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Lauren Coll

graphite pencil and white charcoal on cardboard
10.5” x 7.5″

Lauren Coll Studio

Clara Lieu, RISD Adjunct Professor

Clara Lieu
Art Prof & Partner

Artist Statement
“Emotions speak and manifest in many ways: through words, expressions, language, sounds, gestures, and actions. They are what make us human and connect us to each other. When creating art, these forms of emotional communication come into play. For me, figure drawing is not just about sketching the human body, but about focusing on the emotional state of the model. I draw what I see in the faces and body language of the people who pose; I translate what I sense they internally experience in the moment. What I feel, as the artist, also comes into play and merges to create an image that reflects my vision of the human experience.

The creative process is a window to understanding better who I am. In some respects, every new work is a surprise because as hidden feelings surface through art, I get a more intimate knowledge of myself. Self-knowledge and self-truth are what drive many of my artworks. In this particular sketch, my goal was to capture the resignation and disappointment shown by the model: his reluctant acceptance of what the world is, even if it is not what he crafted. But in understanding his limitations, it is my hope that I can better accept the human experience and go beyond those emotions that stifle my growth as a person. Art is a voyage in self-discovery.”

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Video Transcript

“There’s a quiet, intimate atmosphere to this portrait, which I love. The facial features in the ear are drawn with so much care and sensitivity that I really believe the volume of those forms, particularly in the eye socket.

Be careful that the lines at the top of the head and on the shoulders aren’t so obvious. If you could add a little bit more tone to these areas and try to lose that line I think they would appear much more palpable. I like the drama of the wrinkles in the neck, but they need more shading, I think particularly in the mid tones.

Rethink your placement of the figure on the page, and make sure you include a background. Right now, the background seems totally untouched. You need something there, even something really simple like a gray tone would be really good.

You need to try to avoid placing your portrait dead center, as that’s kind of the first most obvious place that a lot of people place portraits. If you can, consider a less predictable place, for example in the upper left-hand corner or in the far-right I think it would be a lot more interesting. Although, it’s a very beautiful portrait and it’s obviously got a lot of emotion to it so I think you’ve done very well with that. “

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11 responses on "Lauren Coll"

  1. You’re using the white so well in this piece – the key that this drawing is such a good example for is that you’re only using it for the brightest moments, and keeping the paper as another level of the tone.

    Your line work is very effective, and shows a great hand, and I think it can grow further by getting more variation. There are parts of this piece, like the folds in the neck, where your line work comes off as almost outlining the form rather than carving the form of the body into the drawing.

    What really helped me to fix the same problem in my own drawings: listen to music and run your pencil or charcoal across the page – at silence, your pencil doesn’t touch the page at all. When it’s really loud and powerful, poke the pencil through the paper! This is a great way to learn how to change the “volume” of your line work to change the impact it has on the piece.

    • Thank you for your insightful comments, Alexander. I have experienced the problem with line and I have seen it come up on other drawings as well. Rather frustrating to be sure! I love your suggestion about the music. I will definitely try that. Thank you for taking the time to review my drawing and for your suggestions. I really appreciate them.

  2. Covering the face in subtle shadow is really effective for me, and I absolutely believe the gesture without seeing the model in person. The way you’ve distributed the weight and stretch of the models neck to the tension held by the posture is really working, I would love to see even more attention to how the neck transitions to the back, This piece is so well defined, and I would love to see some aspects a bit looser, to continue to find the exact gesture. I love what you note in your artist statement regarding capturing emotion and art as a journey of self-discovery. As you continue to do this work it would be wonderful to see how your hand develops and becomes your version of the world on paper! That is always one of the most exciting things about art making in my eyes, how the artist depicts life around them. Nice work!

    • Annie, thank you so much for your comments and for taking the time to study my drawing and read my statement. I drew as a adolescent, but did not have the chance to “come” to art until later in life. I have learned much about myself on the journey of art and it has helped me to clarify precisely who I am and what I want in my life. It is visual journaling. Discovery through process. I look forward to future interactions with you and the other members of the great team on this website.

  3. A very sensitive portrait! What I really enjoy about this drawing is that you convey emotion not simply through the facial expression — which is, itself, very admirably nuanced — but also through a well-observed detail like the wrinkles on the neck, which hold so much of the drama of the piece. It’s for this reason that I’d love to see a composition that includes even more of the body, as it seems you have a good eye for body language.

    • Casey, thank you for your comments. I totally agree that body language can be as expressive as facial expressions. I definitely need to spend more time doing the body because it does reveal so much. Another aspect of expression is figurative art with landscape that together can be very powerful and moving. As my skills improve – hopefully!- I plan on exploring all of these elements further.

  4. One thing that I really love about this drawing is the way the lips are shaded in so dark. There is a sensitivity or femininity about those lips that softens the entire expression and body. I certainly feel the vulnerability and disappointment coming from the figure. Also, I think the speckles in the paper look a lot like freckles or moles on the skin! Though to emphasize this, it would have been nice to shade in or otherwise change the blank paper surrounding the subject.

    • Lauryn, thank you for your comments and your observations on the piece. It is very interesting to hear different people’s views on a pieces. The paper which I used was actually a cardboard piece from the US Postal Service! I liked the texture and appearance of it and have used it for other drawings as well. Your comment about the background is absolutely true. I think Clara made the same comment on her video. I am now beginning to take into greater account the vignette, as it does make such a huge difference to a piece. On my new work, I am planning out the image, position and background in ways I did not when I was doing this drawing. We’ll see what comes!

  5. I’m really drawn to how you’ve captured the eye socket and cheek bone. The white charcoal on the cheek is really helping create a sense of its form and mass. The line work on the top of the head, neck, and left shoulder seems a bit too much like an outline right now. Think about how these parts of the body can be informed through shading or interior details rather than a rigid line.

    • Deepti I much appreciate your input. Funny that you mention the shading and details. That is something that recently I have been really concentrating on. Technique can be frustrating because I do try to get an effect and sometimes I just can’t seem to pull it off. I am reading more on the subject and hoping it translates visually! But I totally agree with you and I have seen that in other pieces I have worked on as well. Thank you again for your time and input. Much appreciated!

      • You’re clearly doing really well already, so I’m excited to see where you go from here! I would suggest that you just keep on making a ton of work, and pushing yourself in these areas. You’ll undoubtedly improve and discover new, wonderful ways of working.

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