Revised Study of Mrs. Richard Sears Portrait Drawing

I couldn’t leave well-enough alone and just had to go back in to see if I could work the portrait drawing a bit more to get a closer likeness to John Singer Sargents’ drawing of Mrs. Richard Sears.  Let me just say, lol – she has become my own Mrs. Sears (older and a bit stiff she doesn’t seem to be as relaxed as Sargents’ as a slightly tilted head is very tough to draw) but I’ll take it and move on.

Several features were worked on:  her nose angled more downward, lips and chin brought in slightly, and finally her neck muscles redefined.  Lower values were brought in to darken aspects of her hair and to draw hair strands, and to emphasize her dress fabric folds and rose decoration (used 4B and 8B).  At this point I can’t totally change the angle of her head, too late – one of the lessons learned here, get it right before anything else is drawn so changes can be made.

The paper finally said enough already, it couldn’t handle any more graphite.  Charcoal can’t be added on top of graphite, because the graphite’s slippery surface or I would have used it for the darks.  Sargent did his drawing in charcoal and got a spectacular result.

Here is the updated result and original Mrs. Sears study.

Revised Study of Mrs. Richard Sears

Revised Study of Mrs. Richard Sears

Study of Mrs. Richard Sears

Study of Mrs. Richard Sears



About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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31 Responses to Revised Study of Mrs. Richard Sears Portrait Drawing

  1. violetski says:

    Love your portraits paintings dear Mary!
    I haven’t draw portraits so much!
    You inspire me to practice more❤️

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Violet – I’ve a clue why my interest turned toward portraits, but I’m glad for it. The experience has been good, forcing me to pay attention to values and shapes/forms as I have not done before.

  2. Gallivanta says:

    I am admiring your versatility, Mary. One post you are on seascapes, then it’s rocks and then you can switch to portraits! Amazing.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you very much! I guess it’s my Gemini nature, need to switch to keeping pumping the enthusiasm and curiosity ~ appreciate your compliment.

  3. The revised version is definitely more lifelike with the finishing touches. Especially the shadow along the jaw.

  4. Great to see you working with portraits, and Sargent is an excellent teacher. I keep a giant book of his work in my studio to inspire. Well done.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you very much Elena, I’m fascinated by his charcoal work. To me, you are one of the foremost premier contemporary portrait artists out there today, by far – from technicals, to the ease of strokes, to the incredible use of color. I could study your work for hours.

  5. dorannrule says:

    I like your revised version much better. She looks so much more alive! There is more feeling and depth too.

  6. M-R says:
    Thought you’d love these photos, Mary the talented … One of my favourite blogging photog.s.

  7. I think the darker lines add much more feel to the portrait in the revision! This reminds me of what my mom and her friends looked like when I was a kid! 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Patsy! The original drawing was done in 1912 and for the life of me, I couldn’t draw her hair if you paid me, the style was unusual lines and I think eyes-hand coordination wasn’t there. I think Mrs. Sears has taken on a stern look in my drawing (ha!), she was so sweet and feminine in Sargents’ drawing – I’ve got some work to do (a lot of work to do!).

  8. Francesca says:

    Lovely studies, Mary!

  9. Painting for Joy says:

    Ah yes! Love the revisions!

  10. M-R says:

    Yep: better !!!! 🙂

  11. ladyfi says:

    Wonderful sketches – you’re doing great.

  12. joergkruth says:

    Great study, fine expression!

  13. Be patient with yourself, dear Mary. When Sargent was commissioned to do a portrait, he required eight to ten sittings of the person….he visited their home, got to know them, even checked out their wardrobes and suggested what they should wear for the sittings….he had no still photograph to help him as a reference, but made many sketches (apparently he was unusually good at drawing with a brush.) He complained that he couldn’t draw and paint quietly, with no talk. You can go back to your subject anytime…she won’t say anything…and she looks pretty dang good!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Cynthia for your kind comment and observation, very much appreciated. I can’t tell you why all of a sudden I decided to spend some time drawing portraits – wasn’t on my radar, but when something strikes me I kind of go with the moment (could be my Gemini style). I’ve learned a lot with these two, the charcoal really intrigues me sort of like the chiaroscuro style – I like the dark drama. Your discussion here about Sargent is fascinating and interesting, and now I understand his quick sketches he did that are so excellent to study from. I would like to learn more about Sargent, do you have a source to recommend? While his oil paintings are incredible, it’s his drawings that I’m fascinated by and using a magnifying glass shows closely the strokes in his pieces. Thanks, I really enjoyed your bits and pieces here about the man.

      • Well…most of the books on Sargent that I know about, feature his paintings; only a few are exclusively about drawing, and not all of those are portraits. The only one I know of, that is dedicated to his portrait drawings, is the inexpensive one by Dover Art Library. To get a real feel for his drawing (as well as interesting bio and working details), I would recommend one of those big, fat, heavy,(expensive!) books put out by a museum; these are primarily about the museum’s own collection of Sargent’s works, but the beauty is in the great care they take with photo-reproduction of the very best quality..the next best thing to going there and seeing the actual drawings. One that has a really good collection is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. You go, girl! This is an interesting new phase!

        • Mary says:

          Well now the book I purchased is the Dover Art Library portrait drawings – so I selected right. Will hunt around and see if I can find something on Sargent that would give a sense of his character, like I got on Monet (which all three were bought at museums or his place at Giverney). Thanks so much Cynthia, it’s fun – but I’ll add charcoal portraits in with my other art work. I guess it’s a way of progress, didn’t expect but very much am enjoying.

          Have a lovely evening, we are enjoying a long await severe storm that is on the verge of tornado winds (lots of destruction around here).

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