Learning to draw

My work. Vine Charcoal, 3x20min sessions

Sophia working
Sophia’s work

Honestly, I don’t think I am a great teacher. I am self taught and learned through practice, observation and tenacity. I’ve been a working artist all my life and I am always learning something from looking at other art and stealing techniques that I like.

My daughter Sophia is 13 years old and she has been seriously studying drawing for 3 years. I am just here to expose her to art that she may not be aware of through books, museums and instagram sends. She asks me when she wants my help or opinion and equally ignores my opinions when she wants to. That is the way it should be. She got herself into a great School of the Arts on her own merits from her portfolio review and is receiving good training. Last summer we went through the first 20 pages of the old Andrew Loomis book “Figure Drawing-For all it’s worth” to study anatomy, proportion and the figure in space perspective. This summer we went on a x-country road trip in a vintage Airstream trailer and looked at things and drew portraits of friends along the way. Last night we attended a portrait workshop at The Art League of Jacksonville, which has a great Director and teacher I’ve known for many years, William McMahan. He is simply great with people who are learning to draw. I know that I have learned a lot just listening to him making the rounds and talking to all the students. Even though I pretend I’m not listening. I left Sophia at a different table than the one I chose to work so that she could rely on the teacher and not me and assimilate with the other students. We shared a few thoughts during the breaks, but otherwise I left her alone. Drawing is a very private pursuit, after all. It’s an inside job.

The artist is the one who draws when nobody is looking.

Our Collective Soul

8-21-16 Model - copy

Charcoal Study on Newsprint 18X24″. Probably spent more time on the eyes than anything else. I am taking this time to get back to the elemental of art without concern of remuneration. Hopefully the work will be more than academic and reflect something of my old soul. Our collective soul.

Pastel Portrait stages

Pastel color is pretty new to me. I dont know the technique to apply to these materials.

So Here is what I learned last night. I used a new sketch book with fairly cheap thin paper, maybe 150 gm with enough tooth to hold the pencil adequately but thats about it. I liad the drawing in on the first pose in 30 min. I should have not done so much shading with the soft 5B pencil because graphite is slick and other media will not stick to it. 1st mistake.

I had the soft pastels already laid out in the box as a pallate roughly divided in 2 rows by warm and cool. so I started in on the flesh tones and immediately knew it was going to take the next 1.5 hours of the session just to get enough marks on the paper. I dont like to blend (or rather, I dont know how to do it without turning the color muddy). I had a hard time making the chalk stick to the areas where the graphite was too heavy. I had to borrow some conte crayons in black and red to go back into the outlines and with something that would stick.

I took it home and scanned it. Then bumped up the contrast in PS just enough for the white to stay white and the black and brown area at the bottom of the hair to blend together. Then I took a few of my favorite PS brushes and spent the next hour tightening and highlighting eyes nose and lips.Then blending just enough on the flesh for it to still have drawing marks.The background wall I just filled with a big brush leaving the original colors. I didn’t need the marks there to tell the story.