Wednesday was the end of May and the conclusion of my self-imposed challenge – to draw or paint a face, every day for the entire month of May.
As I promised in my last post, here are the remaining faces – 13 in all – Yes, I DID IT!!!! That girl in the bottom right hand corner just about sums up how I feel about that…pretty joyful!!
This has been a tough challenge for me – May is not traditionally a month where I get a lot of artwork done. My garden is screaming for my attention, Summer is poking its head around the corner and my kids and the end of their (Cyber) School year are demanding my attention left and right in ways that are, well, actually pretty exhausting!
Showing up to do it has been the hard part. Choosing a subject was also sometimes really challenging, because the discombobulating effect of a day swapping around in my various home schooling duties, tends to leave me feeling incapable of deciding anything else for that day! But, the overruling thing, for me, has been that, once I got started, Every single time, I would descend blissfully into the zone and all the stress, angst and whirling thoughts of the day would just drop away – just me and whatever lovely face I had before me and the challenge of doing it justice on the paper in front of me.
So now I am sat here pontificating about what this whole challenge has done for me? Here are a few thoughts that I have had on the subject ~
I have always been someone who can’t stand to show my art to anyone else unless I deem it to be the most perfect effort I can make it. So first and foremost this challenge has been something that has forced me outside my comfort zone and made me show in public, on Facebook especially, pieces of work that are technically on the low side of what I consider my ‘best effort’. Why is this a good thing? Because it helps me get my head around the fact that others don’t see my work as I do and just enjoy it for what it is and often don’t even notice those things that to me, stand out like beacons that scream. “Mistake, Mistake, oh look, she MADE A MISTAKE!!”
I specifically chose faces of random strangers, from https://pixabay.com/, because that way, people viewing them wouldn’t be caught up in the deal of ‘oh that is a good likeness of so and so’ and trying to figure out if this or that relative or friend of mine was an accurate depiction.
I tried to pick a variety of faces, different ages and cultures, boys and girls – To be honest I love all faces, to draw or paint and the main thing that prejudiced me against one picture over another was the lighting of the subject – when you do this many faces in a row, you become hyper aware of what is going to be an easier deal to draw and what isn’t – flat contrast is not my friend and it is true what they say, the best subjects are always those that are well-lit with some good interesting shadow on part of their face. A face is composed of a number of rounded masses and it all becomes very flat in the absence of light and darkness.
I am surprised at how many of these I did in watercolor. I am not really a big watercolor artist, but this medium is relatively quick and easy to get effective results with my tiny paintbox of 12 half pans. I do have it set up to favor portraits and it was an excellent opportunity to hone my skills with this medium before vacation season hits and I am off on my travels with nothing but a handful of sketching supplies and the aforementioned paintbox , a pad of paper and a couple of waterbrushes.
I was also surprised by how well that first face I did with white chalk on black paper turned out – I was just messing about and trying for variety of media and that was the only black piece of Shizen Pastel paper that I had. I have ordered some more now as I liked that better than the later ones I did on the pad of black Canson paper I got.
This challenge has given me a chance to try out a lot of different things in a short time and to compare and learn about what works and what doesn’t – I think it would have been really boring if I had just stuck with one medium and a narrow range of subjects. It even gave me practice at taking ok photos of a broad range of mediums and not always under perfect conditions and often in a hurry!
All in all I am pretty pleased with how this went and I heartily recommend this kind of thing for anyone who wants to try and stretch themselves and find out more about themselves in relation to the thing they love to do ~ Go for it, make your own personal challenge and give it all you’ve got and be prepared for some surprises along the way! 🙂