Pencil sketch of a woman with head tilted back and a lock of hair falling down her face

Faces Sketched in Pencil

Like many of my artistic exercises, this one too started with a spur of the moment decision within a conversation. It’s true this conversation was more of an exchange within online comments, but that still counts. That’s how I found myself drawing the first little portrait in pencil, in a fairly thin-papered small sketch pad, picked up from the the local Daiso.

The visual composition of the first portrait is what struck me, and wanting to explore it more freely than my usual pen drawings would allow, I chose pencils after a long time. Pencil sketches are a long time coming, of course. For most of my artistically dabbling life, pencils were always my medium of choice. It just so happens that since I’ve been active online, my experiments with pens began as a method to boost my drawing confidence and that has stuck in recent times. Now back to using my first love, graphite, there were rediscoveries to be made.

While I set out on the first sketch, I was fresh from drowning myself in Pinterest for a while and a lot of the very strong line work I found and shared there were on my mind. That’s the reason I made a very concentrated effort in stylising the face with the minimal of lines and shapes. I wanted to achieve some of that clean graphic look I love, and I got quite close for a first serious try.

The portraits that followed were done at the same small 11x16cm size, and they were all done over the week after the first one. It was nice to explore drawing at a reasonably even and comfortable pace, though I restricted myself in other ways. There was the size of the sheet, and there was also an attempt to be light with my hand. The paper I was using was relatively weak and I didn’t want to scratch into it or to leave indelible eraser smudges on it.

The light approach worked, and while I teetered back and forth between line and form through the various sketches, I did relearn many things about the human face, still a favourite subject of mine, and I rediscovered the pleasures of using a pencil, with the sheer variety of line and tone it can provide.

Doing these concentrated explorations of one subject or form in a variety of ways is a good approach to learning this I’ve found, and I will try to do similarly in future experiments. For now, enjoy the lines and keep track of more regular updates on Facebook and Twitter.