Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Enough drawing for a while. Never thought I'd say that since I actually prefer drawing, but it just seems like time for some color. Watercolor in this case. Since there were no watercolor portraits last week that strikes me as a good choice.

14 x 18

What I wanted to do in this was show that early morning light and the calmness that goes with sun up. I love that time of day when the world is just waking up. Too bad it comes so early. There's usually a beautiful calm golden light, not as harsh as later in the day. Add a little bit of ground fog, and I'm ready to go.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Pile of Portraits

Let's look at a few more drawings this week. Instead of full figures maybe some portraits for a change. And just to mix it up, how about a variety of media. I may use all the labels today.

Why do I use different media? Sometimes it's a matter of size. Silverpoint is good for smaller things, charcoal works better bigger, in my case at least, and pencil works for everything. Sometimes it's just a matter of, "I haven't done one of those in a while." Perhaps not the best of reasons, but it's all I got.

Pencil on Stonehenge paper

Charcoal heightened with white chalk

Silverpoint heightened with white gouache

This is me after all. There has to be a silverpoint drawing.

And for those who are wondering if I have forgotten how to paint.

Oil on canvas
16 x 12

I had a tough time photographing this one. Hope I got the correct picture.

As it turns out these are actually pretty good likenesses. You might recognize a couple of the models. The last is Elandria. She's been here at least twice before. And the first is Jessica who you might recognize from some earlier portrait studies. Thanks to all my lovely models.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Studies in Charcoal

Last time I mentioned that large figure studies in pencil may not be the best idea. Pencil works fine, but it just takes a while on a larger scale. That's why charcoal is used so often. You can lay down larger areas of tone much quicker, and it's relatively easy to model 3-dimensional objects.

Personally, I have a love hate relationship with charcoal. Love the look, hate working with it. For some reason I've just never gotten comfortable with charcoal, but I'm still trying to get there. So here's a couple of my more recent attempts. All in all I think they came out fairly well. It just seemed like it was more of a struggle than it should have been.

I'm experimenting with papers for charcoal too. This is a full sheet of the Strathmore 500 series. It's not a bad paper at all. I've used it on and off for quite some time and really have no complaints. It's a pretty good all purpose drawing paper.

This was done on a piece of Hahnemuhle Bugra. I've been wanting to try this paper for a while, and finally got around to getting some. First off the sheets are about twice the size of the Strathmore. If you want to do some big work that's a good thing. For me and the room I have available to work, that's really too big. Nothing says I can't cut it in half though, so I did. It's marketed as having a rough side and a smoother side like Canson Mi-tienes. And while that may be true, both sides are much toothier than that the Canson. Not necessarily a bad thing but something to be aware of. For me the biggest thing was the softness of the surface as compared to the Strathmore paper. It takes charcoal and pencil quite well, but it's real easy to scuff up the surface. So be a little gentle and keep erasing to a minimum. Actually that's probably a good idea regardless of the paper you're using.

Monday, August 9, 2010

He's Baaaaaack

He's back. What's happening? Has hell frozen over, is it a cold day in July? That can't be it, it's pushing 100 and besides it's August. Maybe I just finally got around to taking some pictures, and it just seems like a good idea to start up again. So here goes.

Ever wonder what goes on during these long breaks? What's that, you don't. Just as well since nothing exciting has been happening. So let's come at this from a different direction.

I operate on the assumption that one can never draw too well. Since I'm nowhere close to drawing too well and actually testing that assumption, I draw a lot. I do quick sketches that no one will ever see and a fair number of pretty highly finished studies. Let's start off this rebirth with some figure drawing.

Why draw figures? Why not? When it comes to drawing practice anything will do, the important thing is to do it and observe and record carefully. If you draw a tree or a pile of fabric you can get away with a certain amount of errors. Does that branch really go in that direction? If you really pay attention and do a careful study those errors won't be there and it suddenly makes absolutely no difference what you draw. With a figure though, there is less latitude. While bodies do vary, an error in proportions will just look wrong. There is a constant battle to render a solid 3-dimensional form that actually looks like a figure with all the right pieces in the right places.

So that's why I do this kind of figure drawing. Fairly tightly rendered and studied to the best of my ability. Ideally that ability will continue to improve, that is the object of practice after all.

Both of these drawings are pencil on Stonehenge paper in the 30 x 22 inch range. Given that size, pencil may not have been the best choice of medium, but it gets the job done even if it does take a while. I rather like the idea of having a drawing that I can go back to and chew on until it has been carried to the degree of finish desired. When doing one of these I always think back to my school days when a teaching assistant informed my that no one likes doing careful drawings like this. Well, I do.