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Pen Portraits for Drawing August

Just over a week into Drawing August and I may be starting to regret my self-imposed choice of subject: pen portraits…

Drawing August is a Twitter challenge in which artists commit to produce a drawing every day during August – any subject and any medium. This is it’s second year, and following my difficulty last year in finding subjects, I made the decision to draw a pen portrait every day. Pure pen, pure line; no wash or any other tonal jiggery-pokery.

My figure drawing is an area which could really do with some work, and so I started in the hope that I would see a noticeable improvement over the month. And I’m determined to Tweet all my results, stinkers as well as roses.

My lovely work colleagues have been very generous in coming forward as models. Fortunately for them, I’m also determined to work to a self-imposed time limit of 15 minutes.  No pressure! Weekends are going to be tricky, and I can see a few self portraits creeping in; not narcissism, necessity.

Drawing August Day 7
Day 7

So after the first week how’s it going? ‘Mixed’ would be a good description. Every day is different. Some days I’m very confident and sure of my line, others I’m a dithering, uncertain wreck  – as in these two drawings.

Drawing August Day 5
Day 5

Thinking about it, a big factor has to be state of mind. All these pen portraits are made during lunch break, and switching instantly from an intense work mind-set to a creative space can be a wrench. Sometimes the work bleeds over and I don’t pay as much attention as I should. On a few of the portraits I can see where I’ve resorted to drawing what I think should be there rather than  being guided by careful observation.

Drawing August Day 1
Day 1

Another factor I’ve noticed is that the portraits of my two male colleagues are far more confident than those of their female counterparts. Some sort of gender split going on?  Well, I don’t think so. I have a theory that it has to do with hair.

Drawing August Day 6
Day 6

I reckon when I’m confronted by fluffy or flowing long hair I lose track of the structure underneath.  As a result all the key bits of a face may be there, but not necessarily all in the right places.

Drawing August Day 8
Day 8

Both my male models so far sport minimalistic hair do’s (…) and while I may have blessed them with a couple of extra pounds, largely their likenesses aren’t too bad. And today’s drawing of a female colleague with her hair tied up seems to support my hypothesis. More of her face is visible, the resultant drawing is more confident and more accurate.

An interesting start, now, how many days left in August?

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