1000 hours of art

I will commit a minimum of one-thousand hours to improving how well I draw and paint between 2012 and 2013. I intend to start by learning and re-learning the basics of classical drawing by making studies from Charles Bargue's Cours de dessin.

See the gallery of my artwork produced so far.

0hrs left

55 hours of working in colour

Submitted by Sam on 13 December, 2012 - 00:04

Yesterday and today I have been working on the chair and the wooden table in this painting, and I'm really happy with how they're shaping up, despite having spent a relatively small amount of time on them. It's so much easier to gesture towards texture, volume and pattern than it is to render it accurately! 

Mary work in progress

Submitted by Sam on 5 December, 2012 - 23:56

27 hours of work done on my new oil painting. I have spotted some proportional errors that I need to correct, but this shouldn't take too long. I love how much freedom oils give to revise shapes, colour and tone - much more forgiving than working in pencil, where too much rubbing-out or lines drawn too heavily would ruin the paper.

Tomorrow I'm going to buy a very fine brush so that I can add the detail I want to the face and hair.

New oil painting

Submitted by Sam on 2 December, 2012 - 23:25

I have started a new piece, with just under one month to go until the end of my 1000 hours project. I don't think I'll finish it this year, but I'll try! It is going to be a 40x30" oil painting of my Great Auntie Mary. It's great to be working in colour again after so long working in pencil. Here's where I'm at after 15 hours of work.

Art is never finished, only abandoned

Submitted by Sam on 30 November, 2012 - 00:14

I can see a few areas in this that I might return to in the future to alter and touch-up, but for now, it's finished! I need some time away from working on it to see clearly what needs doing.

Jess and the work-in-progress portrait

Submitted by Sam on 6 September, 2012 - 22:51

Slow but steady progress

Submitted by Sam on 30 July, 2012 - 21:39

Since the last update, progress seems to have been slow. I lost a lot of time trying to get a smooth gradient in the upper left, which for some reason proved surprisingly difficult. I've moved on to the more complex areas recently, and feel like every few strands of hair I define has been making a marked improvement to the overall piece. I'm looking forward to having blocked-in the whole hair, then working in some highlights using an eraser.

180 hours - Portrait update

Submitted by Sam on 6 June, 2012 - 23:32

I'm about 180 hours in to this pencil portrait. I have spent a lot of time in the past month adjusting the darkness of the apron in order to give the shadows the intensity that they need.

Since the last update, I have also made an attempt at the hair, which is phenomenally intricate. It's going to take a long time to get right!

Overview of Jess portrait - 6th June

I have been using a 5B to make the darkest shadows as black as possible. 

Apron detail from Jess portrait - 6th June

Portrait progress after Easter

Submitted by Sam on 9 April, 2012 - 21:11

I have spent another 25 hours on my pencil portrait, and still haven't rendered a single part of it to a finalized state. I'm happy with where it is going, but progress is slow. A1 really is big, and even 45 hours of work gets stretched thin!

Pencil portrait progress: Jess in Apron - 45 hours

Below is the detail of the apron. Whilst it looks patchy here, it comes together nicely when viewed at a distance. I intend to shade everything as carefully and as accurately as I did in my Bargue plates, which will ensure the finished picture looks good even when viewed up close.

Detail - Pencil portrait progress: Jess in Apron - 45 hours: A1 pencil portrait after around 45 hours of work. No part is 100% done yet, I still feel like I'm just sketching in the base layer!

Pencil Portrait - Beginnings

Submitted by Sam on 2 April, 2012 - 16:56

I'm taking a break from my Bargue plates, and drawing something new. I've spent around twenty hours on a portrait of my sister, working from a photograph I took in December 2011.

For the first time I'm drawing upright on an easel (rather than horizontally on a table), and on a big scale. I'm working at A1 -- whereas my Bargue plates were smaller than A4 -- and I'm using correspondingly heavier paper. At 300gsm it is twice as weighty as my Bargue sketchbook pages, and it is able to take much more aggressive erasing and re-working. This gives me confidence to lay down lines that I know can be altered later, and the large size allows me to be much more expressive when sketching out the initial form.

As the paper is so large I have drawn guidelines to separate it in to thirds to make sizing easier. I am currently refusing to use a ruler or tape-measure to precisely map the enlargement from source image to final drawing, as this feels like cheating. I instead measure relative lengths against a small paintbrush. 

Pencil portrait progress: Jess in Apron - 20 hours: Work in progress: A1 pencil portrait on 300gms paper of my sister Jessica. Working from a photo I took over the Christmas holidays in 2011. Around 20 hours of drawing so far.

Here is the sketching and rendering so far. I need to fine-tune the facial features, which are distorted at the moment, but I'm happy with how the shading on the fabric is going so far; see the image below for a close-up.

Detail - Pencil portrait progress: Jess in Apron - 20 hours: Detail of dress and apron. Work in progress: A1 pencil portrait on 300gms paper of my sister Jessica. Working from a photo I took over the Christmas holidays in 2011. Around 20 hours of drawing so far.

Jess A1 photo reference: A photo I took of my sister whilst she was getting some food ready over Christmas 2011. Taken in my Grandma's house in Barton-on-Sea, New Milton.  I used a Nikon f/1.8 35mm AF-S lens on a Nikon D5000 (1/250th of a second shutter speed at ISO-500). This photo serves as the reference for my first A1 pencil portrait.

Here is the original photograph from which I am working. I desaturated it and printed it at A3, and have it taped next to the drawing to use as a sizing reference. Unfortunately the printed version has lost a lot of the tonal depth, so I use the digital version on my laptop as the source for values and detailed areas.

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