What If…Would You Be Ready?

Sketch 20922211

Lilibeth André, Sketch p2, charcoal, 17x14

This week I did some heavy lifting at the easel. I sketched.

If bones are what hold us together, muscle, organs and all, that is what I would compare sketching to. The foundation that holds our two dimensional work together. This very basic and primary work is fundamental to the application of paint.

In my case, I believe that the human form is the most difficult challenge when recreating form on a canvas or any support. In addition, creating a likeness such as in a portrait is double the challenge. It is more than duplicating lines, curves and angles. I like to sense the sitter and try to feed my perception into the work I produce.

Sketch f 4-022211

Lilibeth André, Sketch f 4, charcoal, 24x18

What do I look for in the sitter? I look for their beauty, their strength and their innocence. With me, this creates acceptance and a loving connection with the individual. I try to grasp that force and filter it into my work.

I often wonder, What if you suddenly had to leave this world, would you be ready? If you had an opportunity to return and give your goodbyes, and as you looked back at the path you walked, would you be satisfied? Would you regret anything? Would something be left undone?

I believe that I would want to have loved more and to have created more. With this belief, I remind myself to love more deeply and to exhaust my art material while I am here.

The two sketches here are in charcoal. A very basic medium. I worked on paper and tried to be lose yet firm. With little worry over details, I focused on shaping the sitter quickly and moving on to a new pose. You can see more sketches from these sessions at my website. I was happy with the experience and slept well thinking that for these days, I did what I wanted to do.

WIP 2 And The Games of Life

Red Scarf 2 detail

Lilibeth André, Red Scarf detail

I had a second session to work on Red Scarf and the result was much more to my liking. There was effort to lighten the skin. The block-in was dry and not allowing the paint to spread smoothly. I layered it on creating a new coat of fresh paint to solve that problem.

I reworked the face and made some corrections. Added light and shadow to the hair and did some light work on the scarf and the dress.

This last week was a bit of a challenge with many things happening in all aspects of life. Events shape who we are and how we see things. They reflect in the way we maneuver ourselves. I realize that much of what we bring with us along the way is reflected in our work. As artists, I find that it can give us our point of view and with skill, we can transfer that to the brush, the tool that along with paint, helps us finds what we want to shape onto the canvas.

Red Scarf 2

Lilibeth André, Red Scarf Work in Progress 2

As I stood at my easel losing myself in the geometry of the model’s face, I left behind the issues that had kept me awake and alert analyzing and pondering the games of life. I found that in my feat to master the paint and the brush I danced with the true reasons for living, the energy that I build inside and that will follow me when I go. And for me, that is what painting is all about.

All this with a bit of classical music in the background and suddenly, the likeness of the model was coming through. The modeling of dimension was becoming more apparent and the paint flowed in the direction of the brush, as directed with growing coordination between hand and thought.

In this detail of Red Scarf you can get a closer look. The various colors come together to give three dimensions to a two-dimensional board, in my own handwriting, expressing what I saw through the point of view that is my own.

Quick Sketches and New Work


Lilibeth André, Quick Sketch 1

I did a series of what I call quick “character sketches”. Here are some examples. The idea is to capture the sitter with quick fluid strokes in a short period of time. They are done in oils on canvas panels.

As long as I can remember, I have been a fan of the human face and figure. I have always been fascinated by people. I observe them deeply and intensely. I look at the folds and rise of skin, the curve of cartilage, the indentations and shadow of muscle on their bone structure. I look at the color of their skin and hair. I see the look of the eyes reflecting what is inside.


Lilibeth André, Quick Sketch 2

To me the hands and feet are a key to the rest of the body, the person. They reflect what they carry and what they hold.

These sketches only present the face of the sitters and the goal was to capture the likeness of the individual as much as possible.


Lilibeth André, Quick Sketch 3

In closing, I present a work in progress at the bottom. This photo of “Red Scarf” is from the first sitting with a new model.

I struggled with the nose, mouth and chin until I realized the model tended to raise her chin. This slight movement was not very noticeable but it changed the length of the nose, the distance to the mouth and the length of the chin from where I stood.


Lilibeth André, Quick Sketch 4

The clue that helped me figure out what was happening was the shadow, or the lack of shadow, on the neck from the jawbone. She began in a lower position casting a shadow on the neck and slowly raised her chin until the shadow disappeared. This raising of the chin is typical, especially with non-professional models. What made it difficult to notice was that it happened very slowly throughout the sitting.

Red Scarf WIP1

Lilibeth André, Red Scarf WIP1

I modified the nose multiple times. In the end, I wiped off the nose and mouth. I’ll redo them at the next session with the understanding of what is happening. This will make it easier to correct the model.


  • February 2011
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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email info@lilibethandre.com. Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.