Session #115, Work #117


I was moving pretty fast on this one, maybe a bit too fast. I drew the whole ear very similar to the guide on the left, the I wiped it down to very faint lines. This prep drawing had a lot of mistakes so I re-drew all the lines again with more measuring, then once again wiped it all down to make the lines very light. I also added a bit of charcoal to the paper to tone it a bit so that any of my guide lines would be hidden easier. Lastly I used a generals charcoal pencil to draw the finishing lines.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison



At least two major errors, circled above, and a few smaller errors in accuracy. Like the far left line of the ear, and the top most line.

I found another great use of the sanguine lead that I was using today in life drawing, unfortunately I had worn down the only piece I had to a very small nub, so it was very hard to get a point on it or hold it. This is why my traced line is so bad.

Session #115, Work #116


While browsing A&C Supply today I was next to the graphite pencils choosing the best variation of leads for my sketchbook when I saw the “Cretacolor Leads” and one of them was red. Now most of the red chalks that I have tried have been bound with additives and turn out to be a bit waxy, but this one was dry as a bone, just like chalk. I was going to by a few but all they had was a couple sad broken pieces on the self, and the clerk was nice enough to give me a piece to try during my class.

I must say I really liked working with it, especially on newsprint. Where charcoal would scratch over the paper, the chalk would roll over it smoothly with a nice line. Thinking about it now it kinda makes since, charcoal is made from wood which naturally has fibers, very stiff fibers, ones that easily turn into splinters. Dragging these over paper especially in the wrong direction isn’t the smoothest. Chalk on the other hand is compressed dust, or dirt like substance, when dragging this over any surface the feeling is much smoother with the added bonus of the ability of drawing against the lead.

After working at home tonight I was still thinking about the “Cretacolor Lead” and I jumped online to see if I could purchase some, and to my surprise, they call it Sanguine!

Sanguine is the red chalk that most Old Masters used when drawing, you will see tons of master sketches in this red color, that is Sanguine. Originally it came in big irregular chunks and you would have to chisel off a good size piece and shape it with a knife. I looked for hours once online to see if I could buy it anywhere, but the only place I could find it was a store in Italy, and it was super expensive.

So if anyone is interested here is a link to the products.

Sanguine pencil, pencil lead, and stick.

The very cool pencil lead holders.


The Drawings

Sketching before the class, the model was a bit boxy.


1 minute poses


1 minute poses

Here you can see that I’m alternating between the sanguine and the charcoal. I’m not sure of it yet.


1 minute poses


1 minute poses


1 minute poses


5 minute poses


5 minute pose


5 minute pose


20 minute pose


1 hour plus pose


This happens all the time, I like the drawing when I’m at the class, and I leave feeling great, then I get home and look at it again and hate it. I wonder if its the lighting in the class… maybe its so dark in there that I can’t see bad drawing.

Session #114, Work #115


I have been toning the paper lately. Not prior to doing the drawing but after the initial stage of the drawing, before I put down my finishing lines I will rub charcoal over the paper darkening it a bit, softening the initial lines. It’s very similar to scraping a painting then working into it, the drawing is there and done, now the focus is on the surface.


The Drawing




The Setup



Drawing Comparison



I worked fast on this one, I keep wanting to put in lines with flourish and command. Yet I fear my lack of accuracy. A few mistakes here, the worst of them is the top and left of the eye, considering this was right next to the major intersecting vertical and horizontal line that I placed at the beginning, it should be more accurate. I think the speed as to which I was working caused this.

Session #114, Work #114


I feel as though an instructor would be most helpful in navigation here. What am I supposed to be learning with this plate beyond honing my skills of judgement and measurement?

I shall have to do some online research into this subject, until then I will just comment on my mistakes and successes.


The Drawing




The Setup




Drawing comparison



The tracing is working out well, its much faster than Photoshop, and I think the act of tracing over my drawing is a bit of training in itself. While tracing, if I imagine that I’m not actually tracing, but producing the drawing with superb confidence and accuracy, it give me a glimpse of skills that I’m working toward.

The eye socket drawing is just about perfect, the only discouraging area of this drawing is the placement of the mouth, upper lip, and nose.

Session #113, Work #113


I worry constantly now that I’m not working more hours on drawing. Today I did this Bargue drawing plus I did a couple sketches in my sketch book, but I still think I need more time. But, with work and other things, I really don’t see how I can spend more time working on art. If I really pushed myself I think I could average about 3 to 4 hours a night, but that would be pushing it.


The Drawing




The Setup





I think from now on I’m going to do tracings of my drawings instead of doing the comparison in Photoshop  This is much easier and faster, and I don’t have to worry about camera distortions.

So the big inaccuracies here are, the placement of the nose, it needed to be more to the left and same with the upper lip. The placement of the eye was a bit off, I was working hard to get the eyebrow shadow shape so exact that I totally didn’t focus on the more important eye itself.


Session #113, Work #112


I was going very fast on this drawing. I had just got home from my painting class and I wanted to get this drawing started at least. It was very interesting with the different setup. I was correct on my previous statement, it was very difficult in sizing up the vertical measurements for this setup.

I utilized the guide a bit here to get the drawing setup but I quickly realized that I couldn’t look at the guide for any measurements at all, I had to measure completely from the subject.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison



This is after about 40 minutes of drawing, and the photo is very blurry.



This is the normal method that I use to compare my drawings. I take a photo, then I outline my drawing in Photoshop, then I take that outline layer and duplicate it then move it over the original for comparison. As you can see in the above drawing it is completely and totally wrong, I don’t think there are more than two lines that are correct here. Now, I know I was going fast but I was sure that my accuracy wasn’t that bad so I did the following.


My drawing traced on tracing paper and placed over the original.


Holy cow! Look at the difference. My iPhone camera really distorted the previous image so bad that it was ridiculous. I feel much better now, my drawing really isn’t that bad, I was fairly accurate even with this new vertical setup. From now on I’m going to trace my drawing with tracing paper and overlay that  on the subject and take a photo.


Session #112, Work #111


I took a four hour Oil materials class at Art and Craftsman Supply in Seattle. The class was given by Jamie Bollenbach and was very informative.

The huge number of material options and possibilities is basically limitless for Oil painting and it really comes down to one thing, there is no absolute correct or incorrect way to paint in Oil. There are some good choices and some bad, but that really all depends on your goal. Here are some notes of a few things that I learned during the class

  • The price of paints mostly depend on amount of pigment in them or the rarity of the pigment.
  • A vehicle of Walnut or Poppy-seed oil is best for lighter colors, especially white.
  • To get a super intense color, you have to glaze or subdue the colors surrounding it, or both.
  • Walnut oil takes longer to dry.
  • Encostic painting is  basically painting where the vehicle use is wax.
  • A chalk and marble dust ground over rabbit skin glue is a much better surface to paint on, but it takes a long time to prepare.
  • When sizing with rabbit skin glue do not boil the glue.
  • When drawing on canvas with charcoal you can use a brush dipped in turpentine to move the charcoal around easy.
  • Bring a small lamp to class when you can to light your canvas/paper.
  • 1/3 Solvent, 1/3 Damar varnish, 1/3 Linseed oil: is my new favorite medium.


The painting was quick, I did a fast drawing without much rechecking at all. I then began a wash of the general color/value of each area with lots of medium. I then began adding in direct color with much less medium after the painting was covered. I continued to work in mostly paint right out of the tube with just a little medium until finished.


The Painting



The Setup

I didn’t take a photo of the still life, so no drawing comparison. But here is a look at the values. Interesting how the painting turns mostly all to grey.


Session #111, Work #110


Plate three of the Bargue course introduces a bit of shading, but that wasn’t really much of an issue here. For some reason I was pretty far off in the accuracy here, my theory is that it was the increased size do the drawing, that caused issues.


The Drawing





The Setup






The problem here is not that the drawing is inaccurate, its that the drawing is inaccurate and I didn’t notice these glaring inaccuracies. I did make an attempt to fix the vertical height of the upper lip, I noticed that it was a bit short, but I failed in making it long enough even after adjustment. I should have gotten the horizontal line for the base of the nose much closer than that.


Well, one thing I do know is that my biggest weakness currently is judging horizontal distances. What is interesting about this plate is that the guides were originally placed above the finished drawings, but I moved then to be to the left of the original. I wonder if Bargue did the vertical placement intentionally so the student would be forced to have an easier time judging the horizontal distances but not the vertical.

While thinking about that, maybe its not that I’m better at judging vertical distance more than horizontal distances. Its more likely the case that its easier to judge the vertical distances when you subject is situated on the same horizontal plane as the drawing. I bet if I situated my drawing below the original next that I would have an easier time of judging the horizontal distances but more trouble judging the vertical distances. There is only one way to find out…


Session #111, Work #109


This drawing seemed to be one of the easiest of plate two. I barely looked at the guide this time. I’m finding that the guide is a bit to general and I break the form down a bit closer to the original much sooner.


The Drawing



The Setup







This is how I’m starting all these drawings currently.

  • Top most horizontal line
  • Bottom most horizontal line
  • Place vertical line in relation to subject to garner as much info with it as possible
  • Place the rest of the vertical measurements
  • Place the horizontal measurements and begin generalization of the drawing




I hope to look back on my beginning drawings one day and see that I have improved massively, right now I “feel” like I’m improving but I really can’t tell.

Session #110, Work #108


Not much to say about this one, see my previous post for process and drawing comparison.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Details

51713a-detail 51713a-detail2 51713a-detail3

Portable Taboret

The Perfect studio

Since January I have been painting and drawing in my apartment with a very humble setup. This made since at the time, the main goal was to set to task as quickly and as easily as possible. Nothing kills work like a long and arduous setup time. Time and again I have seen great artists always have materials quickly at hand in studio or on location. Either to capture a fleeting landscape scene in a moving car or aboard a plane, or a fleeting moment of inspiration with a well prepared and easily accessible studio.

Side note here, while searching for a good post about Chuck Close’s studio I happened upon this great post by Brain Picking’s where Close talks about the excuse for the perfect studio.

I was never one of those people who had to have a perfect situation to paint in. I can make art anywhere, anytime — it doesn’t matter. I mean, I know so many artists for whom having the perfect space is somehow essential. They spend years designing, building, outfitting the perfect space, and then when it is just about time to get to work they’ll sell that place and build another one. It seems more often than not a way to keep from having to work. But I could paint anywhere. I made big paintings in the tiniest bedrooms, garages, you name it. you know, once I have my back to the room, I could be anywhere.Chuck Close

I would do well to head the words of this master artist and strive to be ready anytime and anywhere to capture inspiration with minimal setup and lack of “perfect” conditions. I do recall one very inspiring day where I ended up painting in my own kitchen, the conditions were far from perfect but still the painting turned out great, although as I recall, I found the process to be more enjoyable.

As I write this post I made a note in my daily ledger to begin my next project of having a sketchbook with me at all times and ready to sketch in any situation. I think I will swap my ledger for a sketchbook of the same size and make it a constant companion equipped with drawing tools.

So, to get back to my original thought. I needed a better home studio, one that could be compact, always ready, portable, and held all the supplies I needed with good lighting conditions. I dared to dream and I think I have come up with my perfect compact home studio.

The Idea

I have made a lot of notes on the idea of this transformer like studio with the possibilities of almost any situation. But to be brief I can sum up the idea as a movable taboret with adjustable glare free lighting a detachable easel, a larger working space with a glass palette and plenty of storage.

If you have shopped online for taborets you will know how crazy expensive they are. And everyone that I have seen would not match my particular needs. So I had only one choice left… I must build it myself.

Stage one: The Dresser

I started my search for the perfect taboret base at IKEA. After figuring out the approximate height that I would need the base to be, including the later addition of wheels, I chose a dresser called HOPEN. Not only was the design nice and simple but the addition of frosted glass fronts on the drawers was very stylish, and the price was great. I must say that the IKEA website is far superior to most furniture websites, too many other websites lack specific information as in exact measurements. Thanks to IKEA I knew this piece would work perfectly for my needs before I made the hour long drive to the store.

Fueled by inspiration I didn’t waste time in traveling to IKEA to pick up the base of my taboret. While on the way I even took the time to stop at a parking lot and do a  landscape painting.

The assembly of the HOPEN chest of drawers

Like all of the IKEA furniture that I have assembled this one was simple and easy with as minimal hardware as possible. That being said, this was the most complex assembly of IKEA furniture that I have done yet, most of our previous purchases were simpler items.

The next day I took a trip to my local Loews for all the supplies I would need to turn this normal chest of drawers into the perfect taboret.

  • Two panels of wood cut to size, one for the base, and one for the back.
  •  Four wheels at 4 inches in height.
  • Hardware to attach the base and back to the chest.
  • Hardware to attach the wheels.
  • 1″x2″x8′ wood boards for lighting rig.
  • A saw to cut the wood. ( a humble replacement for the wood working shop I once had )

The next few photos are of the additions added to the chest of drawers, you will notice that I tend to over engineer things a bit and opted to attach everything with bolts rather than wood screws. I figured there was going to be a lot of stress on these joints as it is of considerable weight and I will be moving it frequently.


I had the half inch plywood cut to size at Loews, much easier than using a hand saw. In this photo I am attaching the wheels to the base piece after previously measuring their location.


A picture of some of the supplies that I gathered.


Detail of one wheel bolted to the board.


After attaching the wheels to the base plywood I set the chest of drawers (without the drawers) on top of the base so I could prepare for attaching the chest to its base with bolts and “L” brackets.


I was accurate as possible in my measurements, I learned years ago to measure multiple times before committing to any cut or drill.


The wheels I chose are 3 inch casters that are about 4 inches in height. The thick carpet in this apartment makes rolling the chest very difficult even with these large wheels. The front casters have locks on them, but currently the carpet and weight of the chest keeps it in one place easily. All four casters swivel so that it can maneuver into almost any orientation. Unfortunately, I have found that due to the weight of a full chest and the thickness of the carpet that it is hard to get the chest to start moving because the wheels have to swivel into position first, then roll. This initial swivel makes it very difficult for to start moving but I corrected it by adding some handles low on the sides of the chest ( see later images ). I believe that if this was put on a more flat surface that it would move very easily.


More images of hardware and how the base is being attached to the dresser. I had to be careful not to have the bolts stick out too far inside the chest as it would impair the sliding of the drawers.


Detail of one of the six “L” brackets attached inside.


Outside detail view of the bolt attached to the “L” backet inside the dresser.

Back of the chest with plywood attached.

I used a total of 12 “L” brackets with two bolts each. Six for the base and 6 for the back. As you can see here there base sticks out from the back about two inches. This was a previous oversight on my part but it proved to be very helpful in the end.

I attached a new plywood back to the chest because the original backing was a very thin pieces of masonite nailed to the chest. That would not have held up to what I plan to attach to the back of the chest, nor would it have done well under the stress of rolling the chest around the apartment.

The Lighting Rig

The main idea of the lighting rig is to allow me to pull my lighting along with my portable taboret. My first idea was to get a bendable standing light that would hold a single Compact Florescent Light bulb but I couldn’t find a lamp that would fit my needs correctly, and I was also worried about a single compact bulb only lighting some of my canvas or paper. I wanted to end up with a consistent light over my substrate and palette with reduced or no glare.

My solution was to build a lighting rig that would suspend a light above the taboret. It would need to allow for the light to move forward and back as well as up and down to take advantage of higher ceilings in later places that I’m sure to move to.


This is the rig after completion. I used the more expensive 1″x 2″ wood a Loews because it was straighter with little to no knots. For supporting the Joints I used “L” brackets and screws plus four triangle pieces cut out of the original backing for the chest of drawers, its a fairly thin Masonite. I made sure to use glue with every connection here and let it dry for at least an hour.


These are the horizontal pieces that will eventually be above my head and attached to the light. I just used an “L” bracket on each side, but I only attached it with screws to the horizontal pieces so that the horizontals would slide easily forwards and back.


Here is a better shot of how the “L” brackets were attached to the horizontals but not the rig itself.


I didn’t want to attach the rig directly to the taboret because it will eventually need to slide up to extend as high as possible depending on ceiling space. Unfortunately the ceilings in this apartment are a little less than eight feet. You can see here that the base of the taboret sticks out about an inch, this is essential as this is where the verticals from the lighting rig will rest as well as the easel that is going to be added later.


Here is the full lighting rig attached to the taboret, complete with light. I must say a few things about lighting.

Lighting for Artists

I did a lot of research on what is the best lights to get for a studio. There is so much information out there and most of it never matched my needs perfectly, but it all comes down to the correct bulbs. Here is what I have found to be the best and least expensive.

If you work very small and don’t care too much about uneven light over your canvas and palette than go with a Compact Florescent Bulb. If you work larger and even light over canvas and palette is essential than you will need to do like I have done and go with Florescent Tubes. Originally I wanted to go smaller than 4 foot tubes but price goes up the smaller they get and there are not may options at smaller sizes either. Now the most essential thing is you MUST get bulbs that produce a color of light between 5000 and 6000 kelvin (this is the same color as north light). The bulbs I purchases are Phillips, 5000 Kelvin, 4 foot, T8, Florescent tubes. And they are housed inside a very inexpensive plug in shop light. You can go with 6500 Kelvin bulbs but I found that color to be much too blue.

The best thing about the florescent tubes is that they will cast a larger more even light over your work space and if you get the correct color (5000 kelvin at least) it will be just like working from north light. Actually the window behind my taboret in this post faces north and when I compare the light coming from the window to the light from my 5000 kelvin florescent tubes, it is almost exactly the same. The light from the window is much brighter of course, and is very slightly more blue.


Close up of the shop light attached to the horizontal brace and the “L” bracket allowing it to be easily slid forwards and backwards.


The only problem with this shop light is that the cord is very short…

Picture of paintings taken while illuminated by my new setup. Here there is a lot less glare on my canvas and the colors are exactly the same as if viewed from north light. Keep in mind these were taken with my iPhone 5 without a tripod.

tab19 tab20 tab21

 The Easel

I purchased an Italian made metal tripod easel that was recommended by Marc Dalessio for plain air painting for tall persons that want to do site-size in plain air. I had several necessities for choosing this easel for the taboret. First I wanted it to be easily detachable so I could use the easel for any other situation. Secondly it needed to be adjustable in height as well as in tilt. The Italian metal easel achieved all of this. The greatest thing about this is that the easel cost me only about $50 plus shipping from Madison Art Shop.

Side note, I looked at other easels locally that were of similar construction, and I would suggest NOT to go with them, they are sub par in many ways. You want to get the one by Richeson, trust me.
Attaching the easel is pretty simple. All I have is a horizontal piece of plywood screwed across the back of the taboret with about 1 inch of space between it and the back of the taboret. I have a Velcro strap attached to the top center of the taboret, that wraps around the center leg of the easel, and a metal loop below (its hard to see in the next picture) that the center leg will also pass through.
After working with this setup for several weeks now I can safely say that its very sturdy and easily adjustable. You can even see from this post that I was able to start a drawing that was almost 5 feet wide and 3 feet tall.

The humble light box

I needed a very cheap and tall light box that was easily adjustable. The solution was “Wire cube shelving system” at target. It was very cheap and would take on lots of configurations for storage and light boxes. What is really great about this is that you can easily attach a light to it from almost any angle and shine light through the wires, much better than a box with holes. Plus I use the rest of the shelves to hold extra still life items, books, supplies, and anything.


This image shows my still life all lit up with a very cheap sheet from target also. I later replaced that light bulb with a CFL at 5000 Kelvin.


The Total

I figured I would give a total of all the supplied to make my setup happen.

  • IKEA Chest: $100
  • Wood for base and back of Chest: $36
  • Hardware: $5 + $5 + $6 + $5 + $16 + $23
  • Wire cubes, Target: $25
  • Sheet, Target: $10
  • Chest handles: $8
  • Light rig wood: $4 + $12
  • CFL bulb: $6
  • Florescent Tubes, Home Depot: $10
  • Shop Light, Home Depot: $20
  • Wheels: $25
  • Saw: $11
  • Easel: $60

Total = $387

That is not an exact total I would guess that the grand total is right at 400. But still this is much cheaper than and all in one store bought item like this one.


Session #109, Work #108


This will be used for a game called “Pin the radio transmitter on the rhino”, so the drawing only needed to be a simple illustration. I decided to do much more. I’m in the mode now where I want to train my eye every day to become more accurate in judging spacial relationships. And this proved to be a very fun and informing drawing, that really showed how great site-size method drawing really is.

Of course I would love to be drawing from a real life model but, unfortunately the cats would not like a rhino in the apartment.

This is the first stage of the drawing, I anticipate one more session to finish it.


The Drawing


Very large drawing here, its about 4 and a half feet wide and 3 feet tall.


The Setup


In order for me to site-size this correctly I had to get the picture the same size as the drawing, which meant I had to setup the drawing about 10 feet away from the paper, and I stood about 3 feet from the picture. I marked a place on the carpet with tape so I knew what position I had to return to each time I needed to compare. I also marked two notches on the photo which corresponded with two drawn lines on the far left of the drawing, you can’t really see them here they are too light and small.

So the basic idea is that I would line up my body and head in the correct position using the marks on the floor, the picture and the drawing. Then I would make a judgement such as the placement of a horizontal line intersecting the top of the horn, or the top of the whole rhino. Then I would move forward quickly without taking my eyes off point in the drawing where I think the point should be, make the mark on the paper, then return to my observation point to compare correctness. It turned out to be a lot of walking back and forth, but the drawing began to bloom out of the paper slowly, and I was very surprised at the accuracy.











Drawing comparison



Considering that I was about 13 feet away from the drawing and any measurements that I was doing would vary wildly with the slightest movement of my hands or arms while measuring, I think the accuracy turned out really well. The only bad part is that I truncated the rhino a bit, and worse than that is the paper ends and the rhino extends beyond it. I will have to add some paper to the drawing and fix its hind quarters.



Session #109, Work #107


Just one more drawing after this one and I will move on to plate three of the Bargue drawing course. The next plate gets into some shading with full faces. Hopefully I can keep up the accuracy that I achieved on this drawing through to all of the next plates.


The Drawing



The Setup






I’m very happy when the drawing is this close. I think marking a vertical line first then measuring out from there is the best way for me to get the best accuracy.

Session #108, Work #106


Not sure what was going on with me during drawing class but I couldn’t get anything to work right. I didn’t feel like I was rushing at all. I was measuring as much as I could. Yet, the drawings are severely lacking in accuracy.

I purchased some simple shapes from the store today and I’m going to paint them white so I can do some mass drawing and painting studies.


The Drawings

1 minute poses.



1 minute poses.



1 minute poses.



1 minute poses.



1 minute pose



30 minute pose



1 hour pose




Session #108, Work #105


I did much better on this drawing than the last one. I changed my process up a bit. First I drew horizontal lines indicating the top of the subject and the bottom. Then I put an arbitrary vertical line, that represented an imaginary line on the subject passing through the further right point on the chin, through the part in the lips and through where the nose meets the upper lip. With this line I was able to get several vertical and horizontal points located easily.


From here I was able to measure out from the vertical line to find the placement for the furthers right point of the tip of the nose, the furthest left on the nostril and the corner of the mouth. I find it much easier to measure out from a central line this way then creating a rectangle around the entire subject and measuring into it.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison

51513-drawingI did much better with the accuracy of this drawing and I think my process here had a lot to do with it.

Session #107, Work #104


The Drawing



The Setup





Here is how I began the drawing, I didn’t use the vertical and horizontal line shown by the guide. I did an angled line that touched the top of the lip and the furthest right point on the chin.



After setting in some vertical measurements I added in the vertical line similar in placement to the guides vertical line. This was very helpful in placing the extension of the nose.


51413-drawingThere are many errors here, and I’m not sure exactly how to correct them. There comes a point in a drawing where my powers of observation and judgement obviously need honing.  I’m trying to get away from measuring as much as possible because its not always possible when dealing with a more un-sanitized drawing environment. In a real environment I have to rely mostly on my own powers of observation, I have to be able to spot the most smallest difference without any aid beyond just looking and comparing the subject to the drawing.


Session #106, Work #103


For plate number four I decided to follow the guide on the left much more closely. I was interested in the central intersecting line that Bargue used. It seemed to be a very obvious way of finding the location of most of the feature while at the same time keeping their angles coherent. Unfortunately it proved to be very difficult as you will see in the comparison below.


The Drawing




The Setup



Drawing comparison


Here I started with the central line then I found points on that line that would correspond with the angles that intersected it through the top of the lip, the center of the mouth, the crease of the lips and where the lips meet the chin. I found it very difficult to get these exact points, they seemed to be based on arbitrary locations within the face and existed somewhere within an angle.

Instruction would have been helpful here, I really don’t know how to deal with these angular measurements.




Here you can see a bunch of errors, the largest being the placement of the nose and nostrils.  As I look at it now I’m amazed that I misjudged the furthers nostril so much. So far the bridge of the nose has been off in the last few drawings, I really need to target that as a week point and eradicate the behavior with more measurements.



Session #105, Work #102


I’m definitely getting to know charcoal well. I’ve never had to sharpen the sticks so much to get such exact lines. During this drawing I was a bit distracted so my focus wasn’t up to what it should have been and the comparison shows that. I will need to do better tonight.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison



Well, I’m getting my vertical distances down perfect, its the horizontal distances that I’m having trouble judging and measuring. I need to find a way to better measure a horizontal distance. I kept looking at the nose thinking it was too big, but then I would measure and it was correct. The issue was that the nose was not placed correctly it should have gone to the right just a small bit. Same wit the  crease in the mouth and the line to the right of the nostril.


Session #105, Work #101


For some reason these plates are going much faster than the first plate, I’m not sure if I’m getting better or the simplicity of the line is just easier.


The Drawing




The Setup



Drawing Comparison


I started this one a bit different. I began by closely measuring the more internal parts of the face, the top lip first,  then I move outward from there. I was hoping that this would fix my previous error of getting the bridge of the nose in the incorrect place, but it didn’t.



This is the start of the drawing. I can see now that the generalization of feature is essential for quickly getting  accurate drawing down. And enough of that accurate drawing for a good comparison with the original before moving on to refinements.


Session #104, Work #100


I thought that this plate would be much harder but I really enjoyed doing this plate much more than the first. This was much closer to drawing from an actual face rather than just a drawing. I tried as hard as I could to make the lines as exact as possible.


The Drawing




The Setup



Drawing Comparison


This is how I began the drawing, unfortunately the line of the bridge of the nose was off and that difference continued through  to the end drawing. I used the Bargue guide on the left only as a possible indicator to how to begin the drawing but I found my own path.




I’m very pleased with the accuracy here, even though the bridge of the nose and the ends of the mouth are off a bit.

Session #104, Work #099


I’m using Stonehinge paper this time. And I think it is going to be my choice of paper for a while. Its like the Arches hot pressed watercolor paper but it is cheaper and comes in colors.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison



Lots of mistakes on this one. I went fairly quick and didn’t measure most of the points, and it show a lot.

Session #103, Work #098


Plate 1, eye number eleven. I went quickly on this one, trying to get as much done with only eye judgement and not much measurement. Forcing myself to do this can only help me in the future I’m sure.

I did figure out one major thing for this drawing. I dislike the Strathmore 300 series charcoal paper for fine detail, the Arches watercolor paper is far superior for fine detail, although the Arches really clings on to the charcoal and makes it a bit harder to move around. If I added a light grey wash to the paper it would be perfect.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison



These comparisons are really essential for telling me if I’m getting better or not. I feel like I’m getting better, my judgments are closer and these drawings are not taking as long, but I still have a long way to go.

For the top right lines that are so far off, I really didn’t measure those at all, they were added by just looking closely and trying to make the best judgement. Most of the rest was done the same. I can tell I went quick on this one cause I have much more lines incorrect than before.




Session #103, Work #097


I came in a bit under an hour here. I was able to speed up a bit by making judgments on the fly here and going for the correct line without much preparation.


The Drawing





The Setup







Most of the internal lines here I did without much point preparation and I’m happy that they are very close. Again, the lines further from the center are the worst, I need to find a more accurate way of judging these lines.

Session #103, Work #096


Bargue plate 1, eye number nine. I’m trying to do as much as I can without measuring and really trying to train my eye to see differences and make judgement based on that alone. I will make a judgement fix in my head what I need to change, but then I will double check that judgement with measurement, most of the time my initial judgement is correct. It seems as though I need to gain more confidence of my own judgments though.

Also, just seeing a difference is only half of the issue, I have to be able to judge correctly what needs to be changed. If a height is wrong between two lines, then which line do I change? This was this issue is several places on this drawing.


The Drawing


The Setup



Drawing Comparison



Although it looks a bit clunky, I drew the eyeball curves just once with only minimal points plotted earlier. The small line above the eyelid I redrew three times and still didn’t get it correct. With all the incorrect areas here, there are still a few places where I have excelled and I’m happy about that. I still have 3 more of these eyes to do before I go on to the second plate. And I believe that I have about 50+ more plates after that for the first section of the course… WOW!

Session #102, Work #095


Not much to say, still working on the first plate of the Bargue drawing course. I really need to try and do more than one hour a night on this if I’m ever going to finish it.


The Drawing





The Setup





Drawing Comparison



Its seems to always be the case that the furthest from the center is more prone to mistakes.


Session #101, Work #094


I started drawing the two minute poses to night in a site-size method which quickly became stunted and ugly. I was focusing on seeing the proportions correctly and getting the drawing correct but the duration of time necessary to get the model on the page needed quick work. Unfortunately I didn’t see their opposition, but luckily Jamie made a comment that really changed how I was drawing from horrible to wonderful.

I must also mention that I was lucky to be standing next to an artist that was so kind to offer up a huge chunky piece of charcoal. Without his kindness and Jamie’s insight tonight’s would not have been as fantastic.

Basically Jamie broke me out of the rigidity of my method and allowed me to start much more expressively with broad strokes defining the figure as simple as possible quickly at first, then later working into those planes in more detail. This is why I love charcoal so much, the ability to push and pull it around like paint is a thing of beauty.

I want you to grab a large chunk of charcoal and define the entire figure in only a few very broad thick strokesJamie Bollenbach

I think you will easily be able to tell at which point in my drawings tonight that the change happened.



The Drawings

Two Minute poses



Two Minute poses



Five Minute poses



Five Minute poses



Five Minute poses



Five Minute poses



1 hour pose




Session #100, Work #093

Still working hard on training my eye through the Bargue course. Even though this session was only an hour long I worked really hard on getting the drawing as perfect as possible.

So this is the 100th consecutive session that I have done and I wanted to do something special but I have been so busy that I have been finding it difficult to even do more than an hour a night. So, I just continued with the course, although at this rate I  will finish the Bargue course in about a year… I do plan on working hard on my drawing for at least nine months before going back to mostly painting, I think this really strict schedule can only help me in the future. From session 1 this year the my biggest failure has always been drawing and I need to really focus on it hard.

Currently I’m also reading “The Practice and Science of Drawing” by Harold Speed, and it is giving a great account of the exact path an artist should take to become an excellent draftsman.

As I did a search for this book to link it I found that it is also a free e-book, of course I find this out after I purchase it.

The Drawing




What is interesting here is that even the weight of the line is throwing off my ability to judge if a distance/width is correct. There are a couple places here that look incorrect but when compared are not.

Session #099, Work #092


One hour is not a very long amount of time to spend on these drawings. I still need to strive for perfection here, it will only help me more in the future.

Its interesting that this is the first plate of the course. A whole bunch of eyes. It makes since because the whole purpose of this is learning to see.

The Drawing



The Setup



I knew that the top brow line above the eye was too far down, but I left it there anyway. Luckily I fixed the bridge of the nose placement, that was much farther off previously. The most important part of these drawing is learning to judge distances. And even though this drawing is not perfect I feel like I’m getting better at being able to see differences in shapes much more accurately.

Session #098, Work #091


So I couldn’t find a good painting spot anywhere down the mountains from Hurricane Ridge. I checked out a few spots on the way and another park on the coast, but I ended up driving for a couple hours before I found this good spot. Lots of shade that didn’t change one bit and  good and simple scene.


The Painting



The Location


Wow… everything is so blue compared to what I was seeing. I’m not sure if this is the camera or maybe I didn’t notice at all.



I had a great setup here so there is no excuse for that being the cause of my painting issues. Here I made the distant shore values correct, but the closer island is too dark as well as the water is too dark in the distance. Making the island too dark compounded my issues throughout the painting because I made everything too dark and I think I was comparing against the island instead of the sky.



Session #098, Work #090


I couldn’t do much hiking on hurricane ridge due to the 10 feet of snow covering the trails. But I was able to find this wonderful scene on the side of the road. It was such a clear day, I only wish that I had an umbrella, I would have painted three paintings here. But, the sun was moving very fast and I ended up with a bit of a sun burn and only one painting as my shade ran out.


The Painting




The Setup


Back to the Julian easel and sitting but, I was still using sight size here.



I continue to paint the distant objects much too light. Parts of the mountains should be a bit darker. Also the highlights in the trees should be light, and I can’t believe that I didn’t even notice the cast shadows on the top of the snow over the patch of dirt. I think the distractions of the changing scenery and sun was too much for me to stay focused on the painting and getting it correct.

Session #097, Work #089


This scene was super difficult, it had every problem in the book. Quickly changing sun, changing tide, atmospheric perspective, moving water, mass of random foliage, intense color, lots of drawing and subtle values throughout. I was not ready for this scene at all. I’m glad I took some photos cause I will have to study all of these issues one by one.

The Painting



The Setup


There is my new setup… I have already changed it as I was not happy with how functional it was.



I can’t believe that the trees past the beach are that dark. I painted these values very far off.

The location change

I took several picture showing the change in scenery within one and a half hours.

50413b-locationa 50413b-locationb 50413b-locationc

Session #097, Work #088

I was a bit rushed to start this painting. After driving over three hours to get out here I wanted to get two maybe three paintings done. But due to this new setup and my forgetfulness I had forgotten my brushes for the first spot that I picked and had to walk all the way back to the truck to get them. After that setup, I decided to paint a different spot on the coast.

The Painting



The Setup


Here you can see that I’m using my new easel which is perfect for site-size. Although it was kinda hard to get this easel setup on the rocks and in a correct position. Then I realized that I had forgotten to fill my medium cup, which I had to do on the spot. Later to realize when I pinned my palette to the easel that I had filled it way too much….

Really the whole start to this painting was very annoying. I found that my palette was way too bouncy and I had to constantly support it with my left hand while mixing. Also my brush holder that I made up didn’t work well at all and it was a bit annoying throughout the painting. Needless to say I need to make some modifications to my setup and for the remainder of the trip I used my Julian easel. Which I was very happy that I thought ahead and brought it with me.


My main focus for this painting was the values and drawing, unfortunately I failed on both. I keyed the sky correctly, but the lighter part of the rocks on the shore is extremely inaccurate.


This was the scene that I was going to paint until I realized that I left my brushes back at the truck.

Session #096, Work #087


For this drawing I’m using two sheets of paper. First is a Strathmore 300 series charcoal paper, second is a Canson pastel paper. After putting the first stroke of charcoal down on the Canson paper I immediately hated it. The texture was much to prominent to even be useful in making a drawing. Luckily, after the drawing I tried a few strokes on the back of the paper and it wasn’t too bad, so the whole pad will not be a total waste.

The Strathmore 300 is good though. I’m not liking the vertical line texture much, but I have found ways around that. This will be my go to paper for a while. Its kinda cheap, and works well.


The Drawing



The Setup



The Strathmore paper is on the right and the canson is below. You can see how far I got on the canson paper before I didn’t bother with it anymore.


Drawing Comparison



I really need to work on my accuracy here. I’m happy that I got a lot of the line weights done well, but moving forward I think I may need to go for an exact 100% reproduction.

Bargue Drawing Course and Charcoal Paper Review

As I was drawing the fourth eye of plate one of the Bargue drawing course, I noticed that any time I would erase a line on the Arches 90lb hot pressed water color paper the next line that I would put over that erased line would skip like crazy, it was terrible, like trying to draw with a pin out of ink, all I was doing was making a channel in the paper. So I decided that I was going to do this drawing on all the paper types that I had with me.

Session #094, Work #085


So at life drawing class tonight I set my easel up so that my paper was really high and I was able to view the model in a spot where she fit on the page. Unfortunately the class was so packed with people that I couldn’t set up my vantage point far behind my easel. I has to be pretty close to the easel and just keep head in one place.

I was very self conscious trying this method out in the class because I know that Jamie would prefer a more fluid approach to drawing, but I really feel that right now what I need is a good drawing foundation and eye training. So I stuck with it and the proportions turned out good, but the drawing didn’t turn out too well. If I had the skills to get the proportions correct right at the start then I could be more fluid and I think the long pose would have turned out better.

The Drawings

30 Second poses


30 second poses


10 minute pose


10 minute pose


1.5 hour pose



Bargue Drawing Plate 1

I have had the Bargue Drawing book for going on 7 years now and this is the first time I have really used it, and I believe that I am in a mental space now to continue with the Bargue course for a long while. I’m tired of my frustration and the almost debilitating  feeling of failure when another painting or drawing goes horribly wrong due to lack of draftsmanship.

After last nights failure, I started today fresh and new with Plate number 1, its going to be a long journey but I’m confident that at the end of it I will be a much better draftsman. Plate one has a total of nine linear drawings of eyes, tonight I did the first three.

Charcoal Drawing Frustration

My studio is a million times better now with all the work that I have put into it, its almost done, and I have no excuse that my working conditions is causing issues. Now if my drawing turns out bad its simply because I lack the skill yet to do it correctly.

Session #091, Work #082


So I purchased some Generals charcoal pencils, pan pastel with a cool palette knife like applicator, they call it a sofft tool, and some really cheap ingres pastel paper. Turns out that after working on the drawing for over an hour I figure out that I hate this paper tremendously and totally stop in disgust. So the following is what I have ended up with.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison


How can I improve the drawing

Luckily I was able to get far enough so I could still compare the drawing. I’m pretty happy with my accuracy of the countour.

Material Testing


Here I did some test of the pan pastels, it goes onto the paper nice and smooth, I can build it up really dark then easily remove it all the way down to the bare paper with an eraser. And the best thing about it is that it stays really well in one place, only the eraser picks it right off the paper.

Session #090, Work #081


I didn’t take this drawing very far tonight because I setup my site size and the figure turned out to be way too small for any kind of detail. Lesson learned there, and I’m going to have to change where I place the still life in relation to my easel so that the figure is larger on the paper and I can really work into the detail.


The Drawing



The Setup



Drawing Comparison

30 minutes comparison
1 hour comparison
1.5 hour comparison

How can I improve the drawing

Again site-size drawing is really the way to go. This drawing was dead on at the very beginning and continued to be very close throughout. It’s so much easier to see the differences and changes when you can compare your drawing to a life size subject.

Session #089, Work #080


This is by far the most intuitive way to draw. I found it much easier to compare my subject with the drawing when I didn’t have to figure out size difference. Further into the drawing it became unnecessary to measure with my pencil, I could flick my eyes back and forth to see issues.

I don’t have my new taboret plan setup so I had to set some fruit on our tiny shelf above the fire place then use my easel at its most highest position. At some point when I get time I will do a lengthy post on my taboret master plan.


The Drawing



The Setup


This was about an hour plus into the drawing.42613-setupb





How can I improve the drawing

The drawing is super close, except for the apple, which I fixed as soon as I saw this comparison. I’m still trying to figure out why I got the apple so wrong. I think it is still hard for me to see differences that small I guess.



How can I improve the values?

Well the background is extremely far off, that should be much darker. And the difference between cast shadow and the fabric in light is much more close than I thought.


Session #088, Work #079


I didn’t do much drawing today. We had plans to see the European Masters show at the Seattle Art Museum then right after that we had to rush home because it was Thursday and that is release night.

So, here is the very short drawing, I basically set a rolled up poster on the window sill. It was a really nice day out and I had the door and windows open. I’m really fortunate to have big windows with north light streaming through, I really need to take advantage of it.

The Drawing




The European Masters Show

It was a good show,but I didn’t find myself moved by any of the pieces. I will add a few pieces here and give my thoughts but I have to say, as I look through google images at paintings, every single picture of these paintings that I just saw in person are absolute crap compared to the real work. I can’t stress this enough, NOTHING compares to the real thing. I’m not saying this because I’m an artist and I have a feeling for this that maybe most people would not say. That is not it at all, literally if you say the painting in person then looked at any of the photos online you would think it was a different painting. Even my wife said “Wow these pictures really suck”. Now that that is out of the way.

The star of the show, Rembrandt.



Everyone knows, Rembrandt is great. They have heard it since they were young, even if they weren’t an artist they have heard about Rembrandt. Everyone uses Rembrandt as the ultimate comparison for every other artist. “Who do you think you are Rembrandt?” is synonymous with “Who do you think your are Shakespeare?”.

I was no different, I was taught that Rembrandt was the best and I believed it. Then I grew up, became an artist and at some point in my life learned to question everything. So, I questioned the belief, and honestly Rembrandt really didn’t move me. I don’t care what the historians have said about Rembrandt I really didn’t care for his work. Kinda like the Beetles I really don’t like the Beetles that much, I have to be careful when I say that, I may get stoned or something… Maybe I shouldn’t say “stoned”… Anyway, the point is, I didn’t care about Rembrandt. UNTIL, The National Gallery of London, I can’t remember exactly which self portrait it was that I was looking at, but the painting actually moved me. I, after questioning Rembrandt’s rule over all artist for years, saw the light and I never questioned his supreme mastery further.

The self portrait above, painted in 1661, isn’t his best, but it was displayed in the middle of the room surrounded by masters who came along close to 100 years later. It was like mannequins surrounding one man, the room was full of lifeless portraits modeled into stone while a scruffy old man moved within his frame.

Yeah, that is a bit dramatic, I’m trying to be eloquent here. Basically the Rembrandt self portraits have life to them, movement, air and power. And I’m kinda tired of the overly modeled perfection of the other portraits. Of course, they are all amazing, but we all know who the king of artists is in this room.

Unfinished-Self-Portrait,-C.1792 Joshua Reynolds Self Portrait late in life catherine-lady-chambers.jpg!Blog Joshua Reynolds portrait right out of school.

The setup of these two painting in the gallery by Joshua Reynolds was great. They both were set next to each other. The right was painting right after he left school as a young artist. The left was a self portrait late in life just a few years before his death. I stood in front of these paintings for a while, comparing, trying to find growth or change in his work. Maybe a bit more bravado with the brushwork, maybe a bit more confidence in his work, something anything. But I couldn’t come up with anything. These could have been painted within the same year, maybe I just can’t see it, but as far as I’m concerned I don’t think he changed as an artist at all. Its as if he became his greatest early on, and then never surpassed that, or maybe never tried.

J910503 J910498

This was another great setup in the show. On the left is a portrait by George Romney and on the right is a portrait by Joshua Reynolds. And they are both of the same woman. Its great to see that the likeness is there in both images. But what I was most interested in was how each artist portrayed “Mrs. Musters”. The plaque next to the painting said she was a very solemn woman and I think Romney nailed it. But Reynolds is was trying to bring the depiction of classical mythology back into painting  so his painting is more like he put Mrs Musters on stage and had her play a part.


Kitty Fisher as “Cleopatra” Dissolving the Pearl was one of the better of all the paintings there and another depiction of Reynolds bringing classical mythology back into art.

There were a few other painters there that it was nice to see. William tuner, one of his earlier pieces. It was a very sober painting compared to his later work, I prefer his later work much better. Now here is an artist that grew and changed and became absolutely amazing further along in his career, Reynolds stagnation through his entire life really confuses me…

We saw a Henry Reaburn portrait of a child. I have always liked Reaburn since I saw him in the National Gallery in DC. And it was necessary that he be in this show with Reynolds, Romney and Rembrandt. Every good curator knows that you have to have the four R’s to really confuse your patrons.

And for the last, I saved Thomas Gainsbourough. Both my wife and I agree, he was terrible. Wow, I was amazed, and I think you can only come to these conclusions when you view artists in a room with their contemporaries. Because they all are amazing artist and in a room by themselves they shine bright, but its that comparative that really enlightens us to why historians say, “this guy was the best in the mid 1800’s”. This is also the main reason why I live the National Gallery in DC, all the rooms are organized by date so you get to see everyone next to their contemporaries, and you really pick out the best in an instant.

At the end of the day the biggest thing that I left with from that show is that I really need to step up my game. To even get to Gainsborough’s level I need work my butt off.


Session #087, Work #078


Life drawing with a male model. O stood for today’s class and my feet didn’t hurt too bad when I was done. I enjoyed standing as I was able to move around a bunch more and get away from my drawing easily. There were a ton of people in the class tonight, for the long pose I even drew in one of the artists sitting in front of me. Like always I had a great time.

What did I learn today?

  • Massing in blocks of value makes for a better looking drawing but really doesn’t help me to draw better, or get proportions correctly. The contour is the real challenge, and what keeps me on my toes and learning the most.
  • Press harder for darker areas, lighter for light areas. Feel the change in values and thickness in line needed for coutour and transfer that sensitivity to the drawing a most physical manner with the charcoal.
  • Make sure I have adequate light on my paper when drawing.
  • “You cannot describe an organizem fully without also describing its environment”… do the background.

The Drawings

1.5 hour pose



5 Minute poses



5 minute pose



30 second poses



5 minute pose



5 minute poses



5 minute poses






Session #086, Work #077


At some point I will do a post on this but I’m building my own taboret. I have a great Idea and I hope it works out. But I was on my way to IKEA to get the major piece of my future taboret when I stopped to paint this scene in a Boeing parking lot. While painting I was hoping that no one would thing I was doing anything nefarious and run me off the lot or worse. With all the bombings and crap, it makes since that a security guard would be super paranoid at a facility that manages something about airplanes.

The painting was fun regardless, but as soon as I got home and pulled it out of my wet panel carrier, I said “holy crap that is way too yellow!” I really need to get these high chroma colors under control.

The Painting



The Location


The following photos are of me playing with the scene on my iphone while painting.

42313-locationb 42313-locationc 42313-locationd




How can I improve the values?

Well at lease the value on the super yellow is pretty close. Looks like I got most of the ground plane wrong here, it all should be much lighter. I have to say, when I get rid of the crazy yellow in this painting I think its not too bad.

Session #085, Work #076


Let me start off by saying that I think this painting was a failure. Why was it a failure? It was rushed, the values are off, the drawing is really bad, and most of the painting was just very complicated fluff. But, I think I can learn a bunch from this painting.

The drawing is obvious, I know I need to draw every day and work my butt off on it. The masses of fluffy nothing craziness I know that I need to work on how to generalize such areas so they look convencing. But the most exciting here is how far the values are off, and why.

The Painting



The Location




No focus on drawing here, just value.




How can I improve the values?

This is crazy, I can’t believe that the yellow areas that I painted are so dark in value. I’m so misled by these high chroma colors that the value is completely wrong. This is definitely an indication that I need to work on dealing with very intense color and judging their values correctly. My only idea to help this is to use my phone on location and turn the painting into grey-scale so that I can learn to see the difference better.

Session #085, Work #075


Lately I have been really influenced by Marc Dalessio not only is he an amazing artist, he does a ton of landscapes, and he give wonderful information on his website. So today’s influence from Marc was three thing. First was wearing a lighter shirt to paint in. The last time I was out here my canvas was super dark and Marc indicated that he only paints in light blue shirts indicating that its reflective values lights up his paintings a bit without any side effects. Second influence was standing up. I usually sit down when I do a landscape because my feet tend to hurt but for this painting I stood the whole time so I could get away from my painting and use a more site size approach. The third influence was medium. The last painting I felt as if the paint was really hard to move around, so I decided to use a Gamblin out of the bottle medium and it was great I should have been doing this the whole time. Not only will I get a better idea of what medium I actually prefer, but its much easier to paint with it.

So with all these changes to my normal technique I think the painting turned out rather well. And I had a ton of fun painting it. So much so that I did another painting after this one, I will post about that next. The focus for this painting was values. Marc indicates that values are the most important in landscape painting with drawing coming in at a close second, and I will have to agree.

Note for a tip that I need to add. “You can only paint as good as you can draw”. Not sure who said that but, I heard it recently, I’m pretty sure it was from Marc Dalessio.


The Painting



The Location


I edited this image on my iphone using Photoshop express. I think I may do this more often to help me see better


focus on values.



How can I improve the values?

So the distant pine trees are too light. Looks like I tend to make distant dark object too light, I did the same thing in the last painting. I think the tops of the right pine trees need to be a bit darker, but that could be incorrect as the light and dark areas at the top of the tree are so broken up that they are tending to blend together.

What is most interesting is that the light areas on the grass are only light due to the high chroma of the paint. Their real value is very dark, wow! I have such issue with these high chroma colors I may have to do a bunch of paintings just dealing with this.

Session #084, Work #074


Sunday, and the weather wasn’t the greatest. The clouds were moving quickly and it was raining just a bit. I setup under a tree to keep the rain off and my canvas was so dark that it was difficult to see anything at all. I ended up moving my easel a couple times, once to get more light, and again to get the patch of sunlight off my canvas once the sun decided to come out.

Wasn’t a bad painting experience though. I was focusing mainly on values. Then I got caught into the mass of crap that is this tree in the foreground. Wow, nothing but a bunch of scattered twigs everywhere. It was very difficult to get it to look any good at all, and I feel I failed there.

The Painting



The Location




Nothing to say about drawing here, my focus was totally on getting the values correct.




How can I improve the values?

In my attempt to push the items across the late further back, I made them way too light. The values of the water and the foreground mass of twigs is good, I just need to darken up the background to get it spot on. I also need to learn how to deal with a mass of twigs and reflections in water.

Session #083, Work #073


I was determined to do a landscape painting this weekend. I even filled my backpack with items to spend the night wherever I ended up. But, it was raining all day so the trip didn’t go so well.

I drove down to Enumclaw Washington and began looking at the state parks to try and get a good view of mountainous terrain. After driving around for way too long and not finding anything I finally settled on a scene by an over flowing river.

The most important thing for this painting while I was working on it was the values, I was trying really hard to get the values just perfect, I even worked on the painting at home from a photo of the scene on the ipad. Turns out that my values were much too light when painting from the scene. I noticed that issue as soon as looking at the ipad image, and began correcting, but I still find them to be far too light in some areas.

Also, I think from now on I’m going to opt for the closer painting trip rather than on farther out. The only way that I will go more than 30 minutes away to paint is if I know for sure that its going to be a nice weekend and I want to stay over night to get more than 4 paintings in over the weekend.

The Painting



The Setup

The scene from the edge of the river, at one point I was afraid that it would rise 2 more inches and I would be soaked.


Later in the evening fixing it from the ipad image.


My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color



No need to show a drawing image here, the drawing is incorrect enough to pick out the issues in the value photo.



Left is the photo with a Photoshop filter to simplify the values. Right is the painting photo before edits, lit by my crappy shop light.

This is the painting before my edits in the evening, unfortunately my studio setup really kills the values. But, I can still see that the work I did from on location has the background forest much too light and the foreground of the river much too light also. And yet, the large rock and land at the bottom of the painting is much too dark. I really need to be better at comparing values on location.

Left is the original photo with no edits. Right is the edits to the painting lit by my terrible shop light.

This is the painting after my edits at night. Background forest is still a bit light even after I darkened it. I’m not going to comment on any of the other value here cause my shop light is really killing any comparative that I can do.

Left, is the photo with Photoshop filter, Right is the painting after edits lit by natural light.

This is the edited painting taken in natural light this morning. I really would love to setup my studio with natural light, or bulbs that are close to natural light, but my apartment is way to small, definitely not a studio.

The painting is using straight titanium white for the lightest parts of the water so I know for sure that that is as high as it can go, which means that the surrounding area in the water needs to be darker. Basically most of this painting is keyed much too light.

Left, is the photo with no edits, Right is the edited painting taken in natural light.

Same painting photo as before but the photo of the landscape is without the Photoshop filter. And again my painting is too light.

Session #082, Work #072

Nothing crazy tonight, just a portion of the statue. I really enjoy charcoal. There is literally no setup, within seconds I can begin drawing.

Short post today, not much to say I have many other things I want to accomplish today and I’m feeling a little pressed for time.

The Drawing



The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color




How can I improve the drawing

The drawing is further off here than I would have liked. The legs were very deceptive, I expected their simplicity to be easy, and it most definitely was not.



Session #081, Work #071

After my drawing class on Thursday I was still motivated to draw and figure out some issues with my process, which produced the following drawings.

Not very good drawing here.


Better drawing then the previous but still has issues that I need to clear up.

I did some tests of all the charcoal that I purchased and I must say that I think I prefer the Winsor Newton medium and soft vine charcoal, only because it is softer and easier to spread than the Nitram H, HB, B.  But I was using the nitram for details and the winsor newton for big areas of dark, which works well considering Winsor newton charcoal is cheaper.

For the most dark areas I will use a generals extra soft charcoal pencil, only at the end of the drawing cause once you put the general charcoal down it doesn’t like to move. Same with the whit Pitt charcoal.

For this drawing tonight I used a process that I’ve been looking at for a while outline at this post on the LARA site. I have to say that this process worked extremely well for a long drawing. But I would only use it for a long drawing. For quick sketches I would prefer to use an approach similar to Charles Hu at the 3kicks artist studio website. I haven’t found anything written about his process but here is a video, and its pretty awesome.


The Drawing



The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color




How can I improve the drawing

Strange how large the hand is. I got that wrong but I’m happy with the rest.



How can I improve the values?



I really need to figure out a good way to compare edges. One of the most important things in this drawing was edges.

Session #80, Work #70


I was working with my new Nitram artist charcoal tonight plus some Winsor Newton artist charcoal. I have figure out that the choice of paper really changes how the charcoal works. For the very soft charcoal newsprint is better, but for the harder charcoal a hot pressed soft paper is best.

After the class I had a good talk with Jamie about the best subject for improving drawing, well that was the beginning question, but our conversation really hit on a lot of great topics and ideas that I need to think about. Most importantly is the balance between choosing subject matter solely for skill improvement or choosing for excitement or message. This is one that I will be thinking about for a while.

Also when I came home I was surfing and found these great 3min drawings by Charles Hu at the 3kicks artist studio website, here is an example.



And while looking for Charles Hu’s website, I figured out that he is the head of the 3kicks artist studio from James Gourney’s site. I love that guy, he’s amazing.

The sensitivity of value and line here in just 3 minutes is amazing.

The Drawings

2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 minute pose



2 Hour pose




Session #079, Work #069


I did one good drawing tonight. Then after that I decided to do some starts. Basically just some beginning drawings without working them up further. I don’t know what happened but they all fell apart and I was really frustrated through the process. So frustrated that I moved the fairy statue back and pulled out a simple box and started drawing that. I figured that the simple shape would bring me back from whatever frustration I was feeling. Maybe I felt that if I could just do something correct I would feel better.

Well, I do feel better after looking at the first drawing I did. I wasn’t able to do a comparison because I moved my subject several times tonight, but I think it looks good.

Tomorrow during work I may practice making single marks every 10 minutes, just one very thought out mark every 10 minutes. Maybe that will teach me to slow down and respect the subject and materials more.

The Drawings









The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color


Session #078, Work #068


Wow what a breath of fresh air. I don’t know what it is, maybe the subject or the larger working space but this was a lot of fun compared to the castle. Something about drawing a figure really is exciting, even when the figure is a really small anatomically incorrect fairy statue.

I really felt like something clicked with a few parts of this statue. I was able to really see and use the weight of the lines better to describe the figure. I always keep repeating in my head, “Try to be more sensitive to what you see”. There is a part in the bottom of the wing where I really used differences in pressure of the charcoal against the paper to describe the wing as best as possible.

I’m definitely drawing this again tonight and the focus will be on sensitivity and line variation, along with accurate drawing.

The Drawing



The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color




How can I improve the drawing

I really went fast on this one, only 30 minutes. I didn’t measure that much, I just went for it, and it turned out pretty good. I will have to see tonight if that was just a fluke or I really can observer and record correctly without exact measurement.

Funny thing, I re-drew the length of her right art and made it longer, I think If I would have left it alone it would have been dead on.




How can I improve the values?

The lower part of her dress is too dark here, and I went a bit too dark on the parts of her wing that are in shadow. But the relative values around the upper body and head are pretty accurate.

Session #078, Work #067


Determined to go as long as I could tonight on this drawing I sat down and began to really focus hard on this drawing trying to get the value and everything as correct as possible. About an hour into the drawing though I really began to loose interest in the subject, it just became very tedious. I was mostly done with the drawing anyway so I put on the finishing touches and decided that I was going to hit another subject before I was done for the night. That will be the next post.

The Drawing



The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color




How can I improve the drawing

The drawing turned out pretty close for such a small subject. I was really focusing hard on the bottom half of the castle and I re-drew a couple areas more that once to get them correct. Mostly I was constantly adjusting values.




How can I improve the values?

The charcoal is so light that a lot of the time I ended up wiping too much off and having to put it back. It seems like I went a bit too dark in some of these values, but I think that the relative values are good.

The more I look at this drawing the more I think that I need less detail. Again this come back too the other issue I have of being able to describe forms simply but accurately.

Session #077, Work #067


For some reason I really couldn’t get motivated today. I went to Carkeek park after deciding not to go for a long hike in the mountains somewhere.



But, even at the park I didn’t feel like painting, mainly because there were so many people. I ended up driving to Saint Edwards Park on the east side of lake Washington. I walked around there for a bit and did a small hike down to the lake.


The building there was interesting, but no matter what I saw I just wasn’t in the mood for a painting.


So I ended up driving home and re-visiting the sand castle that I painted a long while back. Here, here and here. I was even out of sorts with the drawing, just no focus and I only spent an hour on it. Not really happy with my performance today.

The Drawing



The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color




How can I improve the drawing

I’m only comparing the drawing today, I didn’t get into much values at all. Its fairly accurate, but could be much better.

Session #076, Work #066


Not much to say for this one, just wanted to focus on drawing again and try to get it as exact as possible.


The Drawing



The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color


Drawing Comparison


How can I improve the drawing

Happy with the drawing here, but the shadow is way off.

Value Comparison


How can I improve the values?

Not really happy with the values here, I seem to have missed a bunch in the bottle. Although the overall values are very close.

A look back

Two weeks prior of art and a review of the top points for each.

Post Title Summary
Session #075, Work #065 Slow down, accuracy is achieved through careful observation.
Session #74, Work #64
  • Always do my art before a release.
  • Nicolai Fechin is amazing try to achieve the same.
  • Slow down for accuracy.
  • Conte compressed charcoal sucks, vine charcoal and Generals charcoal pencil is better.
Session #73, Work #63
  • Trouble with adherence of vine charcoal to paper.
  • Paper type does not help adherence.
  • Slow down, speed comes through accuracy.
Session #72, Work #62
  • Best painting so far this year.
  • It was done well due to time spent and careful observation.
  • Have faith that a painting will get better after the beginning stages.
Session #71, Work #61
  • For measuring always keeping my torso directly over my butt and straight.
  • The closer the subject the more the measurements can vary.
  • Measuring for a base increment, then using that to measure a distance, then checking that distance with the base increment and something else.
  • Trusting my own judgement over the measurements.
Session #70, Work #60
  • New Rembrandt palette is the best.
  • Drawing bad, take more time.
Session #69, Work #59
  • Painting process of starting on the focus and working outward.
  • Schmid said it’s best to have multiple painting processes and to use the process that would best fit the subject or painting.
  • Boxes are a really good subject for getting drawing down perfect.
  • Slow moving but it looks good and is very accurate.
Session #68, Work #58
  • Schmid Style really fun.
  • In almost every instance the most intense colors come out too dark when I paint.
Session #67, Work #57
  • Super accurate drawing at the beginning doesn’t work well, it stifles energy and makes me want to leave lines.
  • Only worrying about drawing at the end does not work well, if the drawing is too far off you can’t move the shapes around easy enough to fix them.
  • Filling the canvas with paint early on can make it hard to adjust values and color.
  • Lower viscosity of paint is better.
  • Changing viscosity of paint during painting is tedious, I would rather dry brush.
  • Do a post based on artist Rosemary Frantzen
Session #66, Work #56
  • Charcoal is much better to work with in life drawing class.
Session #65, Work #55
  • Hierarchy as completion order should be separate from importance.
  • Value, Color, Edges, and drawing and Composition is done before the painting is started.
  • This working order works well for portraits, need to incorporate more measurements during painting.
Session #64, Work #54
  • Final stroke painting, hard.
  • I should always strive for the final stroke as soon as possible, or maybe with every stroke. Maybe the key, is to act like every stroke should be the final stroke but allow for adjustments throughout the painting.
  • Theory: What separates masters from novices is time, the time it takes to gather experience and knowledge to make strokes perfectly accurate. What separates masters and really great painters is time, the time it takes to complete a painting, because the really great painters if given enough time can render life perfectly, a master can do it in a short session. So based on this theory a master painter is a person that can complete a perfectly accurate and beautiful painting quickly and with ease.
  • Edges seem to be the biggest issue after drawing. Without sensitive edges this whole thing turned into a very abstract looking painting.
Session #63, Work #53
  • Paint mountains up close, or you have to crop your painting way down for them to be large enough.
  • Need to work on atmospheric perspective.
  • Slow down for fluff and observe as best as possible.

Session #075, Work #065


I’m reminded of a drawing by Andrew Wyeth of an older woman, and even though the drawing was in charcoal you could tell that she was wearing two type of fabric, one silk, one cotton. With that in mind a chose a subject today that would indicate a very different type of service, metallic.

Unlike the previous drawing, I really took my time here getting the measurements correct. As always, at my current expertise this is the best course, slow and practiced.

The Drawing



The Setup



My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color




How can I improve the drawing

I’m very happy how close the drawing is with the subject. Drawing an ellipse exactly like the subject is difficult. The shadow is the worst drawn part of this, and that isn’t really super bad.



How can I improve the values?

The back gray wall, its actually the backside of my mirror, is much too light as compared to the subject. I could have gone darker with every value actually, although I’m not sure if the charcoal could have achieved the black areas.

Session #074, Work #064


Thursday nights are release nights and some time they do not go smoothly and we end up working super late. I usually do my painting or drawing right after work just in case the release doesn’t go well, but this time I went to the Frye art museum instead and it was well worth the late night.

Frye art museum

I learned about the Frye art museum during my weekly life drawing classes with Jamie Bollenbach. It is actually a really great museum, with free admission and free parking.  I wasn’t expecting to be so influenced by the work in this museum but I was. The first pieces that I saw were from Nicolai Fechin and everything he did was amazing. I’ve never seen paintings with such energy. From far away these works look like a well rendered portrait, still life or landscape, but upon getting up close and personal with the paintings the subject dissolves into a torrent of frantic and energetic abstraction of paint. I have heard tons of contemporary artist today who are at the height of their ability and they struggle to keep “life” in their paintings. Compared to Fechin every contemporary realist artist I have seen to date seems flat, dead and overly modeled in comparison.


His drawings were equally amazing. Seeing these a day after my life drawing class, I have a deep urge to devote everything to my art.

I was going to post more images of his work but every image I look at online pales in comparison to viewing the real painting. And there was one painting in particular which I cannot find anywhere on line. I will have to return to the museum soon and purchase their book of the show.

I was so influenced by the Nicoloai Fechin show that I went straight to Blick art materials and purchased some better materials for charcoal drawing and even did some comparison testing of the materials.

The Drawing


Not sure what was going on here, but this drawing turned out terrible. I think I really wanted to capture an energetic life in this drawing only a master like Fechin can do and all I ended up doing was making a mess. I always have this urge to speed up and blast out a gorgeous piece but all that ends up is me realizing that I need to slow down and wait for the speed to come with experience.

Materials Comparison

The trouble I’m having with vine charcoal is that its adherence to the paper is so fragile. I’m looking for a good charcoal that can adhere well to the paper yet be removed or moved around easily. So I purchased a couple of conte compressed charcoal sticks, I was hoping it would give me what I wanted. So I did a bunch of tests of all the current materials that I have upon a sheet of Arches hot pressed 90lb watercolor paper. At some point when my drawing becomes strong enough I will spend the money and get the ultimate 300lb paper by Arches.


These are marks from various materials. Indicated left to right we have, a very cheap extra soft vine charcoal, Winsor Newton hard vine charcoal, Conte compressed charcoal HB, Conte compressed charcoal 2B. Then I did a single swipe with my finger to each one and below that a single swipe with a needed eraser.

As you can see the vine charcoal is easily moved and erased, while the conte crayon does nothing but smear… badly. Its like it has a bunch of wax in it, in terms of work ability the conte is terrible. But it does make a very exact dark line and building it up can achieve some really dark blacks, but if you put it on the page it will stay there no matter what.


Here is another test with the same sheet. I took a white magic eraser and tried to see how much I could get off the page for each material. I almost get back to bare paper with the vine charcoal, but again the conte just smears around and is terrible. If I ever use this it will be with finishing detail black strokes.



Another test, this time I added Generals extra soft charcoal pencil and a 6b graphite pencil. I tried to make similar marks with each, then on the top of the marks I did a single swipe with my finger, below that several swipes with a kneaded eraser and below that more furious erasing with a white magic eraser.

Again I turn my nose up at the conte compressed charcoal, and I find that a better alternative is the Generals charcoal pencil. It goes on with some really dark lines and can be built up in dark areas but its nice and dry and doesn’t smear like the conte. The more I think about it, more I like the vine charcoal, if I could only get it to stay on the page a little bit better it would be absolutely perfect. This is why I purchased online last night what may be the best charcoal you can buy, and its not that expensive. Nitram Academie Fusains Charcoal, I will be getting these in on Tuesday, right before my Wednesday class, I can’t  wait to try them out, and I hope they live up to the ability shown in this great post by Luca Indraccolo.

Session #073, Work #063

Life drawing at A & C supply. Tonight I worked with charcoal again and still loving it. A fellow artist, Karen, lent me some Strathmore charcoal paper cause I wanted to try and see if the charcoal would adhere better to the paper. I think the paper would be better used with charcoal pencil cause the sticks didn’t stick very well to the paper at all, actually I would think a bit worse than the newsprint.

The Drawings

Test for 1.5 hour pose


15 minute pose


1.5 Hour pose


30 second poses


30 second poses


30 second poses


30 second poses


30 second poses


2 minute pose


2 minute pose


2 minute pose


2 minute pose


10 minute pose



Session #072, Work #062

I will consider this probably the best painting I have done so far this year. It really has a bit of everything. Extreme color, reflections, naturally bright colors, full value scale and what I call fluff (a mass of jumbled information that is hard to paint).

This has also been the longest single session for a painting also, I wonder if there is a coloration? The last painting I worked on for a long time, which spanned several sessions, turned out really well also. I had a great time getting the reflection in the Google Nexus tablet just right. At one point early into the painting I was getting worried because things were not going well, but I stuck with it and trusted that if I worked at it things would turn around, and i did. The Kiwi was surprisingly hard to paint, it was hairy so it had a very structured fluffiness to it that was hard to capture. The paper hay, or whatever you call it, in the background was difficult. This kind of fluff is always hard to paint, its difficult to describe it without painting every single strand of hay. This kind a generalization I need to work on.

The Painting

Photo in north light.


Photo on easel in unnatural light.

The Setup


My hierarchy of painting importance

  1. Drawing
  2. Value
  3. Edges
  4. Composition
  5. Color




How can I improve the drawing

This is interesting, I didn’t focus very much on drawing this perfectly, and I got a bunch of things wrong. But I believe the painting to be very strong regardless. I learned from my last two drawings that I need to really test those angles multiple times. I think if I would have gotten that correct the drawing would have been much more solid.



How can I improve the values?

The intense colors are very deceptive in value. Through previous paintings I knew that I would usually make the values too dark on things like apples and oranges and I corrected it well in this painting, but only for the apple and orange. The reflection in the Nexus is way to light, and the nexus box intense colors are to light in a few areas. Also the Kiwi is too dark on the side facing the light.

Practice makes perfect here, I really liked this setup, I may revisit it again.