Soft pastel portrait


Took a six hour class in drawing faces last Saturday. About ten students

Minimal instruction but lots of poses from two models to draw. Working fast getting a likeness in as fast as four minutes from blank paper and sheer luxury having twenty minutes to draw a portrait.

This portrait of Chris was a twenty minute pose on A2 butcher's paper using my preferred medium of soft pastel.


rgr[Deleted User]Ronna[Deleted User]ZIM


  • You did a really good job of it. The planes of his face are well defined and you have the form well done also. I love those kinds of drawing classes. It seems like you can get a very good likeness if you don't over think things.
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  • Denis you got quite a lot done in 20 mins...
  • Thanks Martin.

    Oilpainter1950. Thanks. Yes curious how the less you care and fuss the better these portraits turn out. So easy to draw the life out of it. BTW Craftsy have an excellent unit on the structure of the human face by Gary Fagin. (Recommended).

    KevinGE. Yes, I often do use an off white for highlights but in this case the class was being rotated 45 degrees around the model on a timed drawing schedule. In the busy process of observing, measuring, drawing, shading there was just no time for finess. Similarly, I woud have smoothed the striations on the neck, but I was happy to at least get some color on there.

    Marieb. Thanks for your comment. Quite a gruelling day, grinding out a dozen quick and dirty portraits. But worthwhile.

  • Folks

    Here is a very enlarged pic of the model Chris used for the portrait above.


  • Interesting concept. I like the idea of a time limit. As I am learning to draw/paint the hardest thing for me is to know when to stop. I'll photograph the drawing then see something else. I like this, nice job - thanks.
  • Quite impressive for only twenty minutes.
  • Irishcajun

    The shorter time limit is imposed to encourage the artist to abandon tightness and control habits when drawing. This is where I produce some of my worst work. I do not enjoy working fast and the results show it. BUT the improvement starts to show when I start into the twenty minute efforts. A slash here a smudge there and it's a forehead with an eyebrow and hairline. So little by little the fast efforts percolate good technique through to the serious effort drawings.


    Thank you. It could have looked a lot worse if I had forty minutes.


    Butcher's A2 paper @ $0.20 a sheet and a $3 soft pastel and your off and running.
    I bought 500 sheets with the idea of drawing lots, keeping a few and recycling most.
    Some of the best can then evolve into paintings.


  • well if you can get that done in 20, then you can do much more better in 40mins
  • PerfecktPainter

    Yes. That would seem to be the logical outcome. But in fact after twenty minutes the additional tone and detail added, may better approximate the models likeness, however the artistic aesthetic suffers from flattened detail and a dead, overworked appearance.

    If I had 40 min I might stop at twenty and start a new drawing, building on the lessons learned.

  • I usually do sketches of people on my commute on our subway. I would say that my best sketches are the ones I complete in a couple of stops (because the person gets off the train or my view is blocked), which look more spontaneous and fresh. The sketches that I work on for the entire route tend to be overworked and fussy.
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