Choosing a Model: One Portrait Artist’s Opinion

I recently shared with you the work of Edgar Jerin, which I discovered in Art Journey Portraits and Figures: The Best of Contemporary Drawing in Graphite, Pastel and Colored Pencil.  Because it was so hard to narrow down my coverage to only one portrait artist, we’re sharing the work of another today. Brian Smith’s Portrait of Corinne (below) is one of 100 works that made the cut, and it’s my pleasure to share it, and his interview with editor Rachel Rubin Wolf, here with you.

Drawing by portrait artist Brian Smith

Click here to “pin” Portrait of Corinne (pastel on midtone paper, 24×19) by Brian Smith, featured in Art Journey Portraits and Figures

RRW: Did you work from a photo, live sitter or both?
BS: This drawing was created with a live model in my own studio–there is a spontaneity that happens when I work with a live model as opposed to working from a still photo (even one of my own photos).

RRW: How did you determine which medium to use in this piece?
BS: I have been working in a classical drawing method utilizing burnt sienna and white pastel pencils on a midtone paper for almost 50 years now–it’s the medium I’m most comfortable with.

RRW: How does your relationship with your subject affect your working style or the outcome of the work?
BS: I choose my models for several specific reasons, not the least of which is the dialogue that can happen between artist and model. I want to work with a model with whom I can develop a relationship–even if it’s only to last for the short time of the pose. I’m not inspired by models who are unengaged in the process. I find that if the model is unengaged, it’s very difficult for me to stay engaged.

RRW: What does portraiture teach us about life and art?
BS: I’m constantly amazed at how different we all are, even though we all have the same basic “equipment”–two eyes, a nose, etc. We recognize people when they walk into a room after only knowing them a short time because of the size, shape and placement of these same elements. And yet each one is different. As a portrait artist, I will–happily–never run out of subjects to draw.

What an inspiring sentiment! Now we have no excuses. Get your copy of Art Journey Portraits and Figures for more inspiration, and use the techniques and advice to draw more portraits.

Looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labor,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
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