I tried something new over the weekend - and pushed all of these tools aside:
Because I was going to make Eyedropper Portraits.
They are quick and fun and really free up your inhibitions -- the result is very loosey goosey. If you get paralyzed at the thought of drawing because you fear that You're Not Doing it Right or that the result is not photo-realistic or accurate enough and, therefore, no good -- then you should give this method a try.
Here's what you need:
1. Eyedropper and small dish
2. Some waterproof India ink. Here's my well-used bottle:
3. Some small sheets of watercolor paper. I cut up some cold-pressed paper into 4"x6" rectangles but you can use hot-press if you like.
Gather a few photographs or magazine images to use as a reference if you don't want to depend on your imagination. The goal isn't to copy a face but just get an idea for a pose, expression or proportions. I pulled out a copy of Vogue and also had some snapshots of my kids.
Add a few squirts of ink to your dish and fill up the dropper.
Oh wait, I forgot one more item:
Yeah, that is what you think it is. A roll of toilet paper:
Tear off a length of about 2 squares. Make a small pile of 2-square lengths, one for each portrait you plan to paint and keep them at the ready.
Now, using the eyedropper as your pen, draw a contour-line type drawing of the face in your reference. Release just a few drops of ink as you go. You're not really squirting a lot of the ink on the page so much as just dragging the dropper and occasionally squeezing out a little bit of ink to keep the line going. The ink will pool in some places, the line will vary in width. Don't fret about stray marks or drips.
Now quickly, before the ink can dry, drop a length of toilet paper (2 squares is just right for a 4"x6" piece of watercolor paper) right on top of your drawing. You don't have to blot it, maybe tap lightly in a a few places to make contact. As you know, toilet paper is pretty absorbent and it will sop up the extra pools of ink without much effort --
Then lift the toilet paper straight up off the drawing:
The blotting removes some of the excess ink and will alter the line somewhat -- which is good! The result is always unexpected.
My first effort didn't change that much from the blotting, but I like it. It's loose and fresh and I set it aside to possibly add some watercolor when fully dry.
Then I set out to do a few more:
And then a few more:
And then a few dozen more!
The more I did, the more comfortable I became with the ink and the better they looked. I think I had close to 50 by the time I was done.
Next time, I'll show you the result when I add watercolor to the line drawings -- tho' some are beautiful just as they are.
A big thank you to artist Carla Sonheim, for the idea for this exercise which is included in her wonderful book, Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun.