Day 1, Portrait Drawing with Oliver Sin

I took a workshop from Oliver Sin at the Liv and Chiu Art Studio in Berkeley this past weekend. Just on a whim…when I saw a post from the studio on Instagram. And I’m so glad I did. It was a weekend full of ways to work with vine and pencil charcoal.

On Saturday, Oliver introduced vine charcoal. He is a master! His Instagram is filled with vine charcoal portraits of which two are of his parents had won multiple awards.

Oliver stressed continuously to pay attention to shapes and planes – not the individual features.

Oliver begins with a circle about 8 inches and then a “U” shape. This is basically the Loomis method. (He highly recommend that we read the Loomis method in the book, “Drawing the Head and Hand” by Andrew Loomis which is found on Amazon.)

Then he marked off the features – eyebrow ridge and half way between the eyebrow ridge to the chin is the nose. And then half way between the nose to the chin is where the bottom lip falls.
Here Oliver points out the planes of the face; top, side and bottom planes. Plane changes occurs around the nose, forehead, cheekbone and chin.

Below is Oliver’s demo.

Oliver emphasized shapes, planes and values. Especially create a very dark value, value 5 so that it would be easier to establish the other values. I was amazed how dark a vine charcoal can make.

I expected to learn about using the stumps or tortillons for blending. Rarely does he blend. He blends just on the very light values…never the darker values.

Once the drawing is close to done, Oliver uses the willow charcoal for accent. He accented on the nasal bone, eyebrow bone, cheek bone, top of the forehead, the chin and under the tip of the nose at the three-quarter view. On the profile view, what would be accented are the nasal bone, tip of the nose, eyebrow bone, top of the forehead, the chin and the corner of the eye.

Oliver also pointed out the difference between a willow and a vine charcoal are that the willow is darker than the vine and there’s a dot in the center of the willow. Well we all discovered that our vine charcoal package was full of willow sticks instead. They all had the center dot in the center. The only package that had the right charcoal was ones made by Winsor and Newton.

Below is my drawing.

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