It was my distinct pleasure to teach a new class this past February and March 2018 at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, Evening Portrait Drawing.
Beginning with learning the generalized proportions of the human head, we then moved on to observing and depicting the various planes and angles of the face, and how each surface reflects light differently. We discussed the concepts of chiaroscuro and tenebrism, the differences between core and cast shadow, and how to effectively use simultaneous contrast to add drama and make the drawing pop. The students experienced various methods of drawing – building the drawing up from the base tone of the newsprint, toning the paper with charcoal and employing subtractive erasing marks to define highlights and planes within the drawing, and beginning with brown kraft (butcher) paper as the drawing surface. When working with kraft paper, students experienced how a warm-hued surface changes the level of tone applied and the media and mark-making choices, such as when an artist might use white or black conté, compressed charcoal, or vine charcoal, and how that differs from toning the paper with charcoal directly.
We also explored several types of lighting composition – high key, middle key, low key, and full key chiaroscuro – and discussed how an artist can use light as an additional tool for conveying atmosphere and meaning within a drawing. I was very pleased with their progress from the beginning to the end of the eight week session, and really enjoyed seeing everyone’s individual drawing techniques and mark-making develop with each new exercise.
Below are images of student drawings which we did at the beginning of the first class, before instruction began.
At the beginning of class, I’m always running around too much to remember to photograph, but here are some photos from the last three classes of the session:
Additionally, my class and I were invited to display our drawings in the entrance hallway gallery during the Clearly Human III exhibition, which ran from April 13 to May 26, 2018. I’m very proud of my students and all their hard work!
Display Clearly Human III at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, SP18 Portrait Drawing class exercises; 2 drawings on the left by Lloyd Jones; drawing on the right by Carol Fichtelman
Display at Clearly Human III, St. Louis Artists’ Guild – SP18 Final Chiaroscuro Drawing Demo by Elizabeth M. Willey and Low Key Class Exercise by Peter Pagano