Graphite Pencil Study of Mrs. Richard Sears (original by John Singer Sargent)

An important purpose to studying John Singer Sargent portrait drawings is to learn from his loose but confident and purposeful strokes, because his work is spectacular.  From my readings I learned that during 1910 through 1925 Sargent produced some 500 drawings, and many of the portraits are charcoal AND completed in two-hour settings.  His results – stunning.

Today’s drawing is a 9×6 study of Mrs. Richard Sears (Sargent drew in 1912).  My study was done in graphite pencils (F and 2B).  I’ve decided I’d rather draw these studies in charcoal because of how quickly you can cover the surface with a single swipe, and I like the striking visual impact between the lights and darks.

Some personal assessment of this study:  graphite for this study probably wasn’t the best choice, the value ranges were limited (should have used darker pencils ), charcoal would have produced a more striking result especially where her hair is concerned; the tilt to her head is slightly off; I aged her some; her lovely hair style changed; charcoal would have given a darker background to allow Mrs. Sears to standout prominently.  LOL, enough already!  I’ll draw Mrs. Sears again, I learned a lot with this exercise and can improve on this study.

I went way over my one hour limit today, graphite is a much slower medium to work with.  In any event, here she is ~

Study of Mrs. Richard Sears

Study of Mrs. Richard Sears



About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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15 Responses to Graphite Pencil Study of Mrs. Richard Sears (original by John Singer Sargent)

  1. applenpear says:

    Beautifully done – love the softness of her hair!

  2. A lovely piece Mary, my favorite part go to be the hair! That is just superbly executed, soft and fine very feminine and I must mention the eyes, what lovely gaze. I would agree with a darker background would really give a more 3D effect.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Eva for your feedback and assessment – it helps. It’s been an interesting experience drawing portraits, much like landscapes and seascapes – still capturing correct proportions and getting the values right – regardless of the colors. Have a great weekend.

  3. Mary, your work is superior, another beauty

    • Mary says:

      Thank you John, much appreciated – I could see areas that should be worked on, so Mrs. Sears and I spent some time this morning and I’ll be posting an update to her. You are very kind!

  4. You’re so talented. I love the graphite.

  5. sefeniak says:

    John Singer Sargent’s work was spectacular and in case you haven’t noticed so is yours!! Well done.

  6. Painting for Joy says:

    I love how you handled her hair…it looks so real! I’m not seeing “age” in her face either. As for the background, is it too late to add a little more dark with a brush of charcoal on a tissue? Fab work Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Rhonda – appreciate it. I think I’m going to draw her again, only this time at 12×9 with charcoal – A.PROMPTreply analyzed the difference to the tilt of her neck and hair, enough for me to say, okay lets have another go at this. I could just add charcoal with a brush, but not sure I’d get the tilt right – I’ll sleep on this. Have a great evening.

    • Mary says:

      Won’t be able to apply the charcoal over the graphite because it doesn’t stay on that well when drawn on top of graphite (surface to slippery). So it will be a re-do in just charcoal – although I did add more graphite with a lower value pencil, 4B, and adjusted some lines. Still needs to be drawn over, will see take a closer look tomorrow.

  7. A.PROMPTreply says:

    Yes, I can see the changes you’re referring to here. But still…you are very hard on yourself. I don’t pick up the aging as much as you do I guess. She still has those patrician lines in her face…hairstyle and neck tilt different, but still looks like the same girl just at a different moment in time….that’s my opinion anyway. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi A! Thank you and glad you took the opportunity to look up Mrs. Richard Sears – she is very feminine, mine is missing some of that general feel. Drawing free-hand and trying to force myself to “see” what’s in front of me, using my pencil for comparable measurements, etc. For some reason it was very heard for me to see how her head was tilted, is that odd, and the tilt makes all the difference, but you have nailed it. So I may draw her again, but this time with charcoal at 12×9 – knowing what I have to look out for. Yes, will probably do it again sometime in the near future. Thanks for your assessment, you have a good eye.

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