Archive for the ‘Drawings’ Category

Documenting Your Work

trialer trash & catEasy to overlook, and often regretted, many of us do not do an adequate job of documenting and keeping a good catalog of our work.

We all know it is good to keep a portfolio, in fact we should keep different ones that reflect different artistic themes, media or visual narrative. With all the advancements in digital media it is easier than before. It is all about getting in the habit. Consider setting aside a time that has a bench mark . . . at the end of a semester or workshop, the summer and winter solstice . .  just find a time and make it a habit. Get others involved to keep you motivated and give you a second opinion about what to keep in and what to recycle.

Here is Gracie holding down my mixed media piece entitled ‘Trailer Trash’. Oh Gracie, such a good little helper you are and thank you for making sure you touched the Nupastle.


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Keeping a Sketchbook

Artistis talk about it all the time, keeping a sketchbook. I happen to have two ’emergency’ sketchbooks in the car, an assortment of sizes and paper types at home and another collection of sketchbooks at the school where I teach. I still end up drawing on napkins, receipts, and the back of menus. I use watercolor (a Cotman Mini Watercolor Set lives in the car) sharpies, prisma pencils, ball point pens, graphite pencils, colored pencils, woodless graphite pencils, assorted markers . . . if it makes a decent mark I probably have it and have used it. I try not to paint and drive, saving that for when someone else is at the wheel. My mentor and friend, Walt Stanchfield, confessed to occasionaly drawing while driving during the years he made the commute from his home in Solvang to the workshops at the Disney Studio in Burbank. I shall make no such confession here.


TV sketch 02

drawing from TV

TV sketch 01b

more TV sketches







From the San Francisco Zoo



ideas for my sister’s book


Keep a sketchbook, it is your visual diary. There are so many wonderful folks to follow that post their sketches in their tweets and Instagram.  I will start tweeting my sketches but till then here is a collection of sketches done over the last year.


Do check out my former Disney compadre, David Pimentel’s blog & instagrams, another “Walt kid” and fantastic sketch artist. https://twitter.com/drawingsdp


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Too often we start a drawing without having a clear purpose in mind. While this may feel like an okay idea, it is a slow way to grow in your artwork. Growth is intentional not accidental, you need to start every sketch by first thinking about what it is you want to say. Ask yourself: what is the mood, what is the story, what composition is going to tell that best, what kind of cropping should I be doing?

One of the best ways to avoid the pitfall of drawing in our sketchbook without a purpose or direction is to dedicate the space or composition before you start. An easy approach is to just simply have one drawing per page. I call this having a “playground”. So establish that playground: either dedicate a framed space or a single page and think about the story, then start to draw. I do value multiple sketches/studies as a way of thinking and studying, but for the most part, most of the time I do try and dedicate that “playground” for each drawing.

Here are couple of examples, two of Andy the model in his Charles Dickens get up, and a page from a digital sketchbook done at the zoo.

Andy take2Andy take tea

You really have to hunt around in the sketchbook drawing of the camels to see what is working and what is not, while with the drawings of Andy the success or failure of my choices is clear right away. The decision to really grow as an artist with every sketch requires a bit of focus and planning before that first mark is made.


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Footnotes on Feet

Get the foot shape right (in perspective) and then get the shoe on with construction lines that tell us about how the shoe is made.

Get the foot shape right (in perspective) and then get the shoe on with construction lines that tell us about how the shoe is made.

The illusion of depth and space in a 2-D drawing is often won or lost by a foot. To be more accurate, the placement of the feet in a drawing are key to establishing a sense of perspective, a feeling of balance and weight, and of attitude and energy. Foot placement, position and direction also enhance all of these attributes in your drawings but be careful you do not destroy the illusion of depth balance or energy by careless or sloppy foot placement. Remember to simplify the shape of the foot. Ask yourself what is the position? From the side it has along wedge shape to it, coming straight at you it take on the shape of a triangle with steep sides. Make sure the silhouette is clear and strong.  A good way to practice is by simply drawing a variety of shoes (without feet in them) and paying close attention to the construction by drawing the seams and detail.

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Sketching in Chinatown

Finally did some people watching, and of course sketching, in Chinatown this last weekend in February. It was lots of the older folk either playing cards or taking care of their grandchildren. Fellow artist, and AAU student, Jessica joined me. It was so nice to be outdoors with everyone and drawing.

rooftop style

rooftop style

Lots of grandchildren being held, followed or chased by their grandparents.

Grandmother chasing girl chasing pigeons

Grandmother chasing girl chasing pigeons

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norm r1s

These two were looking at ‘The Golden Rule’ painting which appeared on the April 1, 1961 cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

It was a cold and blustery day at the Crocker Art Museum but the Norman Rockwell exhibit was warming many hearts. It remained a great show, though there were fewer paintings than I had seen at the Rockwell exhibition back in 2000 in San Diego. The best part was sharing it with fellow artists Nikhil, Ashley & Erica. What continues to stand out the most to me is not only Norman’s attention to the craft of painting but also his stunning compositions. More on that later. Here are a few sketches I did and some fun pics of us at the exhibit.


    norm r2snorm r3s  

 nikhil norm ashley norm  erica norm

 coco norm  

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'Moki' in my favorite 'big nasty' charcoal

‘Moki’ in my favorite ‘big nasty’ charcoal

I appreciate the partnership I get when using traditional tools.  In all fairness the  pens and styluses are getting better and better at mimicking different drawing mediums, at simulating tilt and edge control, but they lack the independent nature the traditional mediums supply. The element of surprise, the slightly random nature of the raw material, the condition of the paper on that day at that temperature, all these variables add to a creative partnership that I do not experience in the digital realm. I do like the digital pipeline ease, the quick color and graphic add-on features, but I do not see digital drawing tools ever replacing my traditional ones, they simply expand my range of options. The dance of my thick charcoal over rough newsprint is like sculpting the form on paper. The joy of creation is challenged and enriched by the process.

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