Portrait of a Young Boy – Sanguine Drawing

portrait drawing of a young boy in prrofile - sanguine

‘Portrait of a Young Boy’ – Sanguine, 15 x 20 cm approx, © adam cope

The Likeness Part of a Portrait – Watteau


Jean-Antoine Watteau ‘ Three Studies of a Young Girl Wearing a Hat’
1716 Sanguine & charcoal

To master the capturing the likeness part of a making a portrait, try doing the same head  three times.  Can you maintain the likeness consistently in all three drawings?

I am humbled by Master Watteau. Not only three drawings but three different angles as well. And look how beautifully laid out on the page they are. Almost like cinema… different view points, different angles. Different moments in time.  Ephemeral.

I’ve not succeeded in doing three on one page. Actually I haven’t yet tried , other than drawing the same people over & over again, such as the three views of Peter (on five e sheets of paper) in the previous post or the evolving suite of drawings of my children over the years, watching them closely as they grow.


Two Studies of the Head and Shoulders of a Little Girl
c. 1716-17; Red, black and white chalks on buff paper, 18.7 x 24.4 cm; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York

It surprises me the speed with which we recognize someone. Even when they’ve aged & morphed some over time  or we when only get a slight glimpse in a funny angle. Bang! We recognise them instantly. What is the mechanism by which see recognize the likeness of someone?

I paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be. – Lucien Freud

Watteau obviously enjoyed doing this type of ‘two of kind’ or ‘three of a kind’ portrait. Again on one sheet of paper :


Cute isn’t she  🙂     I also warn anyone of the difficulties of drawing a smile… very difficult . I once sat for a painter friend who wanted to try this . I had to grin &smile for hours… it was very painful to hold a smile, which, after all, is ephemeral. Passing like all feelings & sentiments, shifting states of minds – ‘passing clouds’ my grandmother used to call them.. That portrait looked horrible too.

And so now to finish-off with, here’s some Eighteenth Century Rock’n’Roll :

Watteau, Jean Antoine (1684-1721) - Homem tocando guitarra, 1717-18

'lili' detail conté 2013 © adam cope

‘Portrait of a Young Girl’ Detail Sanguine © adam cope




‘Peter 2’ Charcoal A3.
Profile portrait © adam cope




charcoal A3 © adam cope




‘peter 3 – Le grand chapeau’
charcoal © adam cope




snaguine profile500

‘Profile in sanguine’
A4 © adam cope




‘Man with a Beard in Profile’
pencil A4 © adam cope


Was happy to be able to pay attention to the profile in these portraits.

Which point comes the furthest forward?

Is the lip further forward than the bridge of the nose? That sort of thing.

Also, to do several portraits of the same person. Do they resemble each other? Is the resemblance consistant across several drawings?

Here & Now

here & now, pencil drawing of a teacher taking a breather

‘here & now’
pencil drawing
a4 sketchbook
© adam cope

teacher taking a breather

Quarter Imperial Sheet
© adam cope
Painting into the dusk. Fading light. Blur & indefinition. When the self feels its way into the soul of the world. The feelings that pass between artist & model.A strictly limited palette. Three colours only. Winsor & Newton. Artists Viridian, Indian Red, Permanent Magenta.

The tonality is pretty good in ‘M’.

Two wet-on-wet ‘selves’ from 2007. Eyes. Passing expressions, ripples in ‘The Creating Water’.

Two colours only. Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna.

‘Self 3’ – Detail . 24 x 32cm. 2007.

‘Self 6’ – Detail . 24 x 32cm. 2007.

Watercolour Portraits Using the Direct & Indirect Methods

An indirect way of working with watercolour. An indirect route. Letting the face emerge out from the wet on the paper. Sometimes lifting off. Sometimes adding on. Sometimes subtracting. Taking away. Moving the pigment around on the page. Backwards & forwrads, feeling the painting unfolding. Nudging it about till the desired expression is staring back out. Look! There’s the face I was looking for & hey…. it’s looking back out at me!
Compare the indirect way with the direct way of watercolouring, where the right wash, the right concentration & value, the right stroke is laid down directly in one go. One pass, then stop. No correcting allowed. No repenting. No recanting. No substracting, only adding. No backwards, only forwards. If it’s right or if it’s wrong… it must be as right as one can make it the first time! Knife edge stuff. Bang on! Raise to the occassion. Meet the challenge. The important thing in the Direct Method is that the power of the brushmark & beauty of dilution isn’t worried or ‘broken’ by nervous timidity.

‘Self 1’


pencil portraits in graphite

Some pencil portraits in graphite


A5 sketch book.

©adam cope



E – drawings of a child

A5 sketchbook – detail
© The Artist.

‘portrait of e’

A5 sketchbook – detail
© The Artist.

“Every child is an artist.” oh yes

later on : see this child when she is older

Sanguine Portrait of a Child

‘Sourire Toujours’
Sanguine Portrait of a Child
Hanhemaille ‘Nostalgia’
© The Artist.
Been off holidaying with my wife & two young children. Family time. We went to Britanny, near Carnac with its standing stones (which really caught my boy’s imagination!) & its beautiful silver sand beaches.

We stayed with some good old friends, a Breton & a Provençale, who also have children. The Mum’s a professional nanny. Sharing the pleasures & woos of parenting. Two families with young children. I did the above portrait of their daughter as a gift to her. I only do portraits only when it feels right. Mostly of friends & family. I enjoy scutinising people whom I enjoy. Would hate to do the ‘mug’s game’ for a living. They were pleased with the likeness. The young girl showed the portrait to all her friends, so it wasn’t a dud. Hope she will still enjoy it in sixty years time. ‘Sourire toujours’. These hopes that parents have for their children. Childhood.

Issigeac People

A5 sketchbook
A5 sketchbook

these may (or may not) amuse any local readers out there… recognise before & after the local elections?

A5 sketchbook

Self 6 – ‘at the end of the day’

Self #6 – ‘ at the end of the day’
24 x 32 cm
© The Artist.

‘…at the end of the day.’

Using up paint at the end of the day. Just practising my craft. Painting with speed. Practising painting portaits — quickly. Nothing psychological. It could have been you … or it could have been me.