Friday, September 10, 2010

KRISTY McNICHOL Portrait - Or How I Spent My Labor Day Weekend

This past week, when I was working on Scooby, I had a pet project that I was doing in bits and pieces. I worked on it mostly on Labor Day though and finished it the other day after tweaking it for the 15th final time. I've been drawing cartoons for so long that the realistic look that I've used before back when I worked at the Franklin Mint hasn't been used in many years now so I decided to try to get back to using those art muscles... and it was a fight!

I decided to do a portrait. Then I decided to pick a subject that had easier hair to draw as opposed to something more difficult. Always good to start with something easy. I was going to draw Amanda Bynes as she's cute and has the most perfect flowing hair I've seen in a long time, but then I thought if this thing was going to take a long time I'd better pick a subject where the interest won't be waning on it a couple hours in so I thought I better make it something even more personal to my liking if I was in for a long haul. As so, I decided to draw a portrait of Kristy McNichol somewhere around 1978-79 I guess when she was making Little Darlings. I've always liked her and she has the best eyes and smile and I also knew that it would be like drawing a caricature and if you don't get the eyes or mouth just right the likeness falls apart pretty quick.

I had plenty of photo reference for her face but then I picked out a picture of her in a sweater that I thought would work better for the mediums and contrasts that I was going to do the piece in, so in the end I "Frankenstein'ed" the piece in a way, which is what most artists do, and I used the sweater pattern which has dark and light tones to it. The piece overall was done on 11 x 14 paper and was done with pencils of varying hard and soft lead (most of the piece is in pencil), some charcoal on a sponge for the background, a white colored pencil, a black colored pencil, and a white conte crayon in spots. I used a kneaded eraser to help lighten the tones in spots to help with highlights such as the ones on her face. And a normal white art eraser for massive erasing when it got away from me. Also I used some rubbing sticks made of the rolled paper (I can't remember what they're called) to blend some of the gradients together. I added the background as an afterthought as I finished the piece and then thought a contrasting background would push the sweater forward. I wasn't sure how I would do the gradient or how high to take it and so I made a copy of the art and then practiced on how I wanted to the background to look. In real life, you don't have an "undo" button as you do working in the computer so I like working on copies of the art first and then when I'm happy I go and do it on the original art.

I worked on it in bits and pieces mostly and I do have to say that I don't recommend working that way since it's harder to pick when you'll be in the right mood to do the best work. I think it's better to work on it straight through if you can and not have to go back and forth between it and something else. All in all, it took me like 4-5 days of playing with it and working it, erasing, reworking it, and then erasing some more. It was a fight in some areas and I spend a loooooonnnnggggg time on her hair than anything else. Hmm, Her face took a long time too actually. The whole thing took a long time! Most of the work was done last Sunday and Monday on it. It looks great when you stand about 3-5 feet from it, since like a painting, you can see all the sketch lines and such when you're right on top of it. I kept stepping back every couple minutes as I was doing it to be sure it was working.

In the end, I think it came out great! Better than I thought it would and it's a pretty satisfying piece to me artistically. I'm sure I'll look at it tomorrow and find something I can tweak but at some point you have to let it go or you'll go crazy. I don't know if I could do it as a paying job on a regular basis as it takes sooooo long and I'd have to make it economical for a client so I'd have to get faster at it. So here is how I spend my Labor Day Weekend... Enjoy!


Bill White said...

Really nice piece, Scott!

I love to read these, "how-to" pieces. I can't WAIT to read one on your approach to a comic book page.

ArtbyAndy said...

Fell in love with her when I saw "The Pirate Movie". It wasn't a huge hit but I was an impressionable kid so... Great work!