Above: Two Pentel fine-tipped pigment Colorbrush sketches, with shading done with their dye-based brush pens and a Niji waterbrush. Background color is Montana Marker with some washi tape. Click on the image to view an enlargement and read below to see why I've put this image here today.
Since I've already looked at Jean Reno once this week (Wednesday's post on the Kunst & Papier watercolor journal had a sketch of him) I thought I'd wrap up the week with another look at him and a TV recommendation.
First I have to say that I find Reno's face fascinating. Second I have to say that I find symmetrical faces (i.e., the ones that society seems to find more beautiful) almost impossible for me to draw.
Today's post is an example of this. Now one could argue that the face on the left of the page spread opening this post, was my warm up. But I'm not going to be that kind to myself. The actor I was sketching is pretty much gorgeous by all the standard measures of TV "beauty." Just look at that square jaw which is the one thing in the sketch that is NOT exaggerated.
Left: Detail of the Jean Reno portion of the first page spread so you can see some of the layers of ink. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
One could argue that because I was just warming up I didn't have my measuring in line yet and made his eyes too close together and his head too narrow (in some areas) and his nose too long…whatever.
I will just tell you that yes it was a warm up, but I'd drawn earlier in the day and all those sketches turned out wonderful. I just get stymied by symmetrical features. I need a little bit of wonkiness to hide my wonky lines. And there is no hiding when you are drawing someone conventionally beautiful.
I also need a little bit of "wonky" to hold my interest as I sketch. Sketching a symmetrical face typically isn't fun for me. I like to see the wear and tear of life on a face.
After finishing the sketch on the left I spent a few moments watching the rest of the show and then stopped the video (I was not drawing from memory so I don't even have that excuse) and drew Jean Reno, French actor and star of "Jo" a police procedural show set in Paris (more on this in a moment).
I had absolutely no difficulty drawing Reno, five minutes and I was adding shading. (The mid-line on the nose isn't a restatement, there is actually a shift in his nose there and originally I thought I was going to paint over this sketch so I wanted a "note" to remind me of a value shift.) I think we can all agree that the finished sketch bears some resemblance to Reno, while the sketch on the left looks rather like a superhero cartoon poorly sketched.
Will I stop trying to sketch "beautiful" people? Of course not. I learn something every time I try. But I will spend much more time sketching faces that have been lived in, because it is more fun to look at those faces, see those shapes and lines and values of light.
Now about that TV recommendation. I found "Jo" available for streaming on Acorn. There seems to be only one season from 2013. Reno plays a Paris police commander solving crimes that take place at iconic Paris sites. Believe me this isn't a tourist show, it's the standard type of police procedural, where a crime happens and the squad investigates. What is puzzling here is that his crew all seem to be native English speakers and there is no discussion as to why this is—perhaps this is the way things are in the EU now? It doesn't matter to me. I can suspend disbelief for that. I find it so fun to watch Reno act that it doesn't matter to me what is happening around him. The rest of the cast is typical to this genre: a good looking officer (who I'll probably never try to sketch—Tom Austen, look him up!), a funny-goofy-nerd-type, a female boss, and so on. Jill Hennessy has a recurring role as a nun who runs a shelter for battered women. When he isn't solving murders Jo is dealing with his own shortcomings and trying to mend relations with his estranged daughter (to tell you more about her and her mother would spoil the unfolding of things).
I've watched 3 episodes (there are only 8 so I'm rationing them for times when I want to sketch from the TV because you know I'm going to sketch Reno!) and enjoyed them all. If you like the original "Law and Order" (the Jerry Orbach years were my favorite; talk about sketching fun; and he got all the good lines), you'll probably enjoy this show. It's not as snappy, but it moves along at a good pace and has interesting story lines. And who knows, maybe you'll get a sketch or two done too.
Oh, yeah, and it doesn't hurt that as this character Reno has a beard! (Part one of a five-part series on why I love sketching beards begins at that link.)