Sketchbook: Quick portraits from the hospital

Updated on 12 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

8 September 2016. While staying in the hospital I had one or two opportunities to sit down outside the main entrance and see whether I would be able to produce something I would call “lightning portraits”. A hospital is not the best of places to go and stare at peoples’ faces in order to draw them, so I decided that I would look at a person for a second at most – after which their sixth sense makes them, invariably, turn their heads to find out why they feel uncomfortable – and then draw the imprint on my mind. Since this method does not carry a lot of detail, I filled a page in my sketchbook with a number of quite small portraits. This is the evil result (Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. People waiting near the hospital entrance, quick ink pen portraits

In our room I took an opportunity to catch my husband lying on my bed, reading a magazine, and my son staring at our laptop while checking the weather (Fig.2 ).

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Figure 2

And finally some people I found in magazines, two famous and two from adverts, in another test to see whether I would be able to capture a likeness and something of a person’s personality in very quick sketches taking between 20 seconds and 2 to 3 minutes (Fig. 3-6):

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Figure 3. Sigmar Gabriel, German Vice Chancellor, 2 minute sketch, pencil
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Figure 4. Hillary Clinton, holding newborn grandchild for campaigning purposes, 3 minute sketch, three different ink pens
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Figure 5. Person miming well-off private jet passenger, from glossy Lufthansa magazine, 20 second sketch, pencil
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Figure 6. Fisherman from Oman, posing on boat, from Lufthansa magazine, 30 second sketch

Part 2, project 4, exercise 1: Drawing and painting interiors – quick sketches around the house

Updated on 2 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

9 June 2016. Now the dreaded time has come again when I am asked to walk round our house on the look for interesting views. Last year, during Drawing 1, I struggled immensely with the pleasing, but awkward to draw or paint, layout of our house. There are practically no views which are not obstructed by parts of the house in a more than inconvenient way. The layout is open, but there are stairs everywhere, which means that it is just these stairs, interesting as the idea might be in general, which render a view awkward. At the moment, for example, I am sitting at my desk in the open office. I am able to look down a flight of stairs into the living room, but can only see half the width of the staircase, the rest is blocked by a piece of wall in the office. At the same time I can see, from underneath, the stairs leading to my workshop. The edge of the ceiling in our living room is where the bottom of these stairs rests and this edge cuts off about one third of the view through the patio door. In a drawing or painting this looks extremely weird, as if I had got my proportions wrong. This is the case practically everywhere in the house, so I had no other choice than have a look in the garage …

Asked to make very quick sketches in my A4 sketchbook using a pencil (rather than my beloved ink pen) I produced 4 sketches each from a standing, then a seated position, turning 45° between sketches. Since there is not a lot of room in the garage, I had to go for a relatively elongated format in order to create a rudimentary illusion of space.

In the images (Fig. 1a-d) below there is first the set from the standing position, top left with lawnmower and cable, hose and some garden tools, top right with barbecue and wet vacuum cleaner behind it, bottom left a failed view on the garden hose, bottom right a likewise failed straight-on view of half of our ping pong table and a bag of hydrophobic cement :o):

Next the seated versions, trying to keep the viewing angles identical (Fig. 2a-d):


Two of the above views I guess might be more or less suitable to use in a painting. Shapes and negative spaces looked most interesting in the view containing the barbecue. In addition, there was a quite nice distorted reflection of the garage door into the garden on the barbecue’s lid. If combining the standing up and seated version to produce a deliberately elongated format, this might be an interesting project. But again, trying to learn from failures in the not too distant past, I must remind myself to keep things simple …