Monthly Archives: June 2016

My Friends on the Dresser


I think this is a fun photo. Maybe a painting? It’s a nice composition; I like the placement of the figures and so forth as well as the placement and contrasts of the colors and patterns. The shadows are quite nice. It’s one of those things – could be nice painted just as is, or possibly worked with a different background, possibly locating the arrangement out of doors or in some other unexpected setting. Or just a photo I enjoyed taking for fun!



Morning Drawing

lamb drawing

lamb photo


I set this up last night. The plan was to do a drawing first thing in the morning. I took several photos and got out a shoe box which has assorted drawing materials – pastels, conte crayons and crayons. The crayons were all blunt which I knew would make for chunky lines and not the thing for extreme detail or much detail at all, but it seemed the right choice for the playful feel of this.

I like it very much. It’s the chunky crayons that give it a painterly feel. It might make a nice painting. If I do a painting of it, I will use the photos for reference. The photos does two things – I can see how it was set up to set it up the same way again, and for the small details I can enlarge the photo and see the details better.

If I do some more artwork today that would be great, but if not, I have something to show for myself. Something I like!

Shoeshine Monkey Study


Shoeshine Monkey, study

This is a small study of a shoeshine monkey windup toy I have been working with. It’s not quite finished and I might do at least one more -especially if I can find the windup key that goes with it!  I could always use a reference for that but it’s not the same thing. The first pass I did in ink and colored pencil.

ShoeshineMonkey color pencil drawing

Color Pencil Art, Shoeshine Monkey

I thought it was okay, but I couldn’t find the exact shade color pencil I was looking for to render the fur. I was working with the wrong color, but I was able to render lighter and darker areas. The process of drawing and shading helped me to see the ins and outs of the subject. Where did the legs meet the body, what angle was the tilt of the head and so forth.

While the color of the fur was horrendous, I liked the drawing and the liveliness of the figure. I knew exactly what color paint I could mix up to show off the soft fur. I believe I used acrylic Napthol red (not the exact name maybe, but close!), Pythalo blue (also probably not exact) and Cadmium Yellow Light (pretty sure about that!). The entire painting was done with varying mixtures of these colors and I added a bit of white when I got to the face.

What I find, and what I will pass along as a trick or hint or technique fact is the following – some things just do take practice. It isn’t enough to say two parts water to one small blob of color……how small is a small blob for one thing and I find it’s best to add water a little bit at a time. Sort of like making oatmeal. If you add the oatmeal all at once to the boiling water, the oats don’t absorb the water uniformly and you end up with lumps. You must pour in the oats a little at a time and stir in between.

I also find color mixing tricky. You could say, one part red to equal parts blue and yellow. I don’t find that works. I have to think about color mixing theory. If I want to make a brown, I know I need some red, blue and yellow for the shade of brown I had in mind. If I threw in the colors together all at once – it didn’t work – you’ll have to do it for yourself to see because it is difficult to explain and maybe it works for you. I had to mix the red and blue and gradually add yellow, and mix thoroughly with the brush. It is possible I mixed red and yellow to get an orange before I added the blue. I am a novice at color mixing although I have been at it for years.  I don’t say this to discourage anyone, I say this to encourage.

There is so much to know and so much not to know in terms of technique. Technical knowledge is important but I, for one, picked up that part of art at an abysmally slow pace. I made up for the lack of technique by daydreaming about what I would  paint and draw if only I could and somehow that kept me going. Because I was so terrible at learning formal technique I may have picked up a few original ideas of my own along the way or at the very least, I have learned how to be incredibly stubborn and persevere in the pursuit of art during the many years I didn’t have much to show for my efforts.

Lastly, speaking of technique. The very first drawing experience I had was with the old fashioned dip pens. I didn’t know artists often draw in pencil and then ink in. I thought they always began with the pen and were so incredibly good they never made mistakes. Sometimes that happens….. Sumi-e ink drawing is much that way. I set a very high bar for myself. To this day, I draw my most accurate in ink, although I prefer a Rapidograph pen because they don’t drip.

Faced with a pencil and opportunity to erase opens up  too many avenues for me somehow, there is less urgency for precision. I also might add, I have terrible eyesight and the ink is easier for me to see. I use some sort of magnifier when I work with pencils or paint or I find accuracy impossible – curves are off and lines don’t meet up where they are supposed to. The slight off-ness to my work is probably what give it my particular style, if it can be said that I have a style. Even as I become more accurate overall, in some places, my lines slant ever so slightly at a bit of a wrong angle, or wave hesitantly but in other places there are lines of bold confidence…..sort of like layering flavors in a casserole. In the best dishes every bite should be a new experience! Flavors and paints should never mix so uniformly that it becomes boring after several mouthfuls or many viewings and food like art, must be beautiful as well, so these are not strange comparisons.

To get back to my monkey study…..below is the tracing I did from the color pencil study. I used a light box and put a piece of watercolor paper over the drawing from my sketch book. I traced it in pencil and went over the  pencil lines in ink. I wasn’t sure the ink was necessary because I planned to paint it, but acrylics generally cover over ink and because as I get better at drawing and technique, I get faster, which means I have more time to do more art…and so, if I want to explore the subject again or for all eternity, I can do another one!