Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Asian Woman - Pastel Sketch

Here's a pastel portrait sketch to add some color to the grey wintry weather we're having here today. This was drawn in the weekly drawing session a few years ago. It's on 12" x 9" gray coated pastel paper and was made with a combination of pastels and pastel pencils. 

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Monday, January 20, 2014


From a 9" x 12" Sketchbook. Pencil on Paper.
The long poses at the drawing sessions I've attended last for two and a half hours or so, broken up into twenty minute segments with ten minute breaks in between (for both model and artists). Before the long pose began, though, there were three five-minute sessions just for quick gesture studies. These studies generally weren't for detail or careful shading, but to capture the shape and attitude of the figure or face. The pencil sketches shown above are an example of how I used the quick gesture sketch time.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Friday, January 10, 2014


12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
Haven't done a lot of portrait sketching in the last month. The weekly drawing session had to move on from our last location and we're still trying to find a new home. In the mean time I still feel a need to practice portraits, and without the opportunities provided by a weekly drawing session, had to call on the slightly annoyed looking fellow pictured above to model for me. He's not my favorite model, and I could get tired of drawing him too often, but he's fairly patient and models for free. He probably wouldn't do this for anybody else. He is me.

This was drawn from life using the big mirror over the vanity in my bathroom. The single, frontal overhead lighting (which was also bouncing off of the mirror) was different from what I'm used to sketching, and was interesting to do. I dragged a small portable easel into the bathroom and  laid out my drawing supplies on the vanity counter top. The page in my sketchbook was toned with compressed charcoal rubbed lightly and evenly over the entire sheet of paper. A soft charcoal pencil was used for the darks and a kneaded eraser was used to pull out the light areas by lifting out the charcoal tone. A "charcoal white" pencil was used only for highlights. The sketch took four hours. Did I tell you he was patient?

Since this was sketched looking in a mirror, the image is incorrect in that it's reversed, so I must really look like this:

Does that look different? 

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sketching Landscapes

5" x 8" Graphite Pencil on Paper
New Years Day I went for a walk up a local canyon. It wasn't a long walk. In fact much of my time was spent just standing still, enjoying the sights and sounds of the outdoors. A scattered herd of mule deer browsed the thin winter grass on the mountain slope across the wash from me. A couple of the mulies stayed bedded down, soaking up the low winter sunlight. A flock of chickadees passed by, working the twigs and branches of the scrub oak I stood by. Flocks of chickadees as they travel through the winter woods often intersect with my path. The energetic little birds seem deliberate about it, and I always enjoy their brief visits. Continuing my winter walk I came across a flock of juncos, and a little later a bunch of robins. The robins I'm familiar with back east migrate south for the winter. Here in the Wasatch, they seem happy to spend winter with what the wild hawthorn provides for them. These walks in the wild benefit me tremendously. I make it a point to go for a walk every New Years Day. And of course, I sketch.

12" x 9" Ink on Paper
The sketches shown in this post are all, more or less, from a while back. They're just a tiny portion of the huge number of landscape sketches I've made over the years. Landscape sketching has been indispensable in preparing me for plein air painting. Even the sketches I've made solely for the joy of sketching in the wild contribute indirectly to the plein air oil paintings I make.

8" x 5" Pencil on Paper
The first sketch in this blog post dates back to when I lived in Pennsylvania. It was drawn one wintry day from the edge of a hill overlooking the Allegheny River at Oil City. The second sketch shown in this post was made on my first backpacking trip into the Wasatch Mountains during a visit from back east. The sketch shown immediately above was made during a backpacking trip in Southern Utah during another visit from PA.

My art box in the early '90s was big but got poor gas mileage.
The next few sketches were made after I moved out West. The sketch of a jumble of boulders was made during an overnighter in the San Rafael Desert.

9" x 12" Pencil on Paper
Sketching in black and white (or monochromatic) is important. I still usually sketch with graphite or charcoal pencil in my sketchbooks. But pastels have allowed me to explore color in the landscape, and helped prepare me to use color in oil painting. The scene shown below is a view westward, across a marsh towards the Basin and Range mountains.

11" x 14" Pastel on Paper
The last sketch in this post would be difficult to do again. Most of the flat area shown in the sketch has been developed since then, and both commercial and residential buildings now block the view.

11" x 14" Pastel on Paper
It's really easy to pack along some sketching gear wherever you go. There's always a sketchbook in whichever of my day packs I take with me into the outdoors. The combination of sketchbook, pencils, kneaded eraser, and small can of fixative I take with me easily fits in a plastic bag, which provides protection from any inclement weather that may happen on a walk. Color sketching supplies can be made compact for easier carrying, too.

I think I'll have a future blog post about sketching supplies.