Portrait of a Man

Pencil drawing, “Portrait of a Man” by Don West, Artist
5”x7”, Portrait of a Man, drawn in a Moleskine Sketchbook with a Blackwing Pearl Pencil.

A fellow artist, Gary Rubin, produces small format pencil portraits and posts them on Instagram. I stumbled upon his work a month or two ago and ever since I’ve admired the simplicity and focus of his portraits. Today I decided to make a master copy of a his recent post to see what I could learn. This is the result and you can see more of his work on his website and at Instagram.

Gary seems to use scribbles and strokes simultaneously in his work so I used the same approach in the copy. I also used a kneaded eraser and the eraser on the Blackwing Pearl pencil to restore and refine highlights I unintentionally shaded. This method relies more on letting the values of all the shapes define the portrait rather than lines. Working all over the drawing, you just pick a place to start and begin loosely capturing shapes and their values as best you can. As you work, things get a little off here and there and you correct as needed to keep the whole within the tolerable zone. Once all the features are in place, the refining begins and typically takes longer than the initial lay-down.

Notice too, that there isn’t a lot of detail line work that defines features, for instance the lips. That’s what I admire most about Gary’s work I think. Simplicity defines complexity to a degree and the viewer’s mind fills in the detail subconciously. He uses this to even allow the viewer to complete the portrait! A lot of the head, neck and clothing is left to the imagination. It works beautifully and one hardly notices a large part of the portrait is missing.

Be sure to check out Gary’s work. The Instagram link consolidates a lot of it into a grid for easy viewing.😉👍

Reference for Portrait of a Man
Gary Rubin’s original drawing used as reference for the master copy.