I’m concentrating on portraiture right now. I’ve never been very good at caricature or cartooning without some reference material in front of me, so I am challenging myself to get some likenesses in a personal style. Drawing and painting are not really about technical proficiency, some eye hand coordination, but about seeing. Translating personal vision onto paper is what art is all about. Seeing is something we take for granted but it can be a fascinating subject when you start exploring it. I would like to recommend another great book: Ways of Seeing by John Berger. I feel a tangent coming on, so in the interest of brevity let me share some of the work I’ve been doing with faces in the past couple weeks.

Here are two versions of Tatanka Iyotake, commonly known as Sitting Bull. The typical method for depicting values with pen and ink involves hatching, cross-hatching, stipple or some variation of these techniques. It’s also possible to use a wide variety of textures, patterns and creative forms toward the same end. I like the creative possibilities of using unorthodox techniques for shadow.

Sitting Bull pen ink

Here’s an oil sketch:

Sitting Bull oil sketch

Sitting Bull was a great Lakota chief of the Hunkpapa Sioux nation who resisted the government’s attempt to place the Native Americans on reservations. His mystical vision of the enemies’ defeat and his generosity to other tribes that rebelled at the U.S. government’s terms for their continued survival attracted a large following. Custer’s 7th Cavalry advance party attacked Cheyenne and Lakota tribes at their camp on the Little Big Horn River on June 25, 1876. Over 2,000 Native American warriors had left their reservations to follow Sitting Bull. Custer and his men were in for a surprise and I assume you know the rest of the story.

This week’s pen and ink of the general:

Custer

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