THE RYDER STUDIO
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PORTRAIT DRAWING PROCESS
In portrait drawing we begin with a block-in of the shapes of the main three main elements of the portrait: the head, neck and shoulders. We use a light, sweeping movement with the pencil. We adjust and correct these generalized shapes, comparing the drawing to the model. We introduce the shapes of the hair and the ears; then we softly indicate the eyes, nose and lips. More adjustments and corrections follow as the block-in gradually begins to resemble the model. Thus, a more and more accurate linear approximation of the appearance of the model comes into being.
This linear structure provides us with an arrangement of shapes within which we then develop the system of light and shadow with hatching and cross-hatching. We start this second phase by delineating the edges of the shadows, lightly filling in the shadows with waves of hatching, then progressively deepening the darker values by cross-hatching. As the shadows begin to darken down, we start to work up into the light, beginning with the darker light adjacent to the shadow edge. We proceed to model the form, both in the light and in the shadow. Throughout this process we study the appearance of the model as observantly as we can, paying close attention to the contours, volumes and delicately nuanced variations in the turning surface.
We work toward a refined resolution of the contour and the modeling. Typical finished portrait drawings in pencil, approximately 2/3 life size, may take from 10 to 15 hours.