Saturday, December 12, 2009

In Progress of Michele

I'm currently working on a portrait drawing of a student. I'm working on white Charcoal paper, using charcoals and graphite. This drawing is about 3/4 done. I will be working on her hair and a few spots on her face.

Hopefully I will be putting together a few demos on video. I will be sure to post them as soon as I can.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winter January 2010 Portrait Workshop

I'm posting an invitation to my Winter Portrait Workshop. I've moved into a beautiful studio in the garment district of Los Angeles and can't wait to host this workshop.

If you're interested in attending please email me at and I will send you a complete packet and hold you a spot.

Happy Drawing!!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quick Sketches

Quick Sketch

Here is a handout that separates some of the elements of the quick sketch. I originally got a simpler version of this handout from Glenn Orbik. I've added my own process to this handout and hope it helps.

-In the beginning learning construction and relevant anatomy is very important. Most students start with gestures and short poses starting form 1 minute onto 10 or 20 minutes.

-The goal of the quick sketch isn't always to get in as much information as possible, it's about slowing down and showing the viewer enough information to make the pose read - it's also a practice in simple construction, shadow shapes, use of negative shapes ....... all the fundamentals of drawing applied to the figure - to create a simple but effective statement, and hopefully a beautiful or powerful drawing.

In the handout above all the elements of the Quick Sketch are listed.

** not all of them will apply to all poses. Here is a simple breakdown of the most common approach to a 2 or 3 minute pose.

1) Head Shape
2) Angle of shoulders
3) Angle of Pelvis
4) Long line or weighted foot
5) Construction of Forms

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Working on Toned Paper - Shapes of the head

Drawing on Toned Paper

For this drawing I'm using toned paper. Strathmore Velvet Gray with Carbothello Dark Red charcoal and White Charcoal.

-When using toned paper it's an easy way of working into the half tone, rather than having to create the half tone yourself on white paper. The trick is knowing where the halftone exists and letting the paper do the work.
-The most common mistake made on toned paper is treating the drawing like it's on white paper and adding too much to the paper.
- If you choose a perfect Mid Tone for the paper then depending on your light patter you should only need to use equal parts of dark pencil and white pencil. If you choose a darker toned paper then you would need more white pencil and less of the dark pencil.

This drawing is on a perfect mid tone so I pretty much used equal parts of my pencils and let the paper come through in the half tones of her face.

Shapes of the Eye

It's very common to misread the shapes of the features of the face. For the eye it's important to build the structure on top of the whole ball of the eye, wrapping around the cup of the lower lid. There is a light shape on the inside of the lower lid that creates a 'line' under the Iris. It doesn't connect all the way under the eye, so it's easy to flatten out the eye by creating a line there. It's important to memorize the standard shape of an eye under a light and apply that knowledge to the model.

The eye is built under the brow and the lids of the eye sit at an angle. The upper lid is thicker than the lower lid and it casts a shadow onto the white of the eye. The shadow sometimes joins in with the pupil and sometimes it casts all the way onto the lower lid. There is a very specific pattern of form and cast shadows that creates what our brain reads as an eye. The good news is - the shapes are always the same, they just slightly shift from person to person.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Constructing the Head

Drawing the head was a always hit or miss situation for me. If the model happened to be 'easy' to draw then I would be able to get a decent drawing, but if the model wasn't, then, my drawing was doomed. I was completely controlled by whoever happened to sit for the pose.

Well, after years of hit or miss drawings I decided to go back to the beginning and revisit how to construct the head. I now know that there is never a reason to blame the model, only the lack of knowledge I had. Drawing the head is a multiple step process. Below is a list of the process I most often take in order of steps.

1) Circle for cranium - "V" for jaw
2) Construction lines and abstractions of the planes
3) Lay in shadow shapes
4) work edges - Form shadows vs cast shadows
5) work shadow shapes until likeness is achieved

Above are handouts for construction, abstractions, and proportions and below is a list of proportions of the head most commonly used.

1) Tear Ducts = 1/2 point of head
2) space between eyes = one eye length
3) 1/3's = hairline to brow, brow to base of nose, nose to chin.

Coming next is an example of a step by step head drawing, then we'll get into shadow shapes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Francisco Head Drawing 3

This is another example of charcoal on paper with vine. I've used a lot more vine than the other two drawings and have used a soft haired filbert brush to move the vine around to achieve the subtle edges in his hair and beard.

One of the hardest things to do on white paper is getting a nice even light half-tone. Usually the paper marks up and you're forced to go darker to cover it up. It's a good idea to try out a lot of different papers (hot pressed, cold pressed) and different paper surface textures. I mostly use very smooth papers, not too smooth that there isn't anything for the charcoal to grab onto though.

Learning to use a medium like charcoal requires one to not want to overly control it. Knowing how to construct the figure is key to not messing up while you 'paint' with charcoal.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Head Drawing Example 2

This drawing was approached in the same manner as the last post. I chose before I started to leave the background white. Because her hair is dark, the light background works well.

It's all about the value pattern and the 2 value statement. For those of you who aren't familiar with the above terms. If you squint at the drawing you will see a separation in the values that create 2 shapes. What is in light and what is in shadow. That is the 2 value statement. The stronger and the more simplified the shapes the easier it will be for a beginner to proceed.

Head Drawing Step by Step

This drawing was done with B-6B General Charcoal Pencils and Vine on standard Charcoal paper.

1) Toned paper with Vine. It's important to repeat this step until a flat tone is achieved. A chamois was used then a cotton cloth.

2) Construction Drawing. Please see Handouts above .

3) laying in of the shadow shapes and planes.

4) Modeling of the form. I used a soft paint brush and a cotton cloth to push the charcoal around. Careful not to take off too much.

5) I decided to lay in the background to add a greater sense of light on her face. I liked the abstract shapes that framed her face.