Make Pencil Portraits for 30 Years–How About That?
Leaving China for Hong Kong after winning a major painting competition that could have set his career skyrocketing, Mau-Kun Yim instead left his mother country with only the clothes on his back. He eventually became a lauded teacher of drawing in Hong Kong and his decades of pencil portraits are sure to astound you as they did me. But it isn’t just his work that it is provocative. It is also his teachings. Here are a few of Mau-Kun Yim’s tips on pencil portraits that you can use right now to make significant improvements in your art.
-Use a B pencil to define the boundaries and outline the head. Switch to a 3B or 4B pencil to add value to the dark areas and further reﬁne the middle tone areas.
-The nose. A common mistake is that we sometimes make the nostrils too dark and too defined. The nostrils should be inside the nose in the shadow.
-The eyes. The highlight on an eyeball is very small. If you make it larger than it should be, the eyes look dull and the drawing will lack life.
-Aged skin. Wrinkles should not stand out and need to appear in sync with the rest of a drawing. They also need to correspond to the shape of the forehead. Focus on conveying an impression of these wrinkles, not making every one of them visible.
-Select details to make great art. Rendering details is not recording every single detail like a camera; it includes addition, subtraction and rearrangement.
-Don’t make the dark areas too dark in the early stages; instead, replace the dark with gray so that it’s easier to modify the dark areas. Once the dark areas are defined, the foundation of the drawing is done.
According to Mau-Kun Yim, “A painter who doesn’t like painting defies the imagination. A painter at work is just like a farmer tilling the field or a blacksmith striking the iron. So it is with me and drawing. You may call me an “artisan” if you like, but I agree with what Rodin once said: “If you are an artist then you can’t possibly be anything else.””
If Mau-Kun Yim’s words move you as they do me, take this opportunity to get your copy of his book, Lessons in Masterful Portrait Drawing. Seeing the work up close and having access to the teachings of this amazing artist as he creates pencil portraits that can only be described as beautiful and awe-inspiring is why he created this resource guide–so that you can put yourself directly on the path to do the same. Enjoy!