The top two faces, and the one on the bottom right were drawn in class. The upper left picture caused some amusement among the folks in the class as we tried to decide just what this girl was so mad about! She looks really pissed off! I hadn't noticed it, myself, until Joy picked it up and commented about her expression. That shows the importance of stepping back from your work!
Despite the mess, I enjoy working with charcoal. Joy keeps saying how lovely it is because you can move it. And, she is right. I find there is a lot more latitude with charcoal than there is with pencil. (The two sketches on the middle, right of the picture above - the one with the guy who looks somewhat Spockian, were drawn with pencil.)
Today I played around with another sketch. I am getting much faster at blocking out the basic shapes of the face, both full on and in profile. Here is my sketch quite a bit beyond the blocking-in stage. I am well into the details here, but there are huge changes between this image and the next.
Of course, adding hair makes a huge difference in the appearance of the sketch. But additionally, I realized the line of the jaw was too harsh, so I softened both the angle and the shadow. After
completing thinking I had completed the sketch, I wanted to play with something different for the background. I do wish I had taken a picture of the first attempt. I was trying to copy something I had seen in a sketch that used rough, horizontal and vertical lines. It looked terrible, so I smudged in out with my finger, took some of the charcoal off the upper right corner, and added some on the lower left. I also blocked out the area to make her neck look shorter. At this point I was just thinking of it as background. However, when I stepped away and took another look, I realized that it could be a shawl or shirt collar. You can see the subtle changes I made in the bottom shot.
In addition to the changes in the shawl, I also took away some charcoal in some areas of her hair, and added more charcoal to other areas. I decided if the light was coming from the front, just to the right of the woman, there needed to be more lightness on the top of her head. For the same reason, I added more shadow under her jaw, and below her cheek. At some point I realized her eye was far too large. Due to the grace of charcoal, I was able to remove much of the back 'point' and reshape it, and the eyebrow.
Each time I come back to the sketch I find another area that doesn't please me. However, sometimes I find that trying to make a correction in one area causes harm to another. At some point (will I figure out where that point is?) the artist must decide she is finished.
What I like about the sketch:
I am really pleased with the shading under the jaw and along the woman's neck. The shading on the lower part of her face makes her look older, which was my intention. However, the upper part of her face looks very young. I do like how the background adds more depth.
What I might do differently:
Although I like the background, the way that I left it around the top of her head leaves somewhat of a halo effect. I might try making it a bit more consistent in color. This poor woman has an unfortunate nose and a long chin! I was trying to create something a bit different than sketches I had created in the past, which I did, but I might make her features a bit more pleasant to look at. Hair is still a challenge. I don't feel that my end result shows the waves and a bun as I envisioned.
What I learned:
This sketch really impressed on me the freedom charcoal affords in making changes. One subtle example of this is the line of her nose. The darkness and width of the line seemed overdone, especially considering that the background was darker. I was able to remove the line, to some degree, to make it less harsh. I also wanted to refine her jaw line. What I originally had was not only too long, but it was very square and 'blocky'. I refined the shadow, which changed the appearance of the jaw and chin.