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Portrait of Bill Cosby

JUNE 17, 2010
I painted this portrait illustration of Bill Cosby for Fred Fehlau and the Playboy Jazz Festival.  Along the way, I documented the process by scanning the drawing (1.) then the drawing with shadow shapes (2.) then the added tonal washes (3.) and finally the finished result (4.)

There were no pencil lines laid down to guide my brush drawing.  I draw with a Raphael Kolinsky #8, round sable, watercolor brush, and I start where I like.  
The medium I used is FW Acrylic Inks, and the surface is BFK Rives printmaking paper. The image is approximately 20 X 20 inches.  I started in with Cosby's right eye and worked out towards the edges of the face, as opposed to starting with the shape of the head and working towards the smaller interior shapes. I find that I am much more sensitized to the topography of the head, and the life in the face when I proceed this way.

When I was a student learning to paint portraits, my education consisted of observational drawing, awareness of line, shape, and tone, some proportion, technique, design, composition, the study of color and value of color, and the anatomy of light.
Since then, curiosity and pedantic obligation has lead me to study Leonardo Da Vinci's proportions of the human head, and various anatomists identification of the muscles in the face and head; the obicularis oris, glabella, Levator labia superiors alaeque nasi, dilator nasi and greater alar cartilage of the nose, nasolabial furrows, nodes, orbicularis oculi, the philtrum, yada yada yada.

Of course, anatomy is not drawing, and nothing can replace empathy for people, their character and personalities. For me, knowing correct proportion intensifies the wonder and glory of life's imperfect faces, and knowing something about the muscles of the head demystifies the subtle forms that are the underpinning of the human visage.
Step 1.

Step 2.

Step 3.

Step 4, Finished Portrait

Topical: Portraits  
© 2024 Jeffrey Smith