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Category Archives: Drawings

I am following Heather on her blog. She is studying drawing and has been practicing value studies and making marks to describe form. This runs hand-in-hand with what my students started last week.  I decided to take a black and white photo of clouds (thank-you Wet Canvas!) and practice some mark making of my own. I introduced my class to the marks made by Degas, Van Gogh, Seurat and a few others that are found in the pages of Bert Dodson’s Keys to Drawing book. We spoke about how we needed to try and find the mark making that best suited us. I decided to try some mark-making of my own.

 2H, B and 6B pencils

In this study I drew my marks all one direction laying line next to line and going over areas that were to be darker with a softer lead pencil. I found this to be very tedious and time-consuming. Notice my angle strayed off to the right in the upper right hand corner. Bad me! 🙂

 2H, B and 6B pencils

In this study, I used the sides of my pencils. This was the quickest method to get these shapes and values down. In the past, this is what I see my students doing. Makes me wonder if other forms of mark making are too tedious and confusing for them in the beginning.  My other thought was that this form of shading comes in handy for a thumbnail sketch, done quickly, for a larger finished drawing or painting.

 2H, B and 6B pencils

This way was, by far, the most fun for me. I tried to imagine the form of the clouds I was seeing and attempted to emulate their contours and gesture by allowing the point of my pencil to scroll over and around them. I like the feeling of roiling clouds that I was able to capture with this mark making. Note I made my strokes over the sky flat. I saw no form in that and made my marks to reflect that.

 2H,B,6B pencils and gum eraser

In this attempt, I used crosshatching and incorporated curved lines laying next to each other as well as layers of lines going the other way to build up the layers of midtones and darks. This took longer than the contour/gesture study but was shorter than the lines laid next to each other study.  I like this study because it incorporates the contours as well as gives furthur definition to the cloud forms and allows me to achieve better values in the sky. I used a gum eraser to lightly touch up some areas around the rays and to soften some areas within the clouds.

      Self Portrait

    My Son

    Life Drawing

   Life Drawing

   Life Drawing

Echostains Blog has recently posted about an artist who paints faceless figures. Take time to check the post out here. The artist she researched leaves his figures faceless for different reasons than I did.

I believe I have mentioned on a previous post that I learned to draw by drawing figures. I took from a very talented teacher who suggested we learn to draw by choosing subjects we believed we never thought we could draw. I chose people. The above drawings were done in 1981. I had taken drawing classes for a year’s time by the time I drew these and my drawings were largely of people.  About a year into drawing, I hit a wall and was frustrated by my figures and not seeming to grow very much. Instead of telling me I had hit a brick wall or saying to me that she did not like my faces, this teacher said, ” I wonder what would happen if you left the faces off?” I went home that night and drew the first drawing you see, above, titled self portrait. I was off and running and did not look back for about 6 months. Everything I drew had no face. If I drew my family, I left the faces out or drew their backs. If it was at life drawing sessions, I left faces out and began drawing figures over figures and portions of figures. What I learned is that I was concentrating too much on the face and missing the whole idea of the pose and the majority of a figure. This was a freeing exercise for me and one I will never forget.

Another artist who does faceless figures is Duck Billed Platitudes found here.

Jake was truly “one” man’s best friend. He is missed.

I am not a pastelist but took a couple classes in pastels a few years back. I manage to use them more as a drawing medium than these beautiful layered paintings I see accomplished artists create.    For class, we were instructed to watercolor a background on coldpress illustration board and create our pastel on that. This was mine.

Reno is a black shepherd of a friend of my daughter.  I was asked to see what I could do with graphite and Reno’s image. I have to say that the photos I received drew me right in to wanting to try this project.  The above image was my first attempt. I used Stonehenge 250 GSM vellum finish paper and 2B thru 6B graphite pencils. I began the drawing with contour line and some light cross contours trying to build up his form. For the intial line I used the 2B pencil pressing down a little on those lines I wanted to be evident in the final drawing. Next I built up his coat with textured strokes trying to mimic his coat. I built the darker areas up with cross hatching and some cross contours across the bridge of his nose. I used 3,4 and 6 B pencils to do this. I next used a kneaded eraser to smudge out some of the detail in his coat in the bottom right hand corner. I built the background by scratching in loose abstract marks with the side of a dull 3B pencil. I then took my 4B pencil and scraped over a piece of rough sandpaper allowing the pwdered graphite to collect on a sheet of note paper. I took a non-lotioned kleenex and picked up the graphite powder I made and began to rub it into the background. I left the background light around his nose and head and darkened the remainder with several layers of the 3B powder. This process also took the edge off the random marks I’d made earlier but still allowed them to show through.I did not smudge the portrait and had to be careful to not rest my hand on his head throughout laying in the background.

I had always admired drawings I had seen on gessoed paper, so I decided to try one with Reno, above.  I used a bristle brush to apply acrylic white gesso to a piece of Aquarius II watercolor paper, making sure I applied the gesso in abstract strokes running different directions. This leaves the artist with a textured surface to work on. I then drew Reno again using contour and cross contour line. The graphite looked darker on this surface right away so I began with a 2H. I then began crosshatching the forms of the darks in gradually working up to a B pencil and finishing with a 3B. The texture of the gesso supplied the textural qualities you see in this drawing. I had to be careful to not rest any portion of my drawing hand on the work as it immediately smudged. I did no rubbing to produce this image. I thoroughly enjoyed working on a gessoed surface and will use this as a support for drawing again in the future.

I sprayed both drawings with Matte Fixative to prevent smudging with handling.

Thank-you, Chrissie, for introducing me to Reno!

Sometimes I work in ink and wash. This is a griffin I  drew from a Schleich collector toy that I set on a stack of  books across the table from me.  I wanted to see if I could capture the leg and wing on the left side coming toward me and make this creature look believable. I used india ink and a dip pen for the line work and a brush for the washes and thick texture around forelegs, neck and head.

I don’t know if it is something in the air in Indiana, today, or just coincidence, but Ryan has just posted a phenomenal and complete ink and wash of a woodland scene and has written a great story to go with it. Take time to check it out. It is worth the trip.

My sister’s (Nancy Williams) book, Yoga Therapy for Every Special Child, is about to be released! Congratulations Nancy! I hope you reach out to many by sharing your program this year and in the years to come.

When Nancy began writing her book, she asked me to illustrate it. I drew and redrew to attempt to tailor my drawing skills to what she needed to best illustrate her text. This consisted of creating  simple line drawings of yoga poses to go along with her approach to yoga therapy for special children. I learned that I needed to push back self-expression and “draw out” the excess lines so the poses would be revealed in an easy illustration for the reader to assimilate.

For more on illustration check out Curious Crow’s new post on the subject.

June Malone has also talked about illustration.

Thank-you to Jay Bastian for his careful tutelage in Photoshop. Without these skills, I would not have known how to submit my drawings digitally.

 Royal Tern


This week,  in creative drawing, we masked off areas of our paper with torn and cut pieces of painters tape. We then drew into these with graphite. For an explanation of supplies and how we did this check week six on the creative drawing page.


In creative drawing this week we created drawings of a dream or memory by creating a collage of pictures to use as a photo reference. You can follow how I created this under the Illustrating a Dream or Memory on my Creative Drawing page here.

crosscontour3    Self Portrait

This week in Creative Drawing we practiced drawing by using only cross contours. We drew our subject material by imagining that our pencil was travelling across the form from top to bottom and left to right. As the pencil moved across the form we tried to replicate that form. We lightened the pressure on our pencil where we saw more light or where the form moved towards us and applied more pressure where it was darker or  moved back and away. We concluded that cross contours could add to the shape, heft and movement of a drawing. We decided to look for the evidence of cross contours in finished drawings and paintings that we observed in the future.

I decided to title this piece “Grandmummy” because my grand daughter recognized it right off as being me. I guess that’s a good thing?

ben   Ben

Tonight was the first night of drawing class and we practiced blind continuous line as well as continuous line drawing. I went on to explain if you continued on with describing the form in cross contour that you could end up with a likeness of  the object being rendered. Where an object is rounded, your drawing implement has to caress that form and emulate roundness, where it is flat the medium has to flat line it. All an object really is is a whole lot of contour lines sitting next to one another. This is called modeling in the form of an object. I happened to check out Antsketch’s drawing for today and he had done the same technique with figure drawing. Two different takes on the same technique.

The following post has tried a continuous line drawing and posted it:

June Malone