Sunday, December 28, 2014

Giving hands

It was a beautiful Christmas this year with Sarah hosting the annual cookie party and cooking the traditional Christmas Eve goose, mom cooking the Christmas turkey, and everyone home for the holidays.  As we come to the end of another year lets not forget to embrace the spirit of giving and keep that spirit throughout the new year.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Olive and Ernesto

For my sisters birthday in January I offered a commissioned painting of her choice.  Of course I could have guessed she would want a portrait of one of her dogs.  And in fact she requested a portrait of both her dogs (since the commission she has adopted a third dog named Lulu Bell) with a bayou theme.  She sent me a few photos to assist me in my composition but little did I know how much work is involved in a commissioned painting.  Well, after much effort I completed the painting in August but it needed time to dry and I also oiled it out and applied touch up varnish to give it a nice finished look.  I shipped it off yesterday and I hope she likes it.  Below is the final painting along with some sketches and color studies.
Framed painting
Final painting
Original sketch
Color study


I found a beautiful portrait of Leelee Sobieski on IMDB and sketched this drawing in the order that William Maughan recommends in his book Drawing the Head - gesture, proportion, shadow shapes, then details.

Friday, December 5, 2014


At BACAA this Thursday I had the opportunity to work on a portrait.  I spent more time on measuring and proportions before rendering the planes and values.  I also looked for connecting lines, shapes, and values.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Anson Mount?

I find IMDB a good source of photos to practice portrait drawing.  Here is a portrait of Anson Mount, star of Hell on Wheels.  I struggled a bit with the placement of features and later realized I got the angle of the left side of his face off which tended to elongate the right side of his face and make his right eye appear too high.  Well, that is why we keep practicing.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tina underpainting

I signed up for 5 open studio sessions at BACAA to work on a long pose painting.  Below is the under painting after 2 sessions.  Unfortunately, I'll have to miss one session and therefore only have 2 sessions left to finish the painting.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

After Rubens portrait underpainting

The old Masters often used an underpainting to lock in shapes and values.  One method is called a wipeout where you draw contours and and shadow shapes onto the canvas, then apply a thin layer of raw umber or burnt umber.  Using cloth from an old t-shirt you wipe out the lightest values first and then the other light and mid-tones.  You can add back in darks that got wiped out using a brush.  Below is a quick study I did after a portrait by Rubens.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Drawing and painting hands can be challenging but the expression of a hand can be extremely powerful.  They can say so many different things with a simple change in position.  They can show us the way, excitement, anger, frustration, openness, and when joined with another's hand love and friendship.  On the Figure Drawing and Gesture website you can find lots of pictures of hands to practice your drawing.  Here is my attempt at drawing and painting a hand that to me is expressing a point of view.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prometheus Bound

A few weeks ago I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with one of my daughters and had the pleasure of seeing Prometheus Bound, one of the most amazing works of Western Art by Peter Paul Rubens.  Last night I felt compelled to sketch Prometheus where I could really appreciate Rubens mastery of anatomy, perspective, composition, and lighting.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Anatomy of back

Continuing to practice sketching anatomy of muscles.  In this case the back and arms.  The width of the shoulders is a bit short which points out how important perspective and constantly checking measurements are.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Anatomy of lower leg

I recently purchased the Essential Muscle and Skeleton Anatomy software by 3D 4Medical to practice drawing human anatomy.  It is really easy to use by zooming and selecting different anatomical parts.  Here is a sketch of the lower leg.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bargue 38

Here is a sketch of Bargue plate 38.  It definitely helps to keep checking proportions and values. I was a little sloppy with my initial construction.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Master copy sketch

Here is a quick master copy sketch of a figure from Ruben's Martyrdom of St. Livinus.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Bargue plate

Here is another Bargue plate I did yesterday.  It forces you to first lay down the structure and proportions of a drawing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hand holding apple

I've been practicing drawing hands using a website for Figure and Gesture Drawing.  Hands communicate so many expressions.  This drawing expresses altruism through the gift of an apple but also in the way the hand presents the apple, as if the hand is saying "take this as a gift"

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Art as Consolation

I discovered a very moving painting last year titled "The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy" by master artist Graydon Parrish.  September 11 was a very tragic day in the lives of Americans and Graydon's painting helps us to cope with our loss.  He speaks very eloquently about allegory, truth, beauty, and the trans-formative power of art in a series of YouTube videos discussing this painting.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


When I was a kid I used to love watching Western movies and TV shows.  I loved the freedom, wide open spaces, good-guy / bad-guy conflicts, romance, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek humor.  Here is a portrait of a cowboy actor you won't recognize because it looks nothing like him.  The eyes ended up a bit higher on the forehead than I intended.  But the only way to learn is to keep working at it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two roses

When I was at Filoli last month I took several photos of flowers in full bloom.  I did this oil sketch of two roses focusing on values, shadings, and shapes.  After laying in the big shapes I ended up deviating from the photo to simplify and unify some of the shapes.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


In my attempt to work on portraits I found a picture of actress Taylor Schilling in Orange is the New Black on IMDB.  Here is a sketch of Taylor.  Some of the proportions are off and it doesn't really look like her however I think I captured some of the emotion from her expression of introspection and despair.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Apple and berry

Found an apple and a blackberry to practice mixing colors as I worked on this simple and small still life.  The lights on the apple and the drapery turned out a bit too chromatic.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Filoli roses drawing

Here is a drawing for a rose composition I am working on.  I plan to turn this into an oil painting based on a photo I took at Filoli.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Munsell color theory workshop

I recently completed Graydon Parrish's workshop on color theory using the Munsell notation.  Before taking this workshop mixing colors was random, inconsistent, and often ended with unintentional results.  Now I feel more confident in mixing any color I need in terms of hue, value, and chroma.  Below is a color chart we created as we learned how to match and mix colors, organize palettes, and create shading series.  Thanks Graydon and BACAA for an awesome workshop!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer portrait

A few of my artist friends got together to draw portraits and figures.  We had a lot of fun drawing from life while listening to opera.  Here is one of my drawings from these sessions.  Each time I draw from life I learn new things and find things to fix and focus on next time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recumbant nude female

I dropped in at BACAA on Tuesday to work on this figurative drawing in charcoal.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bargue plate 53 - Jeune Femme

Here is a copy of a classic Bargue plate 53 of a young woman.  This drawing was done with a charcoal pencil.  It's critical to get the proportions right in the beginning.  This makes the rest of the drawing much easier.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bargue plate 1,9

Continuing with my Bargue plate studies.  Well, here is a foot.  I showed it to my daughter and she said "that is good, it is a foot".  So I will count it as a success.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bargue Plate 39

Below is my attempt at drawing Bargue plate 39.  Charles Bargue designed a drawing course in the 19th century that guided students from plaster models to studying master drawings and then on to the live model.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Seated Female Nude 2

Tonight I attended BACAA's open figure drawing session and below is the result.  I started with an envelope around the figure then sketched some gesture lines before working out the proportions to the best of my ability. Next I worked on the contours and then moved on to the shadow shapes.  Towards the end of the session I tried to unify some of the shapes and clean up some of the lines and proportions.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Continuing my study of master painters I sketched this copy of Ingres' Oedipus and the Sphinx (without the Sphinx) to warm up for my open figure drawing session tomorrow at BACAA.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mike Myers

I've found that to be a great source to practice sketching celebrity portraits.  Here is a sketch of the comedian Mike Myers

Friday, May 23, 2014

Seated Female Nude by a Fountain

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon was truly a master artist and draughtsman of the 18th and 19th century.  As I drew this copy of Seated Female Nude by a Fountain I really gained an appreciation of his exceptional composition, line, form, and ability to render the beauty of the human figure.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Many beginner artists such as myself have a tendency to draw ears as an afterthought.  Therefore practicing drawing features like ears is crucial to good portraiture.  Here is one 20 minute practice session based on the book by William Vaughan I have been working my way through.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Break dancing

Here is a 30 minute sketch of a break dancer.  I like the angles and lines but had difficulty with the form since he was wearing black pants.


A few weeks ago I was at Filoli gardens in Woodside, California where I witnessed many beautiful flowers in their full Spring bloom including roses, irises, and camellias.  I sketched a couple of roses and then took several reference photos for future paintings.  Below is a painting I just finished along with the reference photo.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Portrait of Woman

I am working my way through a fantastic book by William Maughan titled The Artists Complete Guide to Drawing the Head.  Below is a portrait of a woman from the book.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Heather Lind

Here is an attempt at a portrait of Heather Lind based on a photo I found on imdb.  She stars in a new TV show called TURN with JJ Feild.  I have not yet seen this show but it has an interesting premise about America's first spy ring that takes place during the Revolutionary War.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014


I found a very good used book titled, The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head, by William L. Maugham.  Here are a couple of renderings of eyes from the book since the eyes are so often the focal point of a portrait.

Friday, April 18, 2014


What defines cuteness?  The subtle shape of a line, the area of focus, the concentration on shapes and values all contribute to a honest rendition of cute.  Here is one attempt at this truth.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Flowers and Form

I find that flowers present an endless variety of interesting shapes and forms.  Here is a 30 minute sketch of a rose.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Essential Skeleton

I recently discovered a free iPad app called Essential Skeleton 3.  I find this app useful to practice drawing human skeletal features from different 3d perspectives.  Another good free resource is George Bridgeman's Constructive Anatomy.  Below are a few drawings based on Essential Skeleton 3.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Ok, by far the most difficult art I have attempted is portraits in watercolor.  How does Charles Reid and others make it look so easy?  Here is attempt at painting Benedict Cumberbatch

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Principal Dancer Portrait

Here is a portrait of a principal dancer from a famous ballet company based on a black and white photo.  I won't say who it is because it probably doesn't quite look like him.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Elk Hunt

Here is a drawing of a Native American and his horse out on an elk hunt based on a photo I found in the recent issue of National Geographic.  I first drew a few gesture lines, established the correct proportions, and then looked for interesting lines and unified shapes.