Likeness vs. Caricature: Is It Ever Really Clear Cut?

December 11, 2015


Above: Two gouache portraits in my 7 1/2 inch square journal that I made with Nideggen. You can see some of the toned paper coming through in the face on the left. None of the paper is showing on the right. The drawings were done independently of each other and even though they are on the same spread they are studies not meant to relate to each other. Read the post for more detail.

I am pretty giggly these past few weeks as I work my way through a 7 1/2 inch square journal I made with Nideggen. I love the way all the media I like to use work on it. (You’ll see a bunch of examples in the coming weeks.)

Here’s what I have to say today:

Note: “Left” and “Right” used below, refer to this first image in the post.

1. If you can’t get out and sketch because it is dark by the time you return from eldercare and the zoo closes at 4 p.m. from now on until April, sketch anyone around, and if that anyone isn’t around maybe there’s a favorite TV show? Sketch something. (These are based on two actors in "The Irish R.M.")

151126_A_gouache-manCRALT_Detail-ALeft: Detail from the verso (left) page.

2. If you see a pair of ears you like sketch them.

3. If you want bold lines and simplified form pick up your Pentel Pocket brush pen.

4. If you want color there’s never a better time to get out the gouache.

5. Better yet, what about the gouache you had left over from yesterday’s painting session. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right colors out, jump in anyway.

6. Maybe some fresh white is useful for tinting—Sure, of course it is.

7. If you’re using M. Graham or Schmincke gouache the old, dried gouache will rewet well on the palette. Give it a good spritz before you start sketching and it will be good to go. Really. (I live in a cold, dry climate, in a cold, dry house, so if I can reconstitute paint so can you!)

8. Experiment and play with a Filbert. You can get so many lines or strokes off the different edges.

9. Enjoy the feeling of pushing the paint around. REALLY ENJOY IT. It’s thick, it fights back ever so slightly, it can be smooth, it can be left stroky (OK you know that’s a word right?) and textured if you like it that way. Why not?

10. If you’re working on toned paper leave some of the tone. (Left)

11. Simplify your color approach and think about value shapes.

151126_A_gouache-manCRALT_Detail-BLeft: Detail from the recto (right) page. Some of the black brush pen lines peek through, but most have been covered.

12. Go ahead and allow yourself to get fussy if you can’t resist it. (And by the second painting I couldn’t resist getting fussy.)

13. Let your bold pen lines come through. (Left)

14. Cover up your bold pen lines. (Right)

15. Enjoy the sound of the page when you turn it now that it has been slightly warped and deformed by the wet media.

16. Think about all sorts of things to say about these paintings and the following brush pen sketch.

17. Think about caricature and how it exaggerates shape and negative space for a certain emotional effect. (Left)

151124_Peter-BowlesLeft: Previous (two days earlier) sketch of actor Peter Bowles using PPBP on 9 x 12 inch Bienfang Watercolor paper (inexpensive pad I was testing before giving to a child artist, no decision yet, look for a review in 2016).

18. Think about likeness and how it attempts to capture a specific individual whether stylistically (left) or realistically (right); and how you may be temperamentally unsuited to doing anything in a totally realistic fashion (right—the use of blue), but how that has never hindered any enjoyment.

19. Enjoy that enjoyment.

20. Jot down your thoughts, which have gone very philosophical, on a yellow pad.

21. Then lose the yellow pad because you’re busy filming classes for Spring 2016 and the studio tables are heaped with projects you set “aside.”

22. Write one of the shortest posts in the history of your blog.

23. Suggest your readers chat amongst themselves about likeness, caricature, and artistic temperament.

24. Go back to painting, there’s still some gouache on that palette.

    • Alison O
    • December 11, 2015

    Great Post Roz – informative, inspirational AND amusing! I aspire to be like you x

    • Leslie Schramm
    • December 11, 2015

    Yellow Pad. Are you sure it’s not “Yellow Car”? Because we are always playing Yellow Car. (If you don’t know the reference; shame on you Roz) Love this post, think I’ll go fight with a Filbert for a change.

  1. Reply

    We own 2 yellow vehicles… a Jeep wrangler and a Smart car… we are happy people like to play yellow car as we love our yellow cars.

  2. Reply

    Leslie, well I definitely lost my yellow pad—in the US Legal paper pads are yellow. (I don’t know why lawyers started that, maybe it’s easier on the eye than white paper?) I use these for scratch writing, outlining, etc. when I’m away from the computer.

    I’m not sure I do know what Yellow Car is? I assume it’s some sort of game where you look to spot them, but is there then a point system? First person to 10?

    I hope you had fun with the Filbert. I think they are the BEST BRUSH.

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