Life Drawing in Summer

Life Drawing in summer is one of the best ways to work on those old drawing skills. Here are 2 of my attempts at portrait drawings (25-minute sessions) from this Monday night’s “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 drawing 2

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.

figure drawing 1This 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 artists 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 Mondays each month for the rest of the summer. You can contact Terry at the link above or me anytime if you’d like to come to join us. There is nothing more challenging to draw than the human form.

Drawing on Mondays

Drawing Figure 04/19/21

Drawing on Monday, from a live model is wonderful. During the past two weeks, our models were interesting and held quite still. 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 created that evening.

It is amazing how challenging it is to draw a 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 really 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.

Figure 04/26/21The 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 a 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 really 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.

Fiddlin’ Red Simpson Model

FiddlinRedSimpsonWe had Fiddlin’ Red Simpson as our model for life drawing this week. He 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.

Fiddlin Red Photo

Surprise, Surprise!

Fiddlin Red Simpson 03FiddlinRed480

During the breaks “Fiddlin’ Red Simpson,” showed us an 1800’s fiddle that he found in his homestead cabin. He refurbished it and listening to him play it, was truly a gift. 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 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 gigs, please let him know at 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.

Minerva Amaryllis Watercolor

Minerva Amaryllis 01This is a photograph of “Minerva Amaryllis”, one of our blossoming beauties that I will be painting in watercolor. Its petals range in color from salmon to pink with white tiger stripes extending out from the center. Peter 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.


Minerva Amaryllis 02
First, I sketch the shapes using a 2H pencil, drawing very lightly so lines are erasable later. Then, 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. Starting with a mixture of orange and gamboge yellow, then apply drops of quinacridone magenta and alizarin crimson for the darkest edges.

It is fascinating how the watercolors do almost all the work by themselves. They combine in expressive gradations until they make edges that are sharp right where the wetness stops. This picture shows how very brightly the colors look when wet, but, remember that they will fade as they dry.

Minerva Amaryllis 03

You can see how much the colors fade when dry when you compare the first image with this one.
Minerva Amaryllis 04The approach for the second, third (behind), and fourth petals are pretty much the same except for how the lighting and shadows change as they stack on top of each other.Minerva Amaryllis 05

Where a petal would cast a shadow on the petal underneath or behind it I add a touch more of the alizarin to darken it.Minerva Amaryllis 06

Next, look at the beginning of where the light and shadow occur on the flower surfaces. The stem below the blossom is heavily darkened.

Minerva Amaryllis 08Following this, apply a light wash in the background petals that is more muted in value to exaggerate distance.

Minerva Amaryllis 10

With a light wash showing the sky background and greenery texture from below to eye level, we can begin painting the details.

Dream Inspirations

Dream Inspiraiton, Jesus Focus With Dove
14.5″w x 17″h pencil on sketch paper. Jesus focus is embodied in rays illuminating out of His left eye, as he beckons us and His dove with his right hand.


A lot of my images are gift dream inspirations. A vivid dream occurs with an image or sound and sometimes words are spoken. If I am lucky, it flashes through my mind right as I wake up and 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 advice, cause you usually get a real direct reply. This was a reply with Him standing in the wind saying, “Don’t lose 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.

Jesus Focus With Dove 1
Progress shot showing beginning layout with facial features.

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.

Jesus Focus With Dove 2
His right hand extending toward the viewer is rendered.
Jesus Focus With Dove 3
The background shading reveals the dove’s flight.
Jesus Focus With Dove 4
With the hair in the wind and other background surfaces shaded it comes to life.

A Child Pencil Portrait

child portrait EM
18″w x 12″h pencil sketch on paper

Here is a pencil portrait that is drawn from pictures of a friend when their family came 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 she is so very very photogenic.

You don’t often get photographs that actually relay the lively personality of their model but this little girl’s photo is the epitome of that. She is a person who loves to play in snow smiling and laughing often.


Unethical, Already Apprehended Sketch
24″w x 18″h pencil on paper. A window sill with a saying, “It is only unethical if you get caught.” Accompanied by a kerosene lantern on top of a bible.

Sketching About Unethical

It’s only unethical if you get caught.

Serendipity or is it just part of the plan? Yesterday I completed a pencil sketch of these items noticed on my window sill by my 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. Which is a scary situation all in itself.

Usually, I get inspiration from dreams that need to be drawn immediately. This was different because it was a realization when I was fully awake, similar to having a lightbulb come on for me as I gazed at the items on the window sill. Wow, check that out. The items themselves are not phenomenal by themselves but their juxtaposition created quite a thought process to spin around in my mind. There is more than one rendition of this scene on the blog, check the pen & ink drawing.


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). Then, 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.
Unethical is Unethical

Items Around My Desk

unethical messageMade a discovery while noticing random items around my desk sitting on the window sill and the edge of my desk this morning. I was admiring the sky and little layer of snow and then Bingo! There it was.

Sitting on my window sill there is a little saying page-turner thing, that I love to turn to the next page each morning… most of the time it gives me quite a chuckle. This morning it said something that made me think about our world and all the corruption evident in politics.

“It’s only unethical if you get caught.”

That sure is relevant today.” My next thought was, “Why is it that politicians can get away with unethical acts, they seem to be exempt from the laws?” It is so screwed up, and then my thoughts began to spiral.

But, before things can get out of hand, I notice the beautiful light outside and start thinking about all the beauty that God places outside for us to see. In the next moment, I  think “That kerosene lantern makes a wonderful warm light.” Then my eyes drift down and I see my bible laying right there. And a revelation ensues.

Someone already knows ALL of what we do!

If it is






God Works In Wonderful Ways, doesn’t He? Remembering this simple fact calms my worries about the government and politics all around me. I can let it all go and enjoy rendering the scene in my little artist bubble where birds sing and butterflies flutter around in a field of beautiful flowers. It is all in His hands. I am going to do this ink sketch again “in pencil” today, to just let this thoughtfully sink in. Besides, I love to draw in pencil anytime, and I could use the practice. Haha.

Different Approaches to White Heron

Great White Heron photograph
Great White Heron photograph by
Elise Beattie.


Finding different approaches to painting this beautiful Great White Heron is what our Fearless Painting class guru, Elise Beattie, has challenged us over the weekend. This is some beautiful photography Elise Beattie!

If we choose to accept this assignment…. this challenge will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

Great White Heron Pen & Ink
Great White Heron Pen & Ink

Initially, I do a quick black and white study in my sketchbook with a gel pen (nothing special).

sketch Great White Heron
sketch of Great White Heron for a watercolor

I scrounge around in the studio to find a leftover piece of watercolor paper from a project 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 for the art collector, you know. I decided on a much closer view for this Heron rendering in watercolor. The dimensions are taken off of my B&W sketch.

Proportional Divider
Drafting Proportional Divider

When I want accuracy, I have to grease those crazy artist mind gears. I break out a tool from the old drafting days that will ensure 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. It is unlikely that anyone is dying to learn how to do this though.

Proportional Divider in German
Prop Divider instructions in German

On the instruction sheet, there are some really useful instructions in German on the flip side, just in case you were wondering. How is your German? Mine is terrible.

I do anticipate making a third layout today using a different approach with acrylics on a canvas board, but I haven’t gotten there yet. First, I need to finish my piano practice.