Pencil Sketch: Greta Garbo

| January 3, 2010
greta garbo pencil sketch graphite

Greta Garbo – graphite sketch

Greta Garbo Pencil Sketch

This will be my last pencil sketch for a while. I have decided that I need to get back to the brushes and start making some progress on my painting. I must admit though, these drawing exercises have been a good study in observation and control. They have really taught me to look for the finer details in a piece that make a difference. Working values off of each other and determining which edges to accentuate were among the most valuable lessons I learned.

As you can see, Greta Garbo is an amazingly gorgeous woman with near perfect features by anyone’s standards. I picked this portrait primarily as an eye study. This piece really gave me a sense of the eye’s key anatomy and what essential elements were necessary for describing them. Although the skin tone shifts are very subtle, they are there and are ultimately dependent on the underlying skeletal and muscle structure. I tried to keep that in mind as I blended the graphite and I feel the drawing is better as a result. While planning this drawing, I noticed that her mouth was shifted slightly to the right relative to her nose. Leaning on her left hand may be part of the reason. Critical observations like this were not a part of my artistic vocabulary until I undertook these exercises. Whether we are painting barns, mountains or people, we must analyze scenes with truthfulness and integrity in order to capture the essence of the moment. I believe understanding why things look the way they do in the context of all other elements in the scene will make us better artists.

Further, one of the things I noticed while completing this pencil sketch were the multiple fine highlights and areas of reflected light. They are ever so subtle but are really important to the grand scheme of the drawing. When we paint and draw, we are really just defining form based on how light hits various objects. Paying attention to how light bounces back and fourth between those objects can help bring a piece of art to life. I see it over and over again in quality work and I believe that the intense study of this concept will measurably improve my work.

Happy New Year and wishing you all the best for a great 2010!

Category: Fine Art and Painting

Comments (6)

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  1. Dana Cooper says:

    I’m guessing Marlene Dietrich…your observations about the light and form, specifically form are so spot on….it’s beautiful, whoever it is!

  2. Dana Cooper says:

    Second and better guess, Greta Garbo… 🙂

  3. Lee says:

    Hi Dana! Your perseverance paid off! Marlene was a good guess but Greta gets the prize. The year was 1931 and the movie was Mata Hari. I will pop you an email so I can get the apron in the mail.

  4. jill polsby says:

    Lee: Loved your drawing in Karin Jurick’s wonderful challenge. I’m hoping you’ll contact me because I have a wonderful idea to share. I also drew in Karin’s challenge by way of introduction.
    jill polsby

  5. AutumnLeaves says:

    Found your site through Dana and am just blown away by your beautiful works. Such a treat for these weary eyes.

  6. Lee says:

    Thanks! I appreciate your comment and am glad you enjoyed my work. Take care and hope you are getting rested up!