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.



…from the church of the Naked.

One of my favorite things is to a attend a live model workshop with other artists on Sunday afternoon. I have been doing it regularly since 1994.

This painting study is from Sunday. 9×12 oil on canvass board using a Zorn color palette I premixed for use in a self-portrait the day before. (no pun intended).

More on the Zorn palette in the next post.


2 from the Art League today. Charcoal on sketchpad 9×12″

First one was vine charcoal in 15 min. Second one was vine charcoal 25 min then compressed charcoal pencil 25 min.

I am new to charcoal and learned something about the materials.

When I did commercial art I rarely experimented with materials I did not know. It was too risky. Its nice to be learning again.

9-11 Draw


I can sometimes get drawn into the controversy, the election, the agenda, the media, the hoopla, the spectacle, the problems of the world. These are not my problems. I did not create them nor am I very likely to solve them merely with my opinion.

I need to shut out the noise and do my work.


Hal -Oil on Canvas 18×24″

9-8-2016 Day One: Water main broke at the studio about 30 minutes before the session was to begin. I had asked the model to wear a black jacket or at least long sleves. Mostly to save time on the painting session. Also, the model was going to bring a canvas with him at 10×10″, this also to save time by just painting the head.

None of these things worked out in my favor. That’s life.

I shut off the water main. Selected a grey primed 18×24″ canvas and started a full length seated. Hal had some unusual scars on his arms particularly a good one on his right forearm from a dance with a plate glass window. These were all nice details anyway.

The first session lasted from 11am until 3pm with a few breaks and a snack. Hal was really a patient model and good storyteller so a good time was had by all.

The first session was blocked in to my satisfaction and I took a few photos for reference.

I picked up the brushes the next day and spent 3 solid hours lighting the face, hair and eyes.

I am about done except some background area fill and defining the weight on the left side so that his arm makes sense where it is. One more day on this one, I think.


Florence Academy

Lifedraw 9-4 _18x24

18×24″ black Conté crayon, from the Art League life draw on Sunday.

These 2 young ladies showed up with a specific model and set-up they wanted to use. It turns out that they both went to the Florence Academy and studied classical style. It was apparent in their work. Masterful. well proportioned and executed drawings delivered by these 2 young artists reconfirmed the ideas I have always held that drawing skills can be taught. It’s not random dispersions of talent.

I was inspired enough to spend the next 2 hours making this careful study, even though I had just lousy newsprint paper.

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.