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Ron Lemen: Drawing the Female Portrait

Publisher The Gnomon Workshop | Price $49 | Format DVD/Download | Web Gnomon

On a physical level, very little happens in this, the second in a projected series by Ron Lemen on portraiture. You’ll see an unwavering overhead shot of the artist drawing a succession of life studies: one short and one long, for each of three standard views of the head. With the exception of a single charcoal exercise, everything else on the video is rendered in pencil, without the distraction of colour.

On a conceptual level, however, this drawing masterclass is one of the deepest experiences in the Gnomon Workshop training catalogue. As Ron draws, he narrates everything he’s thinking about to achieve portrait studies that feel solid and alive.

The video kicks off with an accessible sequence in which Ron explains some of the core principles he constantly applies in his work. You might be familiar with the idea of using values of dark and light to check your painting’s composition and legibility. Ron focuses here on another use for them: establishing a value scale that enables you to accurately render the tones you see. He also shows three common ways to create varied tones with a line-drawing tool such as a pencil, and encourages you to warm up for a drawing session with quick head construction exercises.

The exercises become more relevant as Ron starts creating the drawings. You’ll see how his head construction principles evolve into drawing features as abstract forms, ensuring you sort out position and scale before worrying about tone and detail. Despite the austere simplicity of the presentation, this is a video that repays close attention and repeated viewing. Despite a running length of nearly six hours, there are few wasted words: you’re in the hands of an artist who has deep knowledge of his craft and the ability to communicate it
with precision. 

Rating: 5/5