Term I, Week 4, Head Drawing I

For a description of this unit see my Head Drawing I unit plan. For full context, see the description of my Art Home School Curriculum.


I drew a lot of heads this month. It’s strange how I get so into the topic of the unit I’m working on that I don’t want to move on to the next unit. However, I still think it’s good for me to jump around to different topics because my knowledge gaps are so large. I’m glad I stopped doing the 100 head challenge. I learned a lot about head construction, features, and shading in this unit. Maybe for Head Drawing Phase II I’ll do a 50 two-value head drawings challenge. That would be great practice, and now I feel like I actually have the tools do do the challenge some justice.

I really want to continue with the Watts classes and start Figure Drawing II next week, but instead I’m going to stick to the plan and do Perspective II. I need to wrap up drawabox and solidify the things I learned from Perspective I. Plus, it’s nice to switch mediums. Perspective II will be mostly pen and graphite, whereas I spent the majority of this month drawing with charcoal on newsprint. I like the Watts program because it tells you exactly what to draw. For Perspective II I’ll have to invent my own exercises.


Here’s the breakdown of my schedule for the week. I was on vacation from work, so I had more free time for drawing.

Here’s the breakdown between time spent drawing and time studying. The study time is actually quite a bit more than what I’ve logged here because I watched drawing videos in bed every night this week, but I didn’t count it since I was half watching instead of fully concentrating on the material.

Drawings and Critiques

Monday, Dec. 28

Warmups and heads from imagination.

The heads from imagination just happen organically with no forethought. I just start drawing and the head becomes what it is. I should probably try to visualize something more specific and then attempt to draw it. It’s interesting that they’re all 3/4 facing to the right. It’s nice that there’s a combination of Loomis, Reilly, and Asaro in there.

Two value heads.

I like the face on the male, but it looks like it doesn’t belong to the rest of the head, as if it’s pasted on someone else’s head. The female isn’t bad, but bears no resemblance to the photo. I guess drawing a believable face comes before drawing an accurate likeness.

Tuesday, Dec. 29

Warm ups and skull in gouache.

This was my first attempt at painting in gouache. It is a really enjoyable medium. I was trying to start with a middle grey and then fill in the darks and lights, but I think the values should have been in the 5–10 range (10 being white) instead of the full 0–10. Everything is too dark. I started by trying to use tiles of value, but it looked so bad that I went through and blended most of the edges. I look forward to using gouache more.

Full value portrait.

This is only the third drawing I’ve brought to a “finish” since I started this program. I think it turned out pretty well. It’s definitely my favorite drawing of the week (even though it looks nothing like the original photo). I had a lot of trouble with the half tones. Even the lightest touch I could muster with the Conte 1710 B pencil was too dark and textured. A couple days after this I tried out a Wolff’s carbon 4B pencil and was able to get much lighter and smoother half tones. Since then I’ve been using Conte for the shadows and Wolff’s for the half tones and it’s working out much better. I also tried out a Ritmo B because that’s what Jeff Watts uses in the instructional videos, but it was very grainy and much much darker than the Conte B. I might try the Ritmo and Conte in HB. Also I’m using the bulk Blick newsprint, which I think is not as smooth as Strathmore (but much cheaper).

Wednesday, Dec. 30

Warmups and lip cast drawings

I don’t care for these. It was before I started using the Wolff’s 4B, so the half tones are scratchy and dark. It looks messy.

Lip studies in graphite.

Thursday, Dec. 31

Warm ups and eye studies.

Eye drawings from a cast photo.

These are nicer than the lips. The instructor drawings were done from slightly different angles than the photo reference. It’s interesting to see what the instructor adds and removes from the original image.

Lips and eyes from casts.

Friday, Jan. 01

Warmups and nose studies.

Noses from casts.

I think the nose is the most straight-forward feature, from this angle anyway.

Saturday, Jan. 02


Ears from casts.

I like the ears the best out of all the cast drawings. Maybe it’s because they have the most shadow regions, or because I did them last. I didn’t think these looked very good until I got back from them about 15 feet. The shadow shapes don’t read as well up close.

Sunday, Jan. 03


I’m trying to take note of curves that are more difficult for my hand to execute, and then practice those during the warmups. The right side of a circle is always harder than the left side (as a right-handed artist). Drawing a straight vertical line is always a challenge.

Cast drawing from instructor’s drawing.

This is a bust of Michelangelo, taken to the two value stage. It’s really three values in order to distinguish the darker shapes that are within shadow, but I didn’t go into the rendering phase. This was tough to do because there are so many small details. I would probably simplify things if I drew from the photo as opposed to the instructor’s drawing. It’s a very interesting cast though. His right (our left) cheek is grabbing more focus than I would like. I feel like it’s a bit too wide. Otherwise I’m pretty proud of the effort I put into it. It’s a nice capstone to the end of this unit. I’ll pick up right here for Head Drawing II in a couple months.




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