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
As a kid, I remember squirming with anticipation during the climatic moment of truth in vintage Clint Eastwood westerns. The camera zooms to a closeup of Eastwood’s eyes, followed by unbearable tension as the day of reckoning swelters beneath a desert sun. With eyes narrowly focused, the legendary Clint Squint always spelled doom for the bad guys. We sketchers can take a cue from Eastwood’s famous squinting technique in learning to draw more accurately from observation. Continue reading When the Drawing Gets Tough—Squint!
Autumn brings us Halloween, the time of year when our thoughts are haunted by ghosts and goblins. But for those of us who are learning to draw, the zombies of perfectionism can be the most terrifying creatures—every day of the year! Continue reading Attack of the Zombies of Perfectionism
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
The mountains of Santa Cruz are a great place to practice drawing fast. While on a mountain bike ride, I completed the ink study shown above in just a few minutes. Being able to draw anything, anywhere—fast or slow—is how I like to roll. Continue reading Fast & Furious or Slow & Curious?
Whether sketching buildings or humans, Drawing Lab students learn to attack their studies with the same key strategy: Find the basic structure of your subject before going to a finished drawing. Continue reading The Key to Successful Drawing: Looking for the Basic Structure of Things
After your first session or two with me it becomes clear—while spending hours practicing my block-sketch-draw method, we often find ourselves in a tortoise and hare race.
As you jump ahead to attempt drawing perfectly finished lines, I slow you down to keep your line work light and open. As you slow down to finish a specific area of your drawing, I come along and have you bounce around the entire composition, comparing the size of one shape to another, correcting the distance between an angled line and a curved one, and so on.
This constant process of comparative and relational measuring can prompt students’ inward screams, “When will I ever get to finish a drawing?” Continue reading Getting to the Finish Line
Ah, the joy of leaving the complexities of life behind so we can relax in the studio to… um… draw the complexities of life.
Students like Max (shown above) enjoy learning to draw things that tend to be marvelously complex. Last Thursday, Max distilled the essence of pine cones on a branch through keen observation of patterns, contour edges, and color. Continue reading Simplifying Complexity