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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Accountant's Wife

The Accountant's Wife, Graphite,  6 x 8, TMDD Series, free hand drawing
One  30 minute sitting is enough for this one.

No where near as interesting as Maggie's big eyes and aging skin, but  I liked how I caught this gal in mid sentence. The reference lacked  defined forms. The gal was in motion.  I didn't bother with any measuring lines.  I didn't much care about the likeness,but I got it anyway.  What make the accountant's wife The Accountant's Wife is her hair, beady eyes and a mouth in motion.

Yesterday I skimmed by the use of a grid for accuracy.  The grid is an age old way to determine strategic points and angels and lay down a precise drawing.  The system takes longer because it involves working to graphic scale with regards to the size of the reference photograph and the size of the canvas.  The two have to be in proportion.  The units across the top and down the sides of both must match.  With the photographic image divided and the blank canvas divided in the same proportion, the photo is transferred to the canvas by the artist by hand.  In very detailed areas, the larger squares can be divided into four to get smaller squares which will enable a more precise duplication.  

In the painting process,  one must still be alert for errors. They do occur. Grid lines have thickness that throw off the accuracy of the drawing ever so slightly--or as much as a quarter of an inch pending own good the artist is with a T square, or how plumb the stretcher bars are!  The artist must still use her trained eye to check out frequently how things are going.  To minimize errors, the grids must be made with the thinnest possible lines.  Keep the pencil sharp and make sure the canvas is portrait grade, nice and smooth.  This start is the start used in the Venetian Technique. (I'd show you my reference photo and the work in progress photos I took for my Venetian Grisaille, but they are locked in the broken computer making its way back to Dell for repair). It's also used to enlarge or minimize an image.  The grid is a handy tool.

Maggie, graphite, 6 x 8" TMDD Series
She's as Maggie Smith as she's going to get
in this sketch book.


  1. Love Maggie, the drawing, you have softened her somewhat, which to me is a great improvement!

    1. Don't love the accountant's wife? Me neither--not the sketch, her. She's unfriendly--but she does have interesting hair. That's as good as Maggie Smith is going to get. Glad you thought the changes helped. I still see a spot or two, but enough time was spent. My grid info was also given with you in mind should "as close to precise as possible" is required. Commissioned portraits are serious business. Carefree is out. Critical eye is in.

  2. That was a great précis on grid drawing, Linda. I tend to divide the photograph and canvas into four equal quarters, and take a few 'key' dimensions when scaling up

    I have never used portrait quality canvas, yet, if I can learn on the 'tough' stuff then when I migrate to fine-linen from coarse canvas, life should be a dream!

    Going back to the eugenics of the early 20 Century, I wonder how they would categorise the Accountants Wife? She has 'Piggy qualities' and 'Frog qualities', both of which you blend beautifully into an interesting (criminal?) face. I agree, you don't have to like/love the subject to want to draw/paint them.

    You and Ellis Stay warm

    1. I don't think you have to like them. If you do feel something--like, hate, love--for the subject, the artist's emotion will come through. If the artists feels nothing at all, then the subject might as well be a vase or a chair, a still life object.

      The size of the grid squares depends on how detailed the subject. Simple subjects, simple grids. I do like to keep the number of squares to a minimum. I don't like having to do a pencil under drawing at all, but if precision is required, than you do what you must. The artist's reason for painting a subject usually suggests the best start.

      You described the accountant's wife to a tee. I was a bit kinder. :-))