Category Archives: Inspiration

Respecting Children’s Drawings

Children have tremendous respect for drawing. They are in awe of anyone who draws a picture for them. For example, they’ll pay close attention when cartoons are sketched on a place mat at a restaurant. Children are equally impressed with simple drawings as they are with renderings of an accomplished artist. But do children gain the same respect paid for drawings they make? Continue reading Respecting Children’s Drawings

My Brief History of Sketching Trees

As a young child, you likely learned to draw a tree by using a few circular shapes to symbolize masses of leaves supported by a narrow rectangle to depict the tree’s trunk. And if you were in a creative mood that day, a few angled lines could be added to suggest its branches.

1992 San Clemente, California. Winter branches outside my studio window. 9B pencil.

Of course drawings of trees could vary widely depending on where you lived as a kid. Tall triangles symbolized towering conifers. Or a long and curved line topped with serrated, curved shapes became a palm tree. It was easy and fun to draw a tree.

Unfortunately, the joy of drawing trees—and everything else—is abandoned by many kids as they become immersed in the rigors of writing, math, and reading. Most people leave childhood drawing behind to pursue life’s more grown-up callings. But not me.

2017 Santa Cruz, California. Fall leaves in the parking lot outside my studio. Micron pen, watercolor.

Drawing became my livelihood and a continuous source of joy. And as an adult, trees have remained one of my core subjects of interest. Various species of trees have been tapping their roots in the pages of my sketchbooks for several decades. It is like having my own forest of drawn memories bound together.

Following are some of my sketched moments with trees…

Continue reading My Brief History of Sketching Trees

Drawing is Like Crossing a River

One afternoon, while rearranging the studio between sessions with students, I picked up a vase of flowers. Holding the vase in my hands, I slowly rotated it to notice a cluster of freshly cut tree leaves embracing a curved carnation stem—they seemed to be performing a graceful dance together. Fascinating drawing subjects have a way of finding you when you least expect it.

Even though I had a busy schedule that day, this shock of elegant beauty engaged my curiosity. I set the vase aside and attempted to move on to other tasks. But glances of vibrant colors and alluring rhythms of details brought me back to the flower arrangement, forcing me to consider drawing it later that evening. Continue reading Drawing is Like Crossing a River

The Small Drawing Habit

In the opening scene of the classic comedy What About Bob, we see a perplexed Bob Wiley, played by Bill Murray, contemplating his fate of stepping outside the door of his apartment and onto the streets of New York. He quickly becomes overwhelmed by his fears of just about everything and everyone in the world.

As Bob finally meets with Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss, he sits in awe of the prominent psychiatrist’s suggestion to start with reasonable goals. “Don’t think of everything you have to do to get out of the building, Bob. Think about what you have to do to get out of this room,” says Dr. Marvin as he hands Bob a copy of his book Baby Steps. Comedic escapades ensue as Bob applies life-transforming small habits to the bigger complexities of life.

If it’s difficult for you to set—and maintain—your goal to draw regularly, try the advice given to Bob and take baby steps toward an easy and satisfying drawing habit.

Here are simple steps for starting your small drawing habit: Continue reading The Small Drawing Habit

The Things We Draw

While paging through Charles Bargue’s Drawing course book, Scout’s eyes lit up as we came upon the print of the plaster cast torso.

“It even has block-in lines!” she said enthusiastically, referring to the angled directional lines that would help her depict weight distribution of the figure’s muscles. We promptly bookmarked the page as the subject for her drawing session.

Youth sketcher Scout found the plaster cast torso print to be the perfect subject for Thursday’s session. Her devotion to many hours of study shows in her stellar work.

Choosing a subject to draw is an important aspect of the drawing experience. Your subject should strike an emotional chord that stimulates your eye, builds your skills, and fits your purpose for drawing.

Sometimes I wonder, do we choose our drawing subjects, or do they choose us? Continue reading The Things We Draw

Realism or Abstract? You Decide

As we welcome new Level 1 students to Drawing Lab sessions, our courageous Level 3 sketchers continue to lead the way, forging ahead to explore the possibilities of realistic and abstract drawing.

In the above drawing of a sand dune, youth student Jesse ventures out of his comfort zone to learn blending techniques of colorful Tombow pens. The realistic ridge of the dune is defined by a curved contour edge. Bold highlights and richly layered shadows show 3-dimensional form of the massive dune.

But we also become intrigued with Jesse’s experimental process of blending ink colors. We begin to share his fascination with orange, yellow, and black ink commingling with the paper’s surface. The line between realism and abstract drawing is blurred, and we are enthralled with Jesse’s subjective experience with materials as much as the image of the sand dune itself. Continue reading Realism or Abstract? You Decide