100 Face Challenge: Study for Madonna with the Yarnwinder (#10 & #11)

I’ve been enjoying copying the work of other artists, and so I decided to try this sketch from the great Leonardo da Vinci.  I tried a quick preliminary sketch first, with a Caran d’Ache Technalo watersoluble graphite pencil.  I wanted to see the lines, so I didn’t hit it with the water at all.   I’m finding I really like the look of a sketch done with water-soluble graphite.    It gives an interesting depth, and almost gives the feeling of charcoal on my mixed media paper, without so much smudging.


The original work was so beautiful that I had to try again, this time with just a B graphite pencil on the same mixed media paper (just different lighting).   I was much happier with this effort.

0109 2

I look forward to revisiting this one again when I can take more time with it.   Such lovely lines in the original!    I’m learning so much right now from the work of others.    What a joy to try and recreate!    I’m enjoying this face challenge so much!

Enjoy your weekend and I hope you dance!

55 thoughts on “100 Face Challenge: Study for Madonna with the Yarnwinder (#10 & #11)

    1. Thank you Jodi! I have so much to learn and lots of practice ahead, but I’m making the journey. Aren’t we all? I so appreciate your vote of confidence, my friend! I feel like a million bucks every time I read a Jodi comment! 💛 This is one I could try over and over, because I know that every single time, I’ll pick up something I didn’t before, and just the thrill of seeing his lines is enough to pull me right back to this image. I just want to sink into it. What an inspiration! I can’t completely fathom that he made something over 500 years ago and it survives. It’s mind-blowing when you think about it. Awe-inspiring. I’m blathering! Hehe. Happy Saturday!

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        1. LOL I still feel the word is too big for me, but I always consider it a huge compliment, so thank you! (((((Jodi))))) Drawing daily has made a big difference for me. I bet painting daily would do the same for you. Even for ten minutes (at least for me with the drawing) daily is enough to see some growth. Of course, patience isn’t in my arsenal lol, so I try and practice as often as I can. That July challenge I did where I painted daily really was helpful for me. Anything you do daily is good, if you wanna get better at it, I guess. Just makes sense. Thanks for your encouragement. :)))

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    1. Yes! Your post is what got me started! I need to see if I can go back and find it; it inspired me so much. Is that where this resides, Kerfe? At the Met? There’s something about his work……I really need to find a good biography about him. Have you read anything you really enjoyed?

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      1. I don’t know about da Vinci’s Madonna, but there are many many Marys to sketch at the Met. I once had an idea I would try to sketch them all…(I was younger then)
        I haven’t read any biographies about da Vinci either, but I’m sure there are some good ones. Probably long! What a life. We could all learn from it, I’m sure.

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          1. Not that many yet. I can never do more than 1 or 2 per visit. I’ve got a long way to go…
            Yes, let me know. I found a Van Gogh bio at a book sale, but I haven’t started it yet (it’s big).

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    1. Thank you, Donna! It feels good to feel like I’ve found an area I can really sink into in focus. Any face feels like home to me, and moreso as I get more practice. There is something about his work in particular that just draws me and I know almost nothing about him. I really need to learn more. His stuff is so incredible. I feel honored to even attempt to copy it! I’m really glad you’re enjoying my faces. I’m just loving this project so far. Your work inspires me time after time, so I’m glad I can do something for you in exchange. Have a terrific weekend!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sharon! It’s so amazing just being in the presence of even a printout of his work. Just staring at it and knowing there are so many things I won’t see until I really look, and study, and copy and repeat. You know? It’s got me bouncing off the walls at present. I start to really understand why young artists are told to try and copy great works. It’s a learning experience like nothing else. I really need to learn more about him. I’m so inspired by his work. I’m babbling again. Can’t help it! They did both bring me joy, absolutely. I bet I could draw this alone 100 times and still want to try again! I’m hoping my enthusiasm for this project keeps building because I’d love to continue this all year. It really does feel like I’m on the right road, (and I needed a road)! I want to thank you so much for your guidance and encouragement, Sharon. 💛


    1. ooh, that’s an idea, Teri! I’ll have to try that, thanks. Glad you enjoyed this sketch! Have you tried Graphitint pencils by Derwent? They were on my Christmas list but I’ve not had much time to experiment with them. I saw a video on the Mind of Watercolor where he did a portrait using only them and it impressed me so much, I wanted to have the set! The colors are all muted. Great for outdoor scenes. Thanks for your encouragement!


    1. Thanks so much, Charlie! Hard, but an amazing learning experience, too! I’m look forward to copying more of his and also John Singer Sargent, as Carmel suggested. I was able to find some beautiful JSS portraits very quickly on G Images, and they are clearer than the da Vinci’s I’m finding. Although all practice is good practice! I’m so glad you recognized her and that you liked it! I was dying to see what you thought! I am so loving this face challenge. I hope I can keep being enthusiastic about faces, because I’m learning so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Love reading how passionate you are for your subjects Laura! It comes through in your art too! I have not heard of water soluble graphite pencils. Sound interesting. Keep drawing Laura! 😍👍🎨🌟

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  2. Brilliant idea and lovely execution. I used to copy drawings from art books, but haven’t done it for ages. It is such a great way to learn to draw and also to really look at beautiful drawings.

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  3. I love how you chose to work from and be inspired by the great master!
    I’m going to say that I enjoy YOUR version more….why? I like your face better, honestly. And the simple fact that you allowed bits of you to show through in the drawing is what I love about Creating art. Well Done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Debi! I’m not sure I know how to respond to this; it blows me away. I really enjoyed sketching this face and it was a learning experiment just to compare the two faces and see the difference between looking and seeing. Every face is a learning experiment! They’re all exercises in seeing. I was looking to try and replicate the original as much as possible, so I really appreciate your comment. It’s making me understand the need for more personal expression in my work. I so appreciate your feedback and I’m really glad you enjoyed this!! I learn so much from your blog and also from your comments here. Your students are very lucky. 💛

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        1. Thank you! I’m so glad you believe it’s there, Debi! I feel like a flower trying to bloom! Thanks as always for your sunshine and water, helping me grow. It means a lot to have your support. I’m really reaching this year, I’m giving it everything I’ve got! 💜

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    1. Thank you so much! His lines are incredible, so true. I am learning more from copying other artists than I probably ever will from simply choosing a subject and trying it on my own. I’m really glad you stopped by and commented! There is nothing like encouragement to fuel the flame.


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