Tony’s Sessions

Getting beneath the surface

Tony Mott led a week of portraiture drawing focusing on what is beneath the surface, combined with an expression outside the comfort zone.  The intention is to get to the depth of the person, noticing what is profoundly present, without getting hung up on precision.

First, we drew the muscles of the face from a live model (with the aid of an anatomy book).  Unlike other parts of the body the facial muscles are attached to the skin, hence our facial expression (before plastic surgery!)

Once completed in conte, we moved on the draw the exterior of the face in pencil, on top of the muscles beneath.  The trick is to allow both to co-exist in the final picture so that viewer is drawn to both and sees both simultaneously. ( see the drawing top right)

The next exercise was to draw the head on four sheets of A1.  Working on only one sheet at a time and using 3 pencils taped together.  Once finished the pages are put together to give a 4 ft X 5 ft image (bottom right) .  Working this way makes it impossible to obsess about the fineness and precision of the drawing.  Partly because you cannot see it all and partly because the mark is inherently imprecise.  This results in a more energetic picture style, with a deep focus and representation of the true form rather than a pretty picture(certainly this is true).

HeatherlyPatrick Earle