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The mere mention of portraiture evokes strong responses from artists of all backgrounds. For many, it brings to mind the work of the masters—portraits by Rembrandt, Velázquez, and John Singer Sargent, which rank among the finest paintings ever created. Other artists think about the challenges of working with sitters who are anxious to see how their completed commission will look. It also reminds us of the years of practice and dedication required to master the art of capturing a person’s likeness—one of the most ambitious goals an artist can achieve.
Several articles in this issue take up the topic of portraiture and the creative potential it affords. John A. Parks looks at the recent work of Whitfield Lovell, who combines portraits based on old photographs with antique playing cards and other objects to create beautiful and oblique explorations of the past. Anthony Ryder and Susan Lyon, both skilled portraitists and experienced instructors, offer advice for how to draw portraits and figures in a variety of media. A look at a recent exhibition of artwork from the collection of the Dahesh Museum of Art shows masterful examples—both portraits and multifigure drawings—of artwork created in the European academic tradition of the 19th century.
Another theme of this issue is reflection, and two artists share their development as draftsmen and their own drawing processes. Kenneth J. Procter discusses his decades-long love affair with powdered charcoal—one of the most delicate of all drawing media. Andrew Conklin explains five different types of drawings he creates depending on his goals for a completed work. We close the issue with a reflection upon the great 20th-century artist Romare Bearden, whose collages and studies remind us that drawing is, inherently, a means of expressing thought.
Elsewhere, in our Drawing Fundamentals series, Jon deMartin explains how light and shadow—even just white and black with no other values—create a convincing illusion of form. Seattle artist April Surgent, who employs a rare form of engraving into layered glass, explains her creative and technical process. And we pay a visit to Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, in Connecticut, where the faculty emphasize to their students that artists are creators and interpreters of nature, not imitators.