha cellulose, double sized, pH-neutral, buffered, chlorine and lignin free paper from Kunst & Papier. I did some brush pen work on it and the tooth of the paper, perfect for capturing graphite and colored pencil, does marvelously interesting things with your ink-brush lines, but those experiments weren't more sketches of Davis. Marker used on this paper seems to be sucked right into the paper. The markers I used didn't bleed through, it just felt as if the paper provided enough drag on the marker that it had more time to suck out more ink. It's not a pleasant feeling to me, so I won't use it for markers, but you might like it for them.

I used a variety of brush pens for the above sketches, all of them from Pentel. Mostly I was working with the fugitive, dye-based ones, sometimes with watersoluble ones. I was also experimenting with the fine-tipped brush pens they make instead of relying on my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. That pen remains my favorite, but I like to try the others. (I've started noting down which pen I used when I do these quick sketches because I found afterwards it was difficult for me to tell some of them apart, though the different inks have a slightly different color cast when viewed in person.) If you would like to see the variety of Pentel Pens I use please see my post about them here.

  1. Reply

    Roz: wonderful and inspiring.
    In the late 80’s I got some books from CLAIREFONTAINE, with blank and lined paper. They were hard bound, had a perfume to them of some kind ( which I could do w/o but no matter…) and were absolutely amazing to use with ink. They were on clearance and I bought a few every payday until the stock was depleted. The lined paper took the ink so beautifully, drawing was like skating. I have one left and this post has reminded me that I need to be in the moment, stop saving it for a rainy day, and DRAW!!!!! ( P.S.- MR. SELFRIDGE is a great masterpiece classic to draw if you are interested in interiors at all )

    • Kristine
    • March 2, 2014

    How neat to open your page and see Philip Davis! I am a big fan of Mike Leigh’s films. My favorite is “High Hopes” with Phil Davis and Ruth Sheen (another amazing face!). If you want to see a more recent, equally beautiful performance, I highly recommend Mike Leigh’s “Vera Drake.” Thanks for the inspiration … and the gorgeous drawings of Phil!

  2. Reply

    Kristine, thanks for the heads up about “High Hopes” and “Vera Drake.” When I went to IMDB to link Phil Davis I saw several movies of his that I haven’t seen and am keen to do so! I’m glad you enjoy his work as well. I find he has an incredibly expressive face, I did another drawing of him yesterday!

  3. Reply

    Thanks so much Roz for the wealth of information!

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