Wednesday, July 29, 2015


This is a continuation of last week's post dealing with 3-dimensional form but here with emphasis on contour line. It's the same pregnant model in both drawings done one right after the other. I don't remember what the circumstances were and which was done first but it's obvious that my mode (or my mood!) changed between one and the other. I may have started fast and loose in the first then settled down to work in a more consistent manner in the second. You can see it's done with more care,  more attention to proportion.  I know it is more true to life. That consistency gives it a sense of completion.  For me it's a "finished" work of art . 

On the other hand there are times when a
looser drawing might be seen as a better one. Sometimes it is better to draw confidently than to draw accurately.
The drawing above gains some strength with distorted features, as if we are looking up at her, and because exaggerated contrast between hard lines, hatched shadows and smooth highlights in the torso produces more 3-dimensional "punch".

Unfortunately other flaws get in the way. The high- lights on her face are not well organized, perhaps poorly observed, so the face does not "read" well. That is much more a problem than the linear distortions of the face. The other, and most offensive no-no for me, is that miserable right hand that looks like a bunch of soft sausages, - it's not convincing at all!  It's obvious I was unsure when I drew it. I guess I'm still learning!

As with all of these posts, if you want to draw well, decide what you like, take the ideas that work for you and spend a good deal of your time in   observational drawing.  Start where you are, with the talent you have and just work at it!

"A curved line is the loveliest distance between two points."   Anonymous

 "Nothing is more beautiful than a line that brings out a form."   Mary Beth McKenzie

Friday, July 24, 2015

Soft figures, Soft renderings.

 Over the years I've found I like to draw round shapes, soft volumes , -  things like peaches, pears and an occasion apple, or as in these works, full figured women. I really enjoy the challenge of rendering the illusion of three dimensional form. Here on the left, a mature lady quite at ease in front of a crowd of artists who are staring intently, measuring, calculating, estimating, - trying to create the illusion of volume on a flat paper surface. While shading is important, here it's the addition of white high-lights that does the trick! Naturally, accurate observation is essential but drawing from life is a great teacher.

The drawing on the right, a very pregnant young woman, shows a bit less illusion of volume over all because there is less contrast between high-light and shadow. Still, there's a definite impression of volumetric weight in those breasts and belly. You know she is certainly aware of it!

"My concern has always been to paint nudes as if they were some splendid fruit."  Pierre-Auguste  Renoir

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." Aristotle


Friday, July 17, 2015

Paul Again

After last weeks post where a favorite model, Paul, was featured in a strong drawing,  I went back into the cob-webbed vaults of the misty past (Old sketchbooks that is) and found these two drawings, - Paul in a couple of his iconic poses.  I drew both of these using a burnt ochre pencil but on the first I went back and reworked it using violet.  Looking closely at some of those offhand violet lines, I think it must have been late in the pose and I was really hurrying! I  certainly overdid it, especially there on the right shoulder, - but still, it's a stronger drawing, - more interesting because of the dual color. On the other hand I really should have been  more careful!

In this second one you can see small additions of orange used in a similar way but much more subtly.  I used it to enhance the shadow under the left arm most noticeably but it barely changes the character of the drawing. Perhaps there could have been more. All is not lost tho' - I'm happy with those hands!

"If you don't make mistakes, you aren't really trying."    Colman Hawkins

"Mistakes show us what we need to learn."
   Peter McWilliams

"Make portraits of people in typical, familiar poses,  being sure to give their faces the same kind of  expression as their bodies. "   Edgar Degas

Thursday, July 9, 2015


This is a quick post with another couple of figures and that simple background I call a "Grill' added. Unusual for me, -  these two are clothed or partly clothed rather than nude - but that is not the point of the post.  Other artists post work in a take it or leave it way, assuming simple interest and acceptance. I'm a teacher as well as an artist so usually want to offer something more and perhaps even receive a bit more in return. Dialogue, whether with others or even yourself, is often quite productive.

As I work on a series, I often put pieces up side-by-side in my studio to evaluate relative strengths and judge continuity. Do you work the same way? The three I posted two weeks ago seemed to work quite well together. These were created as part of the same series but I wonder if they work as well?

Does the one on the left with blue lines pushing up against the figure emphasize the contour too much?  Is the blue grill itself so compelling it becomes more interesting than the figure? (Is that a bad thing?) I think the concept is a bit more creative than the male figure with the dark ground but I do like the way the male figure's solidity is enhanced by the contrast between figure and dark square.

If you were curating an exhibition or editing a book, would you take both of these?  Could they easily exist adjacent to each other on the same wall?  Is there too much tension in the color or stylistic differences, - or does that create interest? (Careful, now! You wouldn't want to bruise my ego!)  - Again, does it speak to you?

"If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature's way."   Aristotle

"My paintings are made up of what remains after eliminating everything unwanted."   Alan Feltus

Friday, July 3, 2015

Historic Branches

While writing about the last few tree drawings, I went back into my archives and found several others demonstrating an interest in trees dating back many years. People in general seem to respond to trees in art as something easily accepted and understood. I particularly enjoy drawing trees like these that exhibit evidence of age or "history". Bent branches and truncated limbs might be interpreted as references to the injuries of work, sports or battle field, connecting our humanity, our frailties and ultimate fate.

In the past, regardless of subject, I worked much more frequently with ink rather than pencil. That one above was done more than fifteen years ago using a very fine nib pen; I'm not sure now what brand. That on the right was done more recently with my old favorite the Staedtler Pigment Liner. Because the work is simple and direct, less fussy than the first, I'm more partial to the one below.  For me it has more interest in it's overall variety and irregular shape. (Notice, tho', I haven't tossed the older one away!) My primary purpose in these posts is to address the act of drawing itself. Your interpretation and subject matter choice is strictly your business. Draw what you will -  but do draw!

"With age, art and life become one."  Georges Braque

"Pale ink is better than the most retentive memory."  Harvey MacKay