Tag Archives: moleskine

Time Lapse Portrait Sketches

Alan Reed

Charcoal Pencil Sketch

There are no short cuts to achieving sound drawing skills. Regular practise at drawing from observation will pay off in most visual disciplines in art, whether it’s painting, sculpture, graphic design or even photography. Before working on a commission or a painting for exhibition I will often warm up for 10 to 20 minutes with a charcoal pencil sketch of a John Singer Sargent portrait. I’ve drawn dozens over the last few years, particularly as I’ve been receiving more portrait commissions.

I’ve recently started to make time lapse videos of my portrait sketches so that one can see the process on how I draw a face from the start. If you watch the video which is only 24 seconds long, you will see that I draw a faint outline for the shape of the face.

I then make a mark halfway down to indicate where the eyes are to go. I then make another mark in between the eye line and the chin for the tip of the nose. Finally I do one last guideline for the mouth, usually slightly higher than halfway between the tip of the nose and the chin.

Once these are in place, I then start to draw in with greater care the details for the eyes, working my way down the face for all the other features. After that, it’s simply a matter of shading in the hair and drawing in the neck and shoulders. You will see that I’m drawing with a charcoal pencil which gives you a lovely dark, rich tone. I’m  also a big fan of the Moleskine sketchbooks which come in a good range of sizes.

Time lapse videos are quite easy to do and it’s a great way to show folk the drawing process without it taking up too much time.

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Time Lapse Sketches

Alan Reed

Charcoal Drawing of a John Singer Sargent Portrait

When I have a painting day ahead of me I like to spend a few moments warming up in my Moleskine Sketchbook. Usually I’ll have a quick flick through my John Singer Sargent books and choose a portrait to draw. I’ll sharpen up a medium to soft charcoal pencil and launch straight into the study.

The idea is simply to warm up, getting my hand to eye coordination  up to speed before tackling a more finished painting. It’s more about the journey than the outcome.

I’ve recently started to do some time lapse videos on my iPhone so folk who are interested can see the process of making a quick outline of the head before adding the details of the eyes, nose, mouth, hair etc. These videos have been uploaded to YouTube so if you click on the link it will take you to their site. The image above is a still from the time lapse video. The actual real time of the sketch is no more than twenty minutes.

 

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Portraits in Charcoal

Charcoal Portrait of Emanuela

Portrait of Emanuela

Drawing Portraits in Charcoal can be a very rewarding experience, especially when you are working from life. When I have a portrait commission, especially if it’s a child, I find it helpful to do a quick study in one of my moleskine sketchbooks.

Usually children these days don’t like to sit still for even just a few minutes so it’s nigh on impossible to do an oil painting from life of a child. One has to rely on photographs but there is a real benefit in having a couple of sketches to refer to as well.

This study in charcoal pencil of Emanuela is based on a much longer drawing made from life over three short afternoon sittings. It is currently on view as part of my 30th Anniversary Christmas exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a Moleskine sketchbook, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. Another is for some charcoal pencils. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Bomber Command Memorial

Charcoal Sketch in Moleskine Sketchbook

Charcoal Sketch of Bomber Command Memorial

I went to see a couple of fine Edward Seago exhibitions in London recently. More on that later. Whilst on my travels around the city I decided to have a look at the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park.

It commemorates the aircrews of RAF Bomber Command who embarked on missions during the Second World War. The Bomber Command Memorial was built to mark the sacrifice of 55,573 aircrew from Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries of the Commonwealth as well as civilians of all nations killed during the air raids. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth officially opened the memorial on 28 June 2012.

On arrival I was immediately impressed by the scale of the 7 crew members depicted in the memorial and the detail of the flying uniform rendered in the sculpture. Many of the larger bombers like the Lancaster had a crew of 7 so it was only fitting to show a full crew.

I began by doing an A5 sketchbook watercolour. Whilst I was painting it, a retired pilot came alongside to watch me paint. It turned out that his father used to fly Lancaster Bombers during the war.

The Bomber Command Memorial has been designed in such a way that one cannot see all the crew members at once. You have to move about to see them all. I suppose that it could signify that the crew members were spread about the aircraft from the nose to the tail of the plane.

I decided to return to the Memorial the following day when I produced another watercolour sketch and a couple of charcoal pencil drawings in my Moleskine Sketchbook. One of the figures reminded me of my Great Uncle Ronnie who was a flight engineer on Lancaster Bombers.

Many of my sketchbook studies can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland as part of the Art Tour 2014.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a Moleskine sketchbook, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on the link and buy this product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself. 

 

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Sargent – A Daily sketch

Charcoal Sketches

Studies of John Singer Sargent Drawings

Every so often I like to set some kind of painting/drawing discipline to keep on top of my game. Good habits are hard to form and easy to break and sadly the converse of that statement is also true!

I tend to find that my regular sketching habit falls by the wayside, particularly if I’m busy with commissions or working towards an exhibition. However, despite being very busy at the moment working on a series of portraits in oils of City Church, Newcastle members, I’ve decide to set myself the goal of doing some kind of sketchbook study every day for about 10-30 minutes.

The two charcoal sketches above were drawn in my Moleskine Sketchbook and are studies of John Singer Sargent’s Portrait drawings. Making studies of this kind is a great way to develop your own drawing technique, particularly if you are unable to find a willing model to sit for you.

To see my daily (hopefully) sketches, you can follow my twitter accounts @artistalanreed and @adailysketch

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The Response

Watercolour of "The Response"

“The Response”

Every so often I decide to paint a subject which is different to my usual repertoire. Sometimes it can be very personal. “The Response” is a recent painting that has a number of meanings but rather than me explain them all in this post, I’ve decided to leave the viewer to have their own thoughts for now.

“The Response” is a very moving World War One memorial commissioned by Sir George Renwick, a local ship owner. He gave the memorial to the city to commemorate the raising of the World War I Commercial Battalions of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and also to celebrate the safe return of his five sons from the Great War.

The monument is an emotionally charged depiction of the call to arms in 1914. The life sized 5th Northumberland Fusiliers are patriotically marching to war, led by drummer boys and an angel. Various well-wishers, parents, wives and children, some cheering, some weeping gather around the procession.

When I was a little boy, I would be captivated by this scene of soldiers and their families when my grandma took me through the town to see the Saturday morning matinee. The monument cropped up in a conversation about sculptures recently so I decided to make some observational sketchbook drawings in my moleskine of this magnificent sculpture. I became more and more intrigued by what I was drawing to the point of painting a very large 40″ x 30″ studio watercolour.

The more personal aspect of my painting of “The Response” is the group of figures on the right. I’ve painted myself, my daughter Louise and her children Ewan and Anya. The last soldier behind Louise is my Great Grandfather Thomas Reed who served in the conflict. He was shot in the chest but miraculously survived the Great War. He used to carve ships figureheads for a living and was a gifted draughtsman.

The painting can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Rodin’s The Kiss

Charcoal Studies of Rodin's "The Kiss"

Rodin’s The Kiss

Rodin’s stunning marble sculpture The Kiss is currently on view at the National Gallery, Edinburgh on a year long loan from Tate Britain. Last week I decided to pay homage to one of Rodin’s most famous works.

I find that one of the best ways to really appreciate art is to draw it so I embarked on a couple of charcoal studies in my moleskine sketchbook. I then did a small A6 watercolour study which I have since used in conjunction with the charcoal works to produce a larger studio painting in watercolour. This will be one of the paintings on view at my Spring Exhibition starting 13th April.

Almost two hours passed whilst I worked away in the gallery so I barely had time to have a quick glance at John Singer Sargent’s Lady Agnew before it was time to leave.

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John Singer Sargent

Charcoal Studies After John Singer Sargent

Charcoal Drawings After John Singer Sargent

The American artist John Singer Sargent was born this day 12th January 1856. The word “awesome” is used rather flippantly these days to describe things and events that are everyday and somewhat ordinary. John Singer Sargent was truly an awesome painter, an absolute genius when it came to applying paint in what appeared to be an effortless manner. My appreciation of his skills only grows as I regularly make my own studies of his work in my moleskine sketchbook seen above and also oil paintings.

Sargent made his fame on both sides of the Atlantic in the late nineteenth century, mainly through his outstanding portrait paintings of the rich and famous of his day. It’s appropriate to give him a mention today, not only in remembrance of his birthday but also because of the unveiling of the first official portrait of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge. The oil painting was by Paul Emsley who won first prize in the BP Portrait Award in 2007 and although the Duchess gave Paul two sittings, it was painted predominantly from photographs.

Sargent rarely worked from photographs but relied on sketches and formal sittings with his subjects. The result was, he produced paintings that were expressive, fluid, full of light, life, character and, most importantly, captured the likeness and perhaps something of the personality of the sitter.

Paul Emsley’s portrait of the Duchess has received a mixed reaction from the critics. I can admire the undoubted skill Paul has in painting a very lifelike portrait of the Duchess but it is a little too photographic for my tastes. I cannot help wondering what John Singer Sargent’s rendition would have been like had he been alive today.

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Drawing Camels

Drawing from Observation

Drawing of Camels

I thought I’d begin my first blog post of 2013 featuring Drawing Camels by wishing you all God’s blessings for 2013 and by sharing one of my favourite quotes from the American artist John Singer Sargent:

“You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh”.

It’s a statement which every artist will benefit from if applied on a regular basis. Varying the subject matter (sketch everything) gives you a deeper appreciation of shape, form, line composition and tone. Drawing from observation not only helps one’s hand to eye co-ordination, but also helps to increase one’s visual awareness in a way which taking photographs or simply “just looking” does not.

Last year some friends gave a present of two rather unusual sculptured camels, made from what seems to be leather. Over the last few evenings I’ve taken to Drawing Camels in my moleskine sketchbook. These amazing creatures have been beautifully crafted in leather. I’ve used a fibre tip italic pen to draw with which has enabled me to vary the thickness of the line.

You can see that I’ve started off with a very light, delicate thin line to get the basic outline and then intensified it when I’ve been happy with the overall shape and shadow areas. I’ve painted  a more finished watercolour of camels which has also been published as a limited edition print.

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Family Fun at the Laing Art Gallery

The Misses Vickers

The Misses Vickers after John Singer Sargent

I found myself with an hour or so to spend in Newcastle earlier today so I decided to pay a third visit to the Family Matters Exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery. As part of the exhibition which runs until 2nd September, they have a stunning oil painting by one of my heroes John Singer Sargent. I’ve already made some studies in my Moleskine Sketchbook of this painting and a small 8″ x 6″ watercolour (see above) but I couldn’t resist a couple more drawings in charcoal pencil.

Throughout the summer months the Laing Art Gallery are putting on a number of events for children which look like excellent fun for any rainy days that may crop up. There is a terrific exhibition of original pen, ink and wash drawings by Quentin Blake and an opportunity for children to do their own studies in the style of the popular children’s book illustrator.

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