One to Another

July 30, 2009

072209 / 072809 Joe and Hilary

Filed under: --Joe & Hilary, 1-Progress/Sessions — pendantportraits @ 10:57 pm

For the time, Joe and Hilary have a bi-coastal marriage. Joe’s here in town from LA for an extended summer visit. Joe posed first, on July 22, and Hilary posed the next week, July 28. We did three drawings during Joe’s first session and two during Hilary’s.

As a visual artist himself, Joe knew to place small pillows at pressure points (sitting still does not come easily to him). Hilary had an exquisite sense of her pose during every moment. Her training as a dancer and daily yoga practice were evident; she was energized in her stillness. I worked longer on Hilary’s first portrait, which meant that I only had time to make companion drawings to the first two portraits of Joe.

I worked quickly on the first drawing of Joe. I’ve known him since our undergraduate years, so it seemed natural to make eye contact with one another. I used HB and 3B graphite. Hilary’s tucked-chin pose is one that she assumed naturally, and she said that it’s an aspect of a meditation pose. It inspires me to capture the shape of her head in this subtle position.

Left (above): Hilary’s Husband (first pose), graphite on Fabriano Ingres, 12 1/2 x 9 1/2″ (40×32 cm), July 22, 2009.

Right (above): Joe’s Wife (first pose), graphite on Fabriano Ingres, 12 1/2 x 9 1/2″ (40×32 cm), July 28, 2009.


For his second posed (at right), Joe faced the north studio window, and crossed his arms to help stabilize himself. He sat in the channel-back chair with my worktable between us (gently implied foreground). I drew a 9 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ oval in pencil (using a pre-cut mat as template) on a page in the 17 x 14” sketchbook, and after Joe arrived, spray-toned the sheet with diluted Golden diarylide yellow and Liquitex fluorescent orange for a low-tech airbrush effect. I turned the paper upside-down to utilize the movement of the spray to best effect. Although I quickly disregarded the oval, its presence affected the scale of the figure within the field of active paper tone. I used graphite to ‘glaze’ Joe’s t-shirt as a local ‘color,’ and to enrich selected areas; against the bright warm tone, the graphite has a distinctly blue cast. A few vertical lines in the back suggest Joe’s crutches within arm’s reach and provide a minimal background.



Left (above): Joe’s Wife (second pose), Conte pastel pencil and graphite on acrylic toned ground, 17 x 14″, July 28, 2009.

Right (above): Hilary’s Husband (second pose), Conte pastel pencil and graphite on acrylic toned ground, 17 x 14″, July 22, 2009.


I followed the same steps for Hilary’s second companion drawing (left, above): penciled oval > acrylic spray toned ground > Conte > graphite. The spigot was clogged on the sprayer that I’d prepped with color for Joe’s drawing, so I changed to another one that had a different spray pattern. We moved the channel-backed chair to the south side of the room, so that the lighting on Hilary would complement the lighting in Joe’s second drawing. This also placed her on the left, authorative side. Hilary’s composure inspired me to take on a more complex pose, almost a full-figure portrait. Louie (the most charming red Dachshund in Baldwin Park) wanted to get up on her lap; we compromised and got him to sit next to her. To make room, she pushed herself off to the side as far as she could. Even though Lou eventually jumped down, her seated position implies his presence. Her left arm is outstretched and her left hand hangs off of the armrest, recalling Frans Snyder’s hand in Van Dyck’s portrait of his friend and fellow painter. I used Conte pastel pencil for most of the drawing, shifting to 3B graphite in the final stage to achieve the feeling of the color blue and to correspond with the media used for the companion drawing of Joe. My favorite area of the drawing is the space between the back of her knee and the chair. Hilary is in the middle of a major creative project herself right now, and it may be a long time before she can pose again.

My husband came home while we were working on Joe’s third drawing; consequently, it became my portrait of Joe grinning at John. I used silverpoint on a chalk gesso panel (Panelli).


1 Comment »

  1. […] on exhibit in Pennsylvania Filed under: Related topics — Sandra Reed @ 5:21 pm The companion portrait drawings of Joe and Hilary were selected for exhibition at the Lore Degenstein Gallery at Susquehanna State University in […]

    Pingback by Reed’s companion drawings on exhibit in Pennsylvania « One to Another — November 14, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

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