Tag Archives: Portrait Drawing

Portrait drawing of Bob Dylan, The Never Ending Tour

Portrait drawing of Bob Dylan another cool drawing of his Bobness ( The never ending tour) to add to my collection. Like most things I do, there has to be a reason.

Portrait drawing, why Bob Dylan?

Let me tell you a story about a man who started work at 14 years of age, he was employed to work on the building of the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, the United Kingdom. This building was officially started in 1904 and ended in1978 after this man retired. This man worked his whole life in the same job, in the same place, for 51 years at least. I can’t remember his name so I can’t find an image to do a portrait drawing of him but I can find Bob Dylan.

Portait drawing Bob Dylan Drawings and the never ending tour.

His Bobness (Bob Dylan) has been doing this also. He was about 20 years old when he hit the New York music scene in 1961 and now 70, a grand total of 50+ years. If you take into account he was forming bands when he was in school, at a time when young people left at 14 or 15 years of age, then it might be 55 or more years.

His Bobness is still at this time, (2011) performing a stage performance on a regular basis and has been entertaining for the past 50+ years. Is that a good enough reason, to do a portrait drawing of Bob Dylan?

Regardless of any cash they did or didn’t make doing their life’s work, it must be seen as an achievement of the highest order, 50+ years doing the same job and being successful at it, is an outstanding achievement.

Bob Dylan has been on a never ending tour all his life having taken a little time off, now and then with sickness, as happens to us all. He tells us that he is just a song and dance man, nothing more, nothing less. One who just sings songs and is not prepared to wear anybody else’s crown. An entertainer, just like Arthur Lee or Julian Beever, artists all of them, so I did this portrait drawing, titled, The Never Ending Tour. Surely it was a worthy cause and good enough reason to do it?

The Never Ending Tour.

The first thought when doing this portrait drawing or perhaps even before I did the drawing, was I did not want to just copy a picture of Bob. That would just be a copy of someone else’s portrait and would not say very much more about the man or his life.

I spent a while doing some quick portrait drawing of Bob trying to find some ideas and get a feel for the features of his face. This is something I often do when portrait drawing as do lots of other artists. I also looked at hundreds of pictures of the man on line, in magazines and books.

Luckily many of my friends are fans of him so there is an abundance of material around me. These people are also like encyclopedias on the man, so I could find out lots of information about him. This helped me build up and hone in on this knowledge base to inform my thinking.

This also gave me plenty of opportunity to discus these ideas and get some feed back from real human beings. As well as what was going on inside my own head.

If you don’t put anything into the box then you are not going to get anything out of it, I always think.

Bob Dylan like many Americans during the 60s had idolized, Woody Guthrie, an American singer, songwriter and folk musician. Woody it seems was a man with a wonder lust, a traveling man, who jumped trains and lived as best he could, at times singing for a nickel or a dime. Bob Dylan perhaps because of the influence of his idol was much the same and spent some of his time with Woody, after seeking him out in New York during the last years of Woody’s life.

During both Wood’y and Bob’s time trains where a big and important part of a traveling man’s life. For both men there would have been a great deal of time spent around trains and stations. The rail road had to be a strong feature and influence in Dylan’s early life as well as well as woody’s. The never ending tour and the railways went hand in hand so had to be a feature in any Bob Dylan portrait drawing and also having a great significance towards it being a journey.

Success is a journey of many events.

The graphite pencil portrait drawing of Bob Dylan below was my first attempt at drawing him. I used graphite pencils, mostly a 2b and 4b. This was only a quick drawing but I do think I captured something of the man as he is nowadays in this drawing. Much older than the young man moving to New York in 1961.

Bob Dylan Drawing Graphite Pencil Portrait.

The more you draw a persons face, the more you learn about it, so it is important to do this when trying to create something original from photographic information. Doing this also helps to find ideas for new concepts and ways of stating something in your drawing, as often they suggest ideas.

All of this together is more than good reason to do some preliminary drawing and also having a wish of creating something original it is necessary for feeding your imagination I think.

I found an image on line of Bob not looking like Bob at all, wearing a woolly hat and a jogging suit out for a jog. It was not your usual image so I had to have a go at drawing it just because of this reason and I was looking for something original. The drawing you will find below is another quick drawing with a black Sharpie marker pen.

Bob Dylan drawing with marker pens.

Notice how I have put the suggestion of other images into the drawing as well, trying out ideas and trying to generate something new from the other drawing by looking for a way of combining them.

The image below was mostly drawn with maker pens, using different grey scale tones, I did the out line sketch with graphite pencil. I tried combining another image of a railway line into the drawing because I was trying ways of portraying something different to make the drawing original. The railway line idea became a good idea when I thought about it after because it would be a significant part of the never ending tour.

Portrait drawing of Bob Dylan with marker pens, the never ending tour idea.

Now I had something to work with I created a photographic type image by combining different images together using a free photo editing software called GIMP Shop, this is the image below.

Bob Dylan Never Ending Tour Photographic Image

When I am working on idea I like to put them together in one place so I can see them all together and then keep looking at them looking for further ideas.

From looking at all these ideas together I came up with the idea that I could use the blacked out side of the face to bring something else into the image and after looking at it for a while I thought that I could make an image of somebody sitting down on a stool playing the guitar. This then instigated me doing a quick sketch of what it might look like and can be seen in the drawing below.

Quick sketch for Bob Dylan pencil portrait drawing.I now had the idea I was looking for, a story of the never ending tour, a younger Bob Dylan and older version, with a railway line between both so I then made the portrait drawing you can see below by taking bits from different photographs, combining them into something completely new.

Bob Dylan, never ending tour graphote drawing of the portrait idea.

Bob Dylan portrait drawing, The never ending tour, 2011.

A portrait of the New York City Musical Landscape in 1961
This image is another idea made from thousands of guitar picks manipulated in GIMP photo editing software. It is a portrait of the New York City Musical Landscape in 1961 in which the young Bob made one of his first stops on the Never Ending Tour.

The video below was another experiment captured with a camera and illustrated with black Indian ink, a brush and some water.


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Pencil portrait drawing of Kurt Cobain.

This pencil portrait drawing of Kurt Cobain was drawn in June 2011.

The pencil portrait drawing was an experiment for trying out some ideas, I made some quick sketches with different tools that where all dismal failures and I should have realized that there was something difficult about this image making it troublesome.

I chose Kurt Cobain, front man for Nirvana, the Grunge band, mainly  because I have had a relationship with him that was one sided as a fan during his and my life, through the television, newspapers, and radio, all with their own brand of creative news.

One starts and they all jump on the gravy train, creating portraits and I am no different except mine is only a pencil portrait drawing.

Here I am doing the same thing as them drawing a pencil portrait drawing of a common old rock star because he is familiar and recognizable.

Pencil Portrait Drawing Kurt Cobain
Pencil portrait drawing of Kurt Cobain before getting to the final detail.

I enjoyed Nirvana probably because nothing good happened for me during the late 80’s early 90’s with guitar based bands and I had drifted off into little fluffy clouds, 808 State, rave music. Kraft Work had become popular again and I had been into them much earlier as well, just like, good night Vienna, Ultravox, guitar music was dead and then came Nirvana, and it was Nirvana. No more Mini Moogs and Oberhimer’s, it was Fender guitars and amplifiers, it was aggression, raw complaints and vague lyrics, “I’m so ugly, that’s OK cos so are you”.

All this and the media portrayal of a troubled soul, leading to his suicide, probably adhered me to Kurt Cobain giving me a good reason for drawing a common old dead rock star, dead but not forgotten.

I chose this image of Kurt Cobain from an Unplugged episode for a number of reasons, one of which was because he was not quite looking at the camera, which I think makes a more interesting portrait of somebody, caught unawares.  The image actually looks like he has been caught day dreaming and he is not actually focused or aware of his real surroundings, I think the image portrays this, whether it’s true or not.

The pencil portrait drawing.

 

Kurt Cobain Pencil Portrait Drawing Finished
Kurt Cobain pencil portrait drawing, after picking out the detail, perhaps the finished V1

I did not realize how difficult this was going to be until I tried to capture it and the eyes caused me problems. I chose these eyes because they where wet, glassy, reflecting stage lighting but only prominently in Kurt’s left eye on your right hand side, those other glints that are there but dimmed out, where difficult to get to the right tone.  The light reflecting in the iris of the left eye was also difficult for the same reasons.

I chose these elements because they are strong along with the stubble and the hair, as my intentions where to only suggest Kurt Cobain, I failed to satisfy these intentions in this drawing I think, yet learned so much more that I will use.

All of these aspects are what makes the drawing good but much more difficult with a need for deadly accuracy to capture the qualities of the subject but I made it difficult because I did not want it to be photographic, either. I had intentionally chosen an image with lots of marks in it, so as to be more able to use hatch marks as well as tonal modelling. This meant there was a lot more work involved in reproducing those marks which was a very time consuming task. I thought that I could just make hap hazard hatch marks to suggest some of the facial areas and I was wrong because it didn’t work out that way making me feel that I needed to do them almost exactly as they were.

I have drawn many portraits in the past and know that photographers usually over expose faces in an attempt at making the subject look better by masking the details with light. This usually produces images that are flatter than in real life showing less shape and form also showing less detail making them less work for someone doing a pencil portrait drawing.

The initial drawing took me about 30 minutes and you can see it being drawn in the video below.

I first toned the paper with graphite dust making it a light grey color or tone. This was done because of the hair being blond and very light but also I did not want to create a drawing that looked like a photograph, I wanted it to look like a drawing with many marks just being suggested rather than definite. Past experience told me that I could do this successfully by using an eraser to draw with as well as a pencil, thus leaving the paper white by removing the graphite with an electric eraser.

I do have a process for doing my drawing which is probably similar to most other peoples but just in case it is not I think it needs to be stated. On most occasions I will draw some quick sketches of what it is I am going to draw, even if I have a photograph, as it helps me to focus my attention by getting things wrong, which in most instances I often do. This process also teaches me about the anatomy of the face and I learn how the elements are connected to each other, giving me practice runs at getting it right, all building up my visual memory of the face which I think helps me see it in greater detail. The whole process is about focusing down on the detail by starting out with a simple drawing, a quick out line sketch then refining it by adding more detail.

After this quick initial drawing I then set to work on finalizing the detail and correcting any discrepancies between the drawing and the photographic subject, by this I mean that I make sure everything was where it was supposed to be. I do this by working through each component of the face; for example, I would take the subjects left eye on the right hand side of the paper and draw every detail as I could see it in the photograph. I always try to work from right to left because I am left handed but anyone who is right handed would be best working from the left, this enables you to more easily see what you have already drawn. It also helps because your drawing hand is not rubbing on the drawing you have been doing thus changing it by smudging the marks you have already made.

I then draw this left eye on the right hand side of the paper as I can see it, trying put every piece of the detail into place as I move around this smaller area, comparing each component in it with each other till I am satisfied that it looks good and close to the original.

Then I move to the other eye to do the same thing but then also comparing it with the eye I have just drawn to make sure it also is in the right place at the right angle being the right size and shape. At this point I begin to see discrepancies in the eye I have already drawn and although I was satisfied with it at the start I soon find faults with it when comparing with each other and the photographic subject.

When I am satisfied that the eyes are right I will move to the nose and mouth working them together along with comparisons being made with the eyes as well, at this point I start to make comparisons with the outlines of the face also. This whole process is slow, laborious and I find it enlightening because it seems to me that as you build you’re drawing, the parts you draw, the marks you make, reveal other marks that are missing in other areas that you have just finished. Areas or marks that you where sure where correct when you made them seem to change after doing some more work in another area and looking again you find they are not as good as you thought they were, so the process of elimination grows more complex and more detailed.

I do not do this process in one go but over a few days by going back to it and doing a little often with the biggest part of the work being visual study and comparison. The largest part of the work has no physical presence as most of it is just looking but it is essential to the end result.

The tools I used in the initial drawing where a HB 0.5 mechanical pencil some graphite dust scraped from a 3B graphite stick, a charcoal pencil and a Jakar battery operated eraser on A3 300gsm water color paper using the smooth side of the paper. The graphite dust was blended in using soft tissue paper by lightly rubbing it in circular motions so as not to leave streaks as I did not want them in this drawing but sometimes I do use them for further interest.

In the seconded stage I decided to use some black chalk pastel instead of the charcoal pencil because it adhered to the paper and other pencil marks better and was better at minimizing the reflected light that comes from the darkest areas of graphite pencil. Rubbing in some pastel over the top of these graphite pencil marks dulls them making them blacker and much less reflective I only used this in the darkest areas because if it is over done you end up with a very different tonal quality. If over done you end up with a pastel drawing and not a pencil drawing but used sparingly it can be very effective, notice the neck and under the chin area, around the ear, as well as the pupils, and top lip. In the second stage of the drawing where I was doing the detail I changed pencil I was using for a Derwent 4B sketching pencil which is a very soft black and layers very well over the top of previously drawn pencil. I also used the battery operated eraser and a paper stump for blending the pastel into the graphite pencil and also blending the graphite pencil it into the white of the paper.

I also experimented with a Derwent 8B dark wash pencil which is a pencil that you can wash out with some water on a brush I tried this over some of the not so dark areas in an attempt to kill the reflected light that comes from graphite pencil marks. This did work to some extent, not as well as the black pastel chalk did but I could not use the black as these areas are not meant to be black and making them black would change the whole tonal quality of the drawing completely.

Pencil Portrait Drawing Equipment
HB 0.5 mechanical pencil, 3B graphite dust, a charcoal pencil, Jakar battery eraser, A3 300gsm water color paper, chalk pastel,Derwent 4B sketching pencil,paper stump, Derwent 8B dark wash pencil.

I succeeded in capturing the essence of Kurt Cobain and also managed to only suggest many strong features like the hair, creating a graphite pencil portrait drawing with photo realistic elements and also bold suggestive pencil marks. I am happy with the outcome as it now presents a better understanding of the 3 dimensional shape of the face giving me the possibility of further exploration and experimentation.

But…

My next victim will be, His Bobness.

Bob Dylan deserves to be immortalized in a graphite pencil portrait drawing if only for the fact that he has been on a never ending tour for possibly the last 50 years of his life, intentional or not that is a feat of endurance and lasting commitment.

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