Portrait workshop with Mandy Tsung

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Last weekend I went to (half of) a portrait drawing workshop led by Mandy Tsung at Hot Art Wet City gallery. Yay drawing! (I missed the first day because I was feeling crappy, but managed to get to the second day with a ton of support from Bruno, and I'm very glad that I did!)

I used to draw people a lot when I was younger, in my teenaged years and into my 20s, but for some reason that really tapered off when I was working in the web industry (and also spending a lot of my free time in web-related volunteer work). So, when I saw this workshop coming up, I had to try it out - it was also only in the afternoons, which felt so much more manageable to me than the often all-day marathon weekends that art workshops tend to be. As much as it was a bit of a push to get myself started, after a while it all came back to me.

I did a bit of practice drawing last week, just to get the portrait juices flowing, and was pretty happy with the self portrait I did (third try, the first two were totally mangled!):

practicing (self) portraits after a long hiatus from drawing people

The first day, half of the class was a demo that Mandy did, drawing in front of everyone, and the second half was where everyone started their own portraits. I was definitely behind on day 2, but Mandy gave me a few ideas on how to approach it, and I just dove in. One of the main things she talked about was how to start out with just shading instead of lines - this made me realize (and I think she was pretty shocked to hear this) that I really don't normally do shading!

As you can see above, I really typically do a line drawing for the most part, and then colour it in, so starting out with shading was extremely unnatural feeling for me. I tried to focus on shading and also proportions (Mandy explained a quick way to measure and align everything to help avoid having to redo so much later on). 

I decided to work on drawing Bruno in the workshop, as a few times when I've been drawing he's suggested I draw him, but I was so out of practice I didn't want to! It seemed like the perfect time since I had some extra support.

I'm still not done the drawing, but here is how it was looking after the workshop:

in-progress drawing of Brunno

Brunie! <3

I know it looks a little creepy half-done, but you get the idea... This is the photo I was working from (right) - I didn't realize how challenging it'd be, but between the glasses, teeth, and blond eyebrows and lashes, I definitely have my work cut out for me. Luckily, I can't get enough of this face!

I've worked on it a bit more since then, but it's not done yet - I'd like to really "finish" it since I've put more work than I usually would for a portrait into it already, and it's going well.

It was really nice to be challenged with a specific project and do something a bit different, and also work in a "class" environment again. I had such a crappy experience with trying to take classes at Emily Carr last year (two were cancelled and I dropped the other two), and I just can't physically handle regular in person classes right now, so this was perfect.

I was also a bit nervous before the workshop about what level I'd be at in relation to the others there. Though they were all doing amazing work (and I think some were in art school), I felt like I was really able to "keep up". Better yet, I found myself not paying a lot of attention to what everyone else was doing. This was a nice change for me, because in the past I've felt so self-conscious in situations where I was making art in a group. I think it's a good sign both that my anxiety is more in check, and that I'm starting to feel more confident about doing art.

All in all, a great experience, and I really hope that HAWC gallery does more of these kind of workshops!