Charles Reid's books and videos have been a tremendous help to me. Personally, I think his books and videos are the most concise of all the instruction media I've purchased. The books I have are:
- Portrait Painting in Watercolor (Watson-Guptall pub.) Had this book for many years - knew it would come in handy some day!
- The Natural Way to Paint, Rendering the Figure in Water Simply and Beautifully (Watson-Guptall pub.) Reid has a section on his method of contour drawing in this book.
- Portraits and Figures in Watercolor (Watson-Guptall pub.)
- Figurative Watercolours - I view this one the most often. Also covers contour drawing.
- The Figure in Watercolor
Study #1 below is from my first painting session. I was so frustrated with how 'stiff' my paintings were as a result of how tightly I was painting. Of course color is a whole other challenge for me too, but that's another post and the side-view didn't help either. Then I remembered the 1st book mentioned above that I've had for years. I began reading it and was so inspired, bought the other books and videos I've listed.What I love about videos is that I can watch them over and over again - can't do that at a workshop, and it's much cheaper!
Without going into boring detail, I'll just say that Charles Reid's books and videos were a revelation for me in that here was someone, a famous artist in fact, actually encouraging contour drawing. His words jumped off the page as I realized sadly, due to my own insecurities, I had given up this way of drawing some years ago, thinking it was a 'naive' way of drawing. This was just the encouragement I needed to find my own comfort zone within the realm of portrait painting and I couldn't wait to give it a try along with Reid's methods.
Study #2 was done using some of Reid's tips and my old way of drawing and measuring, which is similar to Reid's contour drawing. I was very pleased with the looseness of it. Now that's not to say I've been pleased with every painting since then. Of course there are many times when I go right back to square one, some of my paintings are so awful, I just want to tear them to shreds (and I sometimes do) but I at least know that I'm on the track to achieving looser paintings. Study #3 below was done last week.
I also decided to go bigger with my portraits, which has greatly helped me loosen up and also helped with my paint application, as I use medium to large brushes, mostly mops (the ones I already had for landscape painting) plus a few rounds for starting my paintings. I incorporate Reid's suggestions too, along with all the other tidbits of knowledge and advise we all pick up from our mentors along the way in our art journey. I would strongly encourage (and no, I don't get any money for this), if your interested in portrait painting to purchase/check out at your local library any of Charles Reid's books or DVD's to learn his way of contour drawing if you feel the need to loosen up!