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  • Writer's pictureleocharre .

Alfredo Brunetto

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

Portrait pencil drawing by Alfredo Brunetto
Note the sudden clumps of light on the lower lip and point of nose.

Recently I came across an artist I was very struck by. The technique here that I am most interested in is the visual magic effect of rendering areas of light.

This is a method that myself as an artist have head aches with- the process of properly defining facets, areas of light. Mostly geometrically.

I see a lot of artists do this- it's a traditional method of portraying volume on an object. This is an important skill- because when you pass on to work with paint- it's the same idea to render areas of light with subtle definitions of these areas.

I think this guy does it particularly well. Also, he has a witchy way of filling in areas with lines that is very developed.

I reached out to Alfredo Brunetto and he was kind enough to answer some questions and explain his methods a little bit to us.

Pencil drawing portrait by Alfredo Brunetto
Note the rendering effect, vertically.

Fred, where are you from and what are you doing for work right now?

I'm from Italy but actually living in Spain. I‘m working in a coffee shop and studying history of arts at a non-presential university.

What's your formal training?

I've been studying art at the high school, then I began fine arts study at university but haven’t finished it. I just preferred to join private art ateliers, studios with different painters and learn with them.

I was really taken by looking at your portraits on your instagram feed. There's a consistency that happens from a piece to another. I'm assuming they are small? What size are these works? And what kind of paper do you like?

The vast majority of them are on A4/ A3 format. I feel comfortable with satin/silky paper, 200 gr/m2 but I try using different types of paper and to adapt.

Do you have a preference for pencils? Do you like to use standard wood encased leads, do you use lead holders (mechanical), or do you use at all 0.5mm mechanical pencils?

I mostly use wood standard pencils, sometimes I use a 0.5 mm mechanical one just for adding some details. I'm not picky about a brands- I mostly buy Faber-Castell because they are the ones I found everywhere, and I suppose I got used to them.

I'm assuming you work with various grades of hardness. Do you start with a harder and work with softer after? Or reverse?

Yes, For portraits I usually start with a H2 for tracing all the proportions of the head, eyes, lips and everything. Then when all is under control and it is convincing me, I mark all the shapes I consider most important with a HB pencil, and start increasing darkness until 4B. I use a 8B for darkest parts. 

One of the things I am most taken by is your ability to 'facet', and it's a very advanced method in my opinion. Could you talk a little bit about that? How did you train to learn this? 

I've started understanding painting like a way to simplify what we see when at high school. I was like all the time trying do draw everything like a photograph and get very technically skilled ( and I am very happy and proud about that restlessness) then my teacher started showing me ways to make it simple, to translate everything like basic geometrical figures; until I started figuring out tones, shadows and lights. And it started to happen like when you see a satellite map... I guess that is it. I also got inspired by how tattoo artists use their stencils to place the “sketch” and “map” of their tattoo piece over the skin of their customers.

At what point do you decide for areas of light to leave in the face? When you start, or later? Do  you mark these areas in your mind or on the paper?

It basically happens when I see a picture I like: I just start to analyze where every part and tone ends, where lights got stronger and how everything interacts with each other. Then I start the sketch of it, and see where I mostly want the whole portrait, and when I realize it, I just start drawing ‘till everything is where I want it to be. Then I start making some marks on paper where Im pretty sure of some volumes or shapes, the rest I just go on with a bit of improvisation, haha.

Do you erase? What do you like for erasers? Have you seen the Tombow mono 0 eraser?

I haven’t seen that but I'll look it up- And yeah I erase. Mostly at the beginning of a piece if I'm not totally sure about proportions or shapes, but I try to erase as less as possible. I use a white rubber (eraser), keep it simple.

Do you see yourself making art for a long time? 

I would love it, it is not easy and gotta work hard for it... but I really love it.

Where would you like to see your art be in five years?

In great museums‘ halls all around the world... Nah just kidding, haha! Maybe I'm not so ambitious or maybe I'm to scared to think about that. But at first if there will be anyone who'll be interested in what I do, they'll believe that what I do is worth it- and if they really enjoy it, well- I can consider myself happy enough.


You can see Alfredo Brunetto's art and development at his instagram account..

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