Here are 2 of my attempts at portrait drawings (25 minute sessions) from this Monday night “life drawing” class. We did portraits of a beautiful high school volleyball player who sat real still, which makes the drawing or painting much easier on all of us.
When I started going in January 2021, I was terrible. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get a likeness of the model. Now, things are improving. It is amazing what a little practice can do.
This class is an artist date night for me. I get to see fellow artists and visit with what is important to us. We are a fun group of artist’s and we have all become friends. We meet for a three hour life drawing session with a live model every Monday evening at Terry Lee’s studio in Coeur d’Alene, ID. However thanks to good old COVID, attendance dropped, so we changed to 2 Monday’s each month for the rest of the summer. You can contact Terry at the link above or myself anytime if you’d like to come join us. There is nothing more challenging to draw than the human form.
We had wonderful models on Monday evening life drawing these past two weeks. Last week, the male model posed in different positions for 25 minute sets and here is my best out of the group of pencil drawings from the evening.
The next week we had a female model posing for portrait night. This is where we have the same pose for all three hours. The model takes a break after 25 minutes and then comes back to the same position again after the break, throughout the 3 hour session. Here is the best portrait rendered in charcoal, from a group of three drawings for the night.
It is amazing how challenging it is to draw the human figure. A slight change in angle or lighting makes the drawing totally different. I dearly love the time spent at Terry Lee’s studio in Coeur d’Alene ID. Talking with the other artists and seeing everyone’s work is a true inspiration. We have artists working in watercolor, oils, pencil, and acrylics. There is a collection of some real talented local artists. Sometimes, I feel like I have just finished doing a 5 mile run after three hours of intense drawing, but it improves my drawing every time.
Life drawing class was great fun this week. We had Fiddlin’ Red Simpson who is a wild west personality and owner of the music store in Sandpoint Idaho (111 Church St). This wonderful character posed for three hours at the studio of fellow artist Terry Lee for our life drawing class. This sketch above is my favorite 20 minute image from the night.
During the breaks “Fiddlin’ Red Simpson,” showed us a 1800’s fiddle that he found in his homestead cabin. He refurbished it and listening to him play it, was truly a gift as we heard a sound that was absolutely beautiful! Talk changed to be about the many adventures that this man has participated in, along with many kinds of music venues experienced. It was like being in the company of my Mom again to hear this caliber of talent musically.
As we drew and painted I found myself easily seeing a wagon train journey, envisioning horseback riding across the prairies or Yellowstone. What a great era to live in. It was a very welcome walk back-in-time for me.
This man performs for small and large events with a 2 to 4 person band called the Risky Gents, see the Monarch Mountain Band. If you hear of any gig’s, please let him know at email@example.com. As I looked at the information on the internet about Fiddlin’ Red, it became clear that we were really lucky to have him in the studio Monday night. I look forward to seeing him again.
This is a photograph of one of our blossoming beauties named, “Minerva Amaryllis”, that I will be painting in watercolor. It’s petals range in color from salmon to pink with white tiger stripes extending out from the center. My husband grows this one, and many others in our kitchen window. When they quickly spring-up with their bright blossoms it can literally take-your-breath-away. Amaryllis always cheer-up the house in the winter.
First, I sketch the shapes using a 2H pencil, drawing very lightly so lines are erasable later on.
Next, I wet the first petal area being very careful to reserve (keep dry) the area in the middle. This dry area is where the white stripes will be. Proceeding on, I combine colors “wet-on-wet” in this pre-wetted area. Start with a mixture of orange and gambouge yellow, then apply drops of quinacridone magenta and alizaron crimson for the darkest edges. It is fascinating how the watercolors do almost all the work themselves. They combine in expressive gradations till they make edges that are sharp right where the wetness stops. This picture shows very bright the colors look when wet, but, remember that they will fade as they dry.
The approach for the second, third (behind), and fourth petals are pretty much the same except for the lighting changes as they stack.
Now, is when I look at the beginning of where the light and shadow occur on the flower surfaces. The stem below the blossom is heavily darkened.
Following this, I apply a light wash in the background petals that is more muted in value to exaggerate distance.
With a light wash showing the light sky background and greenery texture from below to eye-level, I am ready to begin painting the details.
A lot of my images are gift inspirations from my dreams. A vivid dream occurs with an image or sound and even sometimes words spoken, and if I am lucky it flashes through my mind right as I wake up. Then I run down to the studio to put it down on paper before it fades away. This pencil sketch is one of those dreams.
I went to bed worried about the state of the world asking, “What am I going to do Lord?”. You know, one of those times when the world’s troubles monopolize your mind making it impossible to feel any serenity.
Be careful when you ask the Man Upstairs for advise, cause you usually get a real direct reply. This was a reply with Him standing in the wind saying, “Don’t loose your Focus!” as He reached out to me and right then, a bright white dove returned home to sit on His hand. His eye had a great sparkle that extended out making everything bright. Right then I knew everything would be alright.
Steps to do a pencil rendering of that dream. I first sketch out a very preliminary layout moving items here and there to get the basic idea down. I begin to search my image files and the internet for references for the hand position, and the facial expression. Next is a search for a flying dove image in my reference books and online. With the help of Photoshop I am able to build a layout to work from that fits what I remember.
Here is a pencil portrait drawn from pictures of a friend when the family cam out to visit. Her picture was just so perfect I had to see if I could capture her with a sketch. I think I have pretty much got her personality here. I love her fabulous bone structure and so very very photogenic.
Serendipity or is it just part of the plan? Yesterday I completed a pencil sketch of items noticed on my window sill and desk in the studio. Three items just happened to be right in front of me and it was a little freaky because….they made me think.
First off, that saying really caught my eye because it s a thought I have had a lot of lately. Next to this contradictable saying sets an old fashioned “source of light” (God). A light source that lights our way when the electricity is out at our home. You can see that both of these items rest on top of my bible lying on the desk.
Our Fearless Painting class guru, Elise Beattie, has challenged us over the weekend. And, If we choose to accept this assignment, we will have to find impressive different approaches to painting this beautiful Great White Heron…. this challenge will self-destruct in 5 seconds. This is some beautiful photography Elise Beattie!
Initially I do a quick black and white study in my sketchbook with a gel pen (nothing special).
I scrounge around in the studio to find a leftover piece of watercolor paper from a previous assignment to work on. This simply means there is a surprise ink drawing on the back of the sheet for anyone purchasing the image. Kind of a two for one prize. I decided on a much closer view for this Heron rendering in watercolor. The dimensions are taken off of my B&W sketch.
When I want accuracy, I have to grease those crazy artist mind gears. Breaking out a tool from the old drafting days will insure correct results twice as big on the watercolor paper. The tool I use is called a “Precision Deluxe Proportional Divider” (made in Germany).
Would you like a tutorial about how to use this tool in another post on this blog? Leave me a comment if you do.
On the instruction sheet there are some real useful instructions in German on the flip side, just in case you were wondering.
I do anticipate making a third layout today using a different approach with acrylics on a canvas board, but I haven’t got there yet. But first, I need to finish my piano practice. 🙂
Many of my paintings and drawings are derived from dreams from the night before. If I go to bed with something bothering me, I can look forward to finding answers in visions and thoughts arriving vividly with full color and brightness.