Art Prompts from Pinterest Part 2
Welcome to part two of this series of sketches based on Pinterest art prompts. In part one, I discussed some Pinterest basics and how useful the site can be for generating drawing ideas. This weekend, I decided to finally dive into my art prompts Pinterest board and try a few subjects. I selected some expressions/photo series of Shaquille O’Neal, John Malkovich, and a non-celebrity model with the intent of putting together a few planning sketches of each, along with a larger portraits.
As it turned out, this was an overly ambitious plan. On several previous occasions (1 & 2, 3 & 4), I’ve worked on two sketches at a time. It’s a great way to keep things fresh, because if I get stuck on how to proceed or just get tired of one, I can flip to another very easily. But this was not only an attempt at working on three subjects, but it was potentially as many as 12 individual sketches on six pieces of paper! I did a good job sticking with the plan on the sketch from part one; I finished three smaller planning sketches, then a large portrait. But my plan quickly fell apart as I worked on Shaq, and I almost abandoned ship with Malkovich.
First, let’s talk about Shaq. Here’s how his large portrait turned out:
Rather than starting with the smaller sketches as I did on the previous one, I went right into the big one. This was probably a mistake. I struggled quite a bit matching his skin tone. Shaq’s skin seems like a deeper brown, but I was worried about losing my outline if I went too dark. I tried to blend some lighter reddish-browns with a few beige and peach variants, but that turned out to be a pathway to a less than accurate tone. By the time I realized I should have gone with more dark umber, the layers were too thick to blend well. At that point a light bulb finally went on: “I definitely should have done the expression/planning sketches.” It worked so well matching the previously woman’s shade of red hair, I’m not sure why I didn’t realize the value. It really would have helped to experiment a bit.
Aside from the skin tone not really matching Shaq’s, I think I captured his overall facial shape accurately. He was making a sort of goofy face in the pose I selected (which is true often for Shaq I think). Goofy or unusual facial contortions can be tricky to draw, but this worked out for the most part. I was a little worried he was starting to look bizarrely like Kanye West (might have been the original hairline and/or the chin), but I think you can tell it’s Shaq. I also forgot to draw his ears until surprisingly late in the game, which should have been another sign that I had taken on too much at once.
Now, let’s discuss where this really flamed out; actor John Malkovich.
By the time I got beyond a basic outline of John Malkovich, I was already juggling five individual sketches on three other pages. Malkovich brought me to six sketches on four pages; again, this is definitely too many for me to handle. At this point, I became a bit fatigued and was ready to finish all of them up. That fatigue is most evident in the Malcovich sketch, which looks pretty rough. First and foremost, this barely looks like the actor; if you showed me this drawing without telling me who it is, I’m not sure if I could guess. On a more basic level though, everything is a little uneven and out of place. His eyes look misaligned, as do the pupils, giving him a googly-eyed look that the actual actor doesn’t have. And the hands are not great (poorly integrated with the color in his jacket), and probably too large. Lastly, what’s up with his left eye brow? It has a mind of its own, and appears to be trying to leave his face.
I even had to go back to the sketch after I uploaded the images and started to write. Usually, the photo and upload process is a point of no return…but I had to bust out the pencils and do some retouching on poor Malkovich. It’s still not great, but you should have seen that first uploaded version! I was able to somewhat fix the mustache and some of the coloring, but major issues definitely remain.
Here’s a side-by-side progression .gif of these two drawings:
This was a good experiment I suppose, because I learned some limits to how many concurrent drawings I can deal with. Two are good and enjoyable, but four (or five or ten) are not a recipe for success. The Pinterest drawing prompt idea was solid though, and definitely something I’d like to look into again. It adds another method for generating ideas, which I always need. Some of my source-generation methods now include:
- My family (sorry everyone, you’re here so I get to draw you)
- My favorite movies
- Pinterest artist prompts
- “Historical” photo Twitter account
- Advertisements mailed to my house
- Internet memes
- Contest winners
That’s pretty solid! I mean, I’d prefer to actually have an imagination that is fully integrated with my pencil hand…but like the Rolling Stones said, you can’t always get what you want. I think the rest is something like, “but if you try sometimes, you’ll get…to sketch some sloppy portraits as you learn how pencils work.”