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Blending Blending Demonstration Tortillons

 
Eyes
I bought Lee Hammond's book in September 1996.
I took it home, read the first chapters on materials, gridding, shading and blending and then, using what materials I had, drew my first portrait from a photograph of a family friend. I used a sheet of copy paper from the printer and an ordinary wooden 2B pencil.
Okay, so it's a bit messy, and you can still see the initial gridding in places... but apart from my recent watercolour attempts I hadn't really used a pencil since my school days, 35 years earlier, so the drawing above astounded me on completion... I could actually recognise John.
At the time, I assumed that was as good as it got...

Your first attempt may be a lot better or a lot worse, it doesn't matter... believe me, you will improve.
John 1

Convinced that Lee's gridding and blending technique actually worked, I drove into town the following morning and purchased the recommended bristol board, a 0.5 mechanical pencil loaded with 2B lead and a variety of erasures.
This is my second attempt, it took me about 3 evenings to complete and as you can see it was a vast improvement on the first with more detail in the clothing... hair that actually looks like hair instead of straw thatching and a little more contrast between tones.
The eyes, although slightly out of alignment are an improvement on the usual 'almond shapes' used in the previous drawing.
I even attempted the folds and shadows on the shirt using Lee's chapter on drawing clothing, quite effectively for a first attempt, I thought!...

John 2

Several weeks later and after having read and practiced most of the techniques in Lee's book I returned to the original photograph and produced this drawing... it still took me about 3 evenings to complete but notice all the little extras that I've started to 'see' :

Reflected light on the jawbone beneath the ear.
Hairline blended onto forehead to eliminate toupe look.
Stronger tones giving better contrast.
Smoother blending.
More attention to detail... things that I simply never saw earlier.
And (notice the date... still '96)
From a non-drawer to portrait artist in a matter of weeks. Compare this picture to the first one...
And believe me... nobody was more surprised than I was!
John 3

Over the next eighteen months or so, I became so busy drawing portraits of relatives, friends, friends' families etc. that my skills and speed improved dramatically. I also made quite a lot of money during this period which was a bonus because I'd never actually considered that aspect of it!
The drawing of Norman Wisdom, took me between 5 - 8 hours (over a three day period) and I actually had a photographed copy of it signed by Norman himself. I now keep the photograph and a very nice letter I received from him, framed above my desk.

I continued my portrait drawing for 3-4 years until I eventually drifted into other areas of interest.
I don't, by any means, consider myself an artist, I simply used a method that everyone is capable of using.

This drawing of Des O'Connor was my last portrait, drawn 2001 three years after purchasing Lee's book, a considerable improvement on that initial attempt, you have to admit.
Des O'Connor
 

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