Drawing Like Nat King Cole and The Strokes

Originally posted on December 9, 2015.

When I go about drawing my charcoal portraits, I do so in one particular pattern.
I will Google search "black and white portrait photography" for inspiration and see whatever catches my attention. Specifically, I will look for any photos where I feel like the subject is holding a lot of emotion inside. I will also search for images where I know I can create lots of shadow in the drawings. For example, I ran into this photo for my latest piece:

Photo by Malte Pietschmann

Photo by Malte Pietschmann

I found this photo very striking. The woman's eyes are locked on the audience in an intense stare, and they seem to be the focal point of the image. I could barely take my own eyes off of hers.

Aside from Google searching, I will blast a particular Spotify playlist on my phone where I get lost in the music. The tracks are mostly ones that I've barely heard on the radio or that I know not a lot of people are familiar with (at least I assume). I'm not sure why, but these things help me get absorbed in the songs.
In order to keep myself alert and focused on my drawings, I'll have the playlist alternate between super mellow and fast-paced songs. For example, Nat King Cole's "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good to You" will play followed by "Machu Picchu" by The Strokes.

Once I have the subject chosen and the music playing, there is no stopping me -- well, except for my adorable little cousins who will sometimes drop by my room to see what I'm working on.

When I'm done, I like to take a step back and take in what I've just created. There's something amazing about turning a piece of paper into a person who comes alive through the sheet. Also, I enjoy the process where I internalize what's in the picture from Google and make it into something of my own. In what resulted below, I ended up softening the woman's stare and adding a bit of a smile to her mouth.

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Now, I like to turn over this one-sided (oops) conversation to you.
What do you do when you go about creating your art? Do you have a set routine or do you like to mix things up?