Saturday, November 23, 2013


Our grocery stores are overflowing with pomegranates this week. The ones we get are grown here in California; they're so exotic and beautiful—and festive.

I'm hoping to do a more detailed drawing of one, with its beautiful jewel-like seeds, but with Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I'd better get a quickie drawing done just in case I run short on time. And since I've been interested in doing more "loose" drawings lately, my time crunch may be a good thing! (Drawings on black paper are really tricky to scan accurately, and even this photo that I took with my iPhone bumps up the color a bit too much, but it's closer to the original.)

If I do get a chance to do another drawing, I'll post it, but in the meantime,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Life drawing Meet-up: Week 1

As I mentioned in my last post; I've just started attending a weekly life-drawing group that I found through It's been years since I've done any figure drawing, but back in college, I did quite a lot of it—and loved it. I was so excited to buy a big, fat pad of newsprint and get out my various charcoals, conte crayons and such.

Here's what I took:

And here's what I actually ended up using:

We had a wonderful model; her 1-minute warm-up poses were very dancer-like. When she took breaks during the hour-long pose, she marked her placement with little bits of tape, and was amazingly good at re-positioning herself. The pose at the top of this post was a 15-minute pose, and is my favorite of the day. (Drawings on 18 x 24 newsprint are a little bit challenging to photograph, but you get the idea...)

The 60+ minute pose (below) is a little overworked in places, and the chest area looks a bit too boyish, but I do like how the leg area turned out. Oh, and can you tell that my weakness is drawing faces? (Maybe I should be taking a portraiture class.) I feel that when I draw a so-so face on an otherwise acceptable drawing, the so-so face is all you notice. So I left this one blank (and, of course, it's all you notice!). Next week I'll practice shading in at least the basic planes of the facial structure.

My main goal for this first session (besides having fun) was to try and at least get the body proportions right, and I felt pretty good about achieving that, for the most part—and I definitely had fun. The ten 1-minute warm-up drawings (below) are such a great way to start; they really do help to sweep away those brain cobwebs and get focused.

The one thing I miss from a class with instruction is having a group critique. And you don't really get to see others' work unless you walk by during  break, etc. But those are very minor complaints. The "regulars" were very welcoming to the two of us that were newbies. There were six of us drawing, and  the cozy studio had lots of natural light—is there a better way to spend an autumn morning?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ruts, nuts and guts

I'm in a rut.  It's not a bad rut, really—I still love spending hours on a detailed pencil drawing—but lately I've been yearning to return to a looser style.

Maybe it's because I recently unearthed a huge stash of my old drawings in my basement (photo below). As they are over thirty years old and have been through a basement flood incident or two, they're mostly browned and brittle and water-damaged. There are pads and pads of drawings, and while many should have been tossed long before now, there are still some drawings in there that I love and I found myself wondering: Could I still draw like that? Am I—thirty years and one Parkinson's diagnosis later—still capable of that loose style?

So, I grabbed a bowl of nuts and told myself that I could only spend 15 minutes or so on a sketch of them. To challenge myself further, I decided to draw with white pencil on black paper. I ended up with the little sketch above. It's fine, but it still felt way too tight to me.

I kept thinking about those old drawings, and the fact that many of them are from the numerous life drawing classes that I loved in college. So, I went online and found a weekly life drawing meetup in a local artist's studio—and signed up! My first session is this Thursday, and I'm a little nervous about drawing in front of strangers again, and drawing the human form for the first time in ages. When I worry that I'll totally bomb, I tell myself that my rusty skills won't return overnight, and "It's the process, not the product", but it's still going to take some guts to walk through that studio door.

I'll keep you posted. I'm trying to find a way to photograph and clean up some of the oldies, and if I'm really brave I may post some things from my Thursday session.

Or I may lose my nerve altogether and spend two days drawing an eggplant. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Merry November

Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore Bristol Vellum

Well, at least I waited until after Halloween.

I adore autumn and Thanksgiving, truly I do. But my orange pencils are tired, and I want to get a jump on some holiday drawings. So, while I'm happily getting organized for Thanksgiving, over on my drawing table it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Candy canes are classic beauties.  My family always eats them on our drive into the nearby Santa Cruz mountains when we cut down our Christmas tree. We hang them on our tree, as I did growing up. Let's face it—one just can't have too many candy canes around the house during the holiday season. 

I always buy (and draw) Bob's candy canes; they still come in a great old-fashioned looking box. Check out this site for Bob's products as well as some delicious candy cane history.

Yes, I'll definitely be celebrating Thanksgiving in a big way. But the next day, right there alongside the leftover turkey sandwiches, you might just find a candy cane or two.

Here are a few WIP shots; I used a lot of Prismacolor Verithin pencils on this piece; they're great for finer lines as well as burnishing. I was able to get just the shadow  that I wanted with a base layer of Indigo Blue topped off with Tuscan Red Verithin.