I found artist Judith Yaws through the various figure models and artists I follow on Instagram. Yaws is a figurative artist with an enviable skill with colored pencils and paints. Recently, she started a Portrait Challenge, offering up reference photos given to her by other artists.
I draw daily as a way to unwind and clear my head and played along, drawing a few of Yaws’s offerings. What follows are some thoughts on sketching Portrait Challenge Day 3 artist Juttama Rie.
The old woman’s face was in clear light – the only shadow sat at her jawline and below, down the end of her neck. There were the wrinkles too, deep rivulets running north to south, east and west at the corner of each eye. The creases across her upper lip were rung like the divots around the top of a cupcake, those areas where the wrapper digs in and sways the batter in taut waves. You knew where her lips began due to the slight shift into a dirtier pink as the skin wrapped inside the the gums and cheek.
A child’s face can be a difficult thing to draw accurately – so much open space, small features. Little to work with. The lived in skin creates interesting shapes as fat dissipates and the skull makes its presence known – the cusp of the eye sockets and rise of cheek and jaw. We all have these features, but they appear with slight differences from person to person.
Sitting down to draw this face my first thought went to her wrinkles – do I draw each one or a distinct few, enough to show age. Which one is more accurate? The answer to that is clearly to draw each wrinkle, or at least draw in each area of wrinkles, meaning, draw some around the eyes and forehead, the mouth, neck, and each cheek. Do not deceive the viewer into believing this woman has no wrinkles on her forehead. Do not draw her lips with more weight and density than they appear to have.
Does accuracy come from exacting detail, or by simply hinting at key visual phrases that the particular face speaks with?