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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Pencil Sketching, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 117
1. Book Review: The Drawing Club

Every Thursday night in Los Angeles, a group of artists gets together to draw from the model, but this is no ordinary sketch group.

Characters by Mike Swofford from The Drawing Club
Organized by Art Center teacher Bob Kato, attendees of the Drawing Club work from costumed models who are set up with props and set pieces to suggest a specific character. Themes include such classic types as "The Detective," "French Maid," "The Samurai," or "The Rock Star."

The Thursday night sessions are mostly short poses ranging from 5 minutes to a half hour, and they have long poses on Sundays.

For example, here's Steve Jacobsen modeling as The Chef.

"The Chef" by Brett Bean from The Drawing Club
And here's one of the drawings by visual development artist and character designer Brett Bean.

The Drawing Club is not a class; it's more of an open workshop. Anyone who pays the $20.00 entry fee can attend, and the regulars include a lot of master animators and character designers from Walt Disney Feature Animation or DreamWorks Animation who are looking to brush up on their drawing skills. There are also plenty of students, and a spirit of experimentation.


Bob Kato recently released a book of some of the work that has come out of the Drawing Club. The 9x9 inch softcover edition is 144 pages long, and is lavishly illustrated with examples from 66 different artists.

The text by Mr. Kato is full of encouraging tips for going beyond what you're actually observing from the live model. He suggests a variety of media: pencil, markers, brush-and-ink, watercolor, and digital.

Mr. Kato explains how each artist approaches the challenge differently depending on the kind of work they do.
"Story artists like models to do quick, daring poses because they're looking for gestural movement as it relates to storytelling. Their sense of design is heavily invested in the communication of the moment, rather than what media looks best....The character artists, on the other hand, are always looking at the model like a raw ingredient that will be turned into their own version of the character. When the model shows up in costume and starts posing, they look at the shapes made by the costume and character and get to work redesigning...to make the character funnier, scarier, happier, or sadder. They take the pieces apart—a gangster's hat, tie, overcoat, drooping cigarette, and gun—and create their own version."

Book: The Drawing Club: Master the Art of Drawing Characters from Life
Website: The Drawing Club

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2. Book Review: Sketching from Square One to Trafalgar Square


Richard Scott's new book, "Sketching - from Square One to Trafalgar Square" is a comprehensive introduction to drawing from observation.


The book presents practical advice for achieving accuracy, including measuring angles and organizing value shapes. One tip is that you can size up an appropriate cone of vision by holding your arms out at the width of your shoulders in front of you.

Scott includes a variety of excellent examples of sketch techniques, including pen and ink, marker, pencil, and wash drawing, all in black and white.


He discusses not only linear perspective, but also the simplification of a subject into tonal shapes, with fresh ideas that will appeal to painters, too. He acknowledges not only objective features of the scene, but also subjective aspects of visual perception, such as how certain edges go in and out of focus when you squint.


Scott's background is in architectural rendering, so he approaches subjects from the built environment with particular authority.

Although his approach is clear and analytical, it's not just technical. He has an artist's eye throughout. One of the inspiring qualities of the book is the focus on conveying feeling, and the emphasis on digging into why a subject appeals to you in the first place and how to play up that emotional quality.


The book lays out useful methods that anyone can use to see better, think better, and draw better. The result is a practical drawing manual that is a worthy successor of classic sketching books by Betty Edwards and Arthur Guptill, one that will improve the drawing skills of the beginner and master sketcher alike.
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Details: 192 pages, 8" x 10" (horizontal format), softcover (with covers that are a bit too thin, unfortunately). The book is organized into three parts, with 10 chapters and 419 illustrations. It is priced at $29.95.-----
Available on Amazon: Sketching - from Square One to Trafalgar Square
Official website: Sketching from Square One

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3. John Seerey-Lester

 Portrait sketch of Sir John Seerey-Lester, fellow instructor at the SKB Workshop in Dubois, Wyoming.



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4. Fast technique for rendering textures



During this "Watercolor Week," I thought I would share just two of the 5-minute demo segments (Tortoise and Zouave) from the new watercolor video "Watercolor in the Wild." If you have purchased the DVD or download, thanks!—and don't worry: I'll hold back the four remaining longer segments (Miniature Horse, Carriage House, Greenhouse, and Churchyard)—which actually translates to more than 3/4 of the running time that you can see only if you purchase the video.

Sharing these sample clips on the blog gives me a chance to amplify them with closeups, and it gives everyone an opportunity to comment and ask questions so that these blog posts can be more interactive.


For example, yesterday in the comments after the art supply list, Irene mentioned that you can get woodless watercolor pigment sticks or crayons, something I didn't discuss in the video. Thanks, Irene. As she indicated, Derwent makes Aquatone Woodless Pencils, which are like pencils made of solid pigment, and square pigment sticks called Derwent Inktense BlocksCaran d'Ache makes round water-soluble pigment sticks called Neocolor Pastels (shown above)

These are shorter than the colored pencils and a bit softer, like crayons. Lyra's have a bit more the feel of wax crayons. But they're all a good value because you get a lot of pigment for the price, and although I didn't use them on this drawing, I do use them occasionally for creating rough textures.


Whether you use the wood pencil or the crayon version of these water-soluble drawing tools, they offer three big advantages over a pure watercolor rendering.

First off, they're a fast way to get texture. I used the colored pencil dry over the first base layer of watercolor.

Secondly, as you can see in the little round scales above, you can add water later to soften or blend the pencil. That's how I made those smooth dots: just a touch of water on each. And I used the water brush to group them together into a shadow, as along the right side of the form.

The third virtue of the colored pencils is that you can draw lines with exactly the color you want. You're not limited to black or brown, as with most pen lines. In the case of the growth rings on the shell, the lines looked gray in the upper areas, and they got darker on the sides. So I switched the color of the pencils as I went down the side of the shell.


Some of you asked how I shot the video while doing the drawing. For the tortoise segment, I used one video camera and one tripod. I held the camera off to the side with a "camera extension bar" that I made out of 1/4 inch plywood. This holds the camera over my lap without getting in the way too much. I also used this for shooting the miniature horse sequence.

The camera extension bar has a wooden wedge on the side that fits the quick release slot of my tripod.

To learn more about the 72-minute video "Watercolor in the Wild":
HD download: (Credit Card) 
HD download: (Paypal) buy
DVD: (NTSC, Region 1) 

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5. Watercolor in the Wild Materials


(Link to video excerpt)

Here's a complete list of materials and a buyer's guide for plein-air watercolor painting.
This is a supplement to my instructional video "Watercolor in the Wild."


I carry these art supplies practically everywhere. The basic elements are pretty simple: a sketchbook, a paint box, a few brushes, watercolor pencils, a rag, and some water. They're all listed in detail below.


Watercolor Sketchbook
• I have often used the Moleskine Watercolor Album (5 x 8.25 inches)  I like the fact that it opens flat and I like the horizontal (landscape) format. It has 36 pages—72 if you paint on the facing pages. It has a fake leather hardbound cover, an elastic strap, and a pocket in the back. The paper is 90-pound weight, which is rather lightweight for very wet watercolors, but it's OK if you're doing mostly drawings rather than juicy paintings.

• I also recommend the Pentalic Aqua Journal (5 x 8 inch), which is priced about the same as the Moleskine but has better paper — 140 lb (300gsm) cold press, acid-free paper. With the heavier paper, it has just 24 pages. But they'll hold up to wet washes or even light impasto, such as with casein. It has generous extras, such as an elastic strap, a back pocket, an elastic brush-holding sleeve, and a placeholder ribbon.

• The Global Art Materials Watercolor Book (5-1/4 by 8-1/4 inch) is another alternative with a linen cover. The linen cover is attractive if you want to do a little acrylic or oil painting on the cover.

• The Stillman and Birn Beta Hardbound Sketchbook (5.5 x 8.5 inches) is a vertical book with 26 pages of cold press 180lb. archival paper. The paper is substantial, but it doesn't open flat easily. It can be held flat with clips. If you're thinking of working in casein, the heavier paper reduces the chance of impastos cracking.

• The Pentalic Watercolor Field Book (7 x 10 inches), is well suited those who prefer a spiral binding. It's bigger, so check to make sure it will fit in your belt pouch or purse.

To decorate the cover, I use the oil-based One-Shot Sign Painter's Lettering Enamel, which is very opaque. Paint markers also cover fairly well, but they tend to wear off faster. I usually title the sketchbook with a phrase taken from the first page of the sketchbook.



Watercolor Sets

Quality Metal Pan Sets
Rublev natural watercolor pigment basic set (12 full pans of historical colors)

Custom Sets Made from Empty Pans
You can get exactly the colors you want by buying an empty metal box and filling it with colors that you choose. When the colors run low, you can refill the pans with tube colors.

Large size empty box. In my videos, I'm using an old Talens box from the 1960s. You can get a similar large empty metal watercolor box, which holds 24 half pan colors or 12 full pans. This box opens up to 9 x 8 x 1 inches. You can combine half pans and full pans in the same box, using full pans for colors you use more often. Sometimes I put in two pans of the same color if I use them a lot.

Small size empty box (left). The smaller empty metal watercolor box opens up to about 5 x 8 inches, which fits the left side of a Moleskine or Pentalic sketchbook. This box will hold 12 half pans or six full pans.

Empty half pans. The most economical route is to buy plastic empty half pans and fill them with tube colors. The empty pans cost only 34 cents each. For students or anyone on a tight budget, you can get the 12 Tubes of Student Grade Winsor and Newton Watercolor Tubes for just $30.00. If you have dried up watercolor tubes, don't throw them out; cut them open and scrape out the tar-like pigment to fill empty half pans. Even if they're dried hard you can reactivate them with water once you cut the tube open.

Alternately, you can fill your box with factory-filled pans.

Colors--Here's a basic set of 12 half pans. These are really all you need.
Payne's grey (a bluish black)

Eight more classic colors if you have room for them.

Economical options

If you're looking for a super-compact pocket rig, or if you're a student, a first-timer, or on a budget, I recommend the Winsor and Newton pocket watercolor set with 12 colors, which you can get for around $15.00. This has a plastic box containing Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Cobalt Blue Hue, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Sap Green, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Viridian Hue, and Chinese White. That's a pretty good assortment, and the quality of the paint is OK. Note that when it says "hue," they're replacing an expensive pigment with a cheaper pigment of a similar hue.
A lot of field artists and urban sketchers love the Sakura Koy 12-Color Field Set with Water Brush, which is under $20. It includes the brush and fits in your pocket. The case is made of plastic, so you can't use magnets on it, but the lid has mixing wells, which helps if you're laying down larger washes. Two cautions: the lid doesn't open all the way flat, and when the colors are wet they can spill over into each other.

There's kind of an arms race for small sets. Some of the smallest watercolor sets are the size of a business card, and easily fit into a pocket. At left is the Pocket Palette by Expeditionary Art. The metal pans can be filled with tube colors, and they're held in place by a magnetic backing inside the case. The flip-up metal lid has a white surface for mixing colors. The downsides are: 1. The lack of mixing wells to hold wet washes, 2. The reflective metal, which can be blinding on bright days, and 3. The overlapping flange on the left side that covers part of the pans.

At lower right is a 30-year-old Winsor and Newton "Bijou Box," which they no longer make. It has an enameled steel case with 18 colors and a tiny travel brush. The pans are tiny, and I think there are more colors than necessary. I'd rather see 6 or 8 for a box this size. The lid has four mixing wells, which is a big plus. If you can find one of these used for a good price, grab it, but a comparable super-mini set that you can get in USA is the Winsor and Newton Cotman Water Color Mini, or you can make your own equivalent of the Bijou with an old Altoid tin, some spray enamel paint, and some extra half pans.

The brushes shown above are the Niji Short Handled Water Brush, a small travel brush, and a sawed off brush. The book is the Moleskine Pocket Watercolor Book, 3½" × 5½" (9 × 14cm)

For more on these micro kits, check out my YouTube video "Ultra Compact Watercolor Kits," part of the "Watercolor in the Wild: Bonus Features" video.



Water Cup and Rags
I use a Nalgene 2-Ounce Jar with three 1/4 x 1/16 inch Neodymium Magnets, held on with Magic Sculpt Epoxy Clay. You could also use a generic epoxy plumber's putty instead of the Magic Sculpt. The magnets are powerful, so keep them away from your credit card and phone.

I keep a second jar with clear water handy, and often just a regular drinking water bottle, and I use an old plastic "Tupperware" basin or yogurt cup for a brush cleaning bucket when I'm painting with the tripod easel.

I cut up old cotton T-shirts for paint rags, or use paper restaurant napkins or paper towels.



Brushes
Here's a good inexpensive starter set of brushes: Richeson Sable Hair Watercolor Brush Set/5

I like sable flat brushes, such as:
1/2-Inch Sable Brush
3/4-Inch Sable Brush

I also use a 1/4-Inch Synthetic Watercolor Flat Brush, which work well for architectural detail.

For laying bigger washes and wetting the paper, a Cat's Tongue Wash Brush is a good tool. It has a flattened ferrule similar to a filbert brush.

Round Kolinsky sables (note: some brands may become discontinued in the U.S. as the Kolinsky ban exhausts stock on hand):
Winsor and Newton Series 7 
Richeson Siberian Kolinsky brushes
Escoda Optimo Kolinsky
Da Vinci Maestro Series Kolinsky Red 

If you have a very compact kit and can't carry a box of brushes, you might want to use a Sable Round Travel Brush, which safely stows the brush tip inside the handle.



Water Brushes
I always try to carry four Niji Water Brushes with large round tips. They're the best brand I've found, and stand up to a lot of hard use. For info about filling them with ink, please scroll farther down this post.

I also carry a tube of white gouache, such as Holbein Permanent White GouacheWinsor and Newton is also good. Sometimes I bring a whole set of gouache colors to supplement the transparent watercolors, but gouache will be the topic of future posts.

Plastic clamps
Here's a 2-Inch Plastic Clamp and a 3.75-inch Clamp. Of all the clips and clamps that I've tried, these seem to be the most versatile for holding the book open or clipping the watercolor box to the easel.

Sharpener
I use a Kum Pencil Sharpener, which not only catches the shavings, but also has a little flap that covers the hole, so the shavings don't leak out and pollute the pages of the sketchbook. 

Eraser
I carry two erasers, a Kneaded Eraser and a White Latex-Free Eraser.

Water-Soluble Colored Pencils
These add a lot of options and variations to traditional watercolors. I recommend trying a few test pencils from several different brands to see which ones you like. My favorite brand is Caran D'ache Supracolor, but I also like Derwent Inktense Pencils for rich, saturated colors.

I started with a Caran d'Ache Supracolor Set of 18. Over the years I have added and subtracted individual colors from the standard set. Below are the colors I take with me most often. It emphasizes warm colors that I like for portraits and animal drawing.

Caran d'Ache Supracolor watercolor pencils
#001 White

I also often use a Graphite Drawing Pencil(HB, B, or 2B) for the initial drawing.


Pencil Box
The pencil box I use was customized by armorer Tony Swatton. It began as a metal box I bought at a Japanese bookstore called Kinokuniya in Los Angeles. (I painted the Apple logo as a gag.)

Tony then added the hammered brass piece with rivets and I aged it with paint.



Waist Pack / Fanny Pouch / Belt Bag
I use a Black Diamond Spring '03 Waist Bag (Unfortunately it's 11 years old and discontinued, so the photo is for comparison.)
[The Explorers] Multi-Purposes Fanny Pack looks pretty similar. I recommend that you buy the pack at an outdoor store after you select the contents to make sure everything fits. A quiet zipper and minimal Velcro is a consideration if you plan to sketch in quiet places where you don't want to attract attention.

Tripod
I use a Velbon CX-444 Tripod because it's lightweight, folds small, and reaches up to a reasonable standing height when fully extended.

Three legged stool
Tripod Stool is something I carry in the car or in a backpack when I plan to sit. Sometimes I bring an extra to use as a field taboret for art gear.

Sketchbook Pochade 
The simplest sketchbook holder is a piece of 1/4 inch or 5/16 inch thick plywood cut to the dimensions of the sketchbook opened up flat. I call it a "sketchbook pochade." I drill a hole in the back of the panel and insert a 1/4-20 Tee Nut which will attach to the tripod and securely hold the plywood. The sketchbook attaches to the plywood base with rubber bands or plastic clamps.


Homemade Easel
I made this device, which I call a Sketchbook Pochade Easel to hold the paint set, the water, and the sketchbook. I also use this for gouache and casein. The diffuser frame attaches to the top, and it uses White Rip-Stop Nylon Fabric that I sewed onto an old aluminum Pendaflex file folder frame, a holdover from the dinosaur era.

Here's a clearer shot of the sketchbook pochade. It attaches to the tripod (I use a Velbon CX-444 Tripod) with a Tee Nut, and uses a Southco SC-773 Adjustable Torque Hinge and a furniture slider to hold the parts at the proper angle. The "camera bar" for holding the video camera swings out from the front, held at a constant position by a piece of brass furniture hardware called a Friction Lid Support.

The palette area is made from the lid from a pencil box, primed and then spray-painted with white enamel, and held on with Velcro. That way it can be removed for cleaning, especially when I use it for casein or gouache.




Refilling Water Brushes and Fountain Pens


Water Brushes 
I've tried several brands, but none seem as reliable as Niji Water Brushes. I recommend the ones with round tips, but you can also get them with a 12mm Flat Tip. I normally carry between three and five water brushes. One is filled with water, which fills easily under a normal faucet by unscrewing the handle and squeezing the barrel.

The others are filled with blue, black, brown, and gray. I mix the gray myself, put it in an empty bottle, and mark the bottle. To identify which water brush is which, I paint the back end tips with acrylic (see lower left of photo above).

Ink
The ink in a brush pen should be water-soluble so that it doesn't clog the brush fibers. I use Higgins Eternal Ink 0 Comments on Watercolor in the Wild Materials as of 8/11/2014 10:58:00 PM
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6. Sketching Bohème


Last night we saw Puccini's La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera. We had the privilege of sitting in the front row, with an unobstructed view into the orchestra pit. I sketched bass clarinetist James Ognibene mainly during the scene changes and intermission.

During the show itself there was so much to look at in Zeffirelli's magnificent staging that I couldn't tear my eyes away from the sets, with the cast of 240 extras, plus a donkey and a horse, in the streets of Paris during Act 2. Plus it was too dark on my sketchbook page to see much of what I was doing. 
\
But during Act 3 there was enough spill light from the stage to jot down quick silhouettes of Mimi, as performed by Romanian soprano Anita Hartig. 

The portrait of the cellist at the lower right was sketched in extremely dim light, so that I couldn't make out any details. I could only state basic planes of light and shadow, using water-soluble colored pencils and two water brushes, one filled with water, and the other with fountain pen ink.

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7. Frank Eats a Cantaloupe

Here's a page from my pencil sketchbook. It's a candid moment drawn from life, as my nine-year-old son Frank ate a cantaloupe.

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8. Farm Kitchen

Here's a sketchbook study of the kitchen at my friend's farm, drawn in graphite pencil with gray wash. They told me over coffee that they're expecting their first lambs of the season in two weeks.

11 Comments on Farm Kitchen, last added: 4/11/2013
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9. Opera Sketch Report

Last night we attended the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Rossini's little-known comic opera Le Comte Ory.



The seats were orchestra center, third row back, a generous gift of a friend who couldn't use them that night. We could see every flick of the eyebrow of the singers.


We arrived a little early and I sketched the patrons chatting. I used a black Caran D'Ache colored pencil in a Moleskine pocket sketchbook.


Even though the story takes place during the Crusades, Bartlett Sher's production conceives the action as an opera within an opera, set loosely in Rossini's time. Catherine Zuber's eclectic costumes mix medieval headdresses with hip panniers of the eighteenth century. 

During the break between acts I sketched people in the lobby. One gentleman reviewed the playbill, his glasses hanging down below his nose, while others sipped champagne. When Liszt conducted the opera, he said it "bubbled like champagne," and distributed bottles of champagne to the audience, a perfect gesture for this effervescent opera.

Adèle was played by 27-year-old South African soprano Pretty Yende, whose Met debut was last week in this opera. These drawings, all made during the show, are about two inches high. The house lights were so dim that I could barely see what I was doing, so I was working by kinesthetic memory, and concentrating on big shapes.

In the story, the amorous Count Ory, played by Juan Diego Flórez, adopts a variety of disguises to woo ladies whose husbands have gone off crusading. In the second act he and his men gain access to the castle by pretending to be female pilgrims lost in a storm. 

 
On the way home, the subway was jammed as tight as I've ever seen it. Everyone was bundled for the icy wind.

It has been the coldest week in New York in 17 years, but Rossini had us warmed up from the inside out.
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Review in New York Times
The sketchbook was a gift from my pals over at White Cloud Worlds/WETA in New Zealand.

11 Comments on Opera Sketch Report, last added: 1/27/2013
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10. In the Train Station

This guy was so busy with his iPad that he didn't notice me sketching him.
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Drawn in a Moleskine notebook using a black watercolor pencil and two water brushes, one filled with water, and the other with ink. I switch back and forth between all three of those tools throughout the drawing.

7 Comments on In the Train Station, last added: 1/21/2013
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11. Video Guy

At an Irish concert, I sketched the video guy. Man vs. Tech.

15 Comments on Video Guy, last added: 12/22/2012
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12. Handel's Messiah

Last night I enjoyed a full performance of Handel's Messiah at the Vassar College Chapel in Poughkeepsie, New York.


I sat up front, right near the cellist David Bakamjian, who was playing an instrument from 1780. I sketched the central group of performers with the pipe organ in the background, using a water-soluble graphite pencil.
The singers of the Cappella Festiva and the Vassar College Choir really threw their heart into it, and together with the fine playing by the professional baroque orchestra (complete with trumpets from the period) the effect was triumphant and glorious. With three hours of concert time, there was lots of time to sketch.

10 Comments on Handel's Messiah, last added: 12/10/2012
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13. Lime Rock Races


(Direct link to video) I made this little video about a sketching trip to the car races yesterday at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.

Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty closed out the Grand-Am road racing championship with a 2 3/4 hour sprint in their Gainsco Corvette, which I sketched on location in watercolor and colored pencil.


Here's the view we had of the track, painted in watercolor. The skid marks in the foreground were from incidents in the qualifying rounds, but the two yellow flag incidents that started the race happened right in front of us.

Alex led the race for a while near the end, so I painted his car out front. He finished in third place, the third straight podium finish for the team.


Before the race we enjoyed hanging out with Grand Marshall Sam Posey, a celebrated race driver, TV commentator, architect and artist.

Report on the race on the Gainsco site
Wikipedia on Sam Posey
Previously on GJ
Last year's race with Alex Gurney
The Delta Wing

2 Comments on Lime Rock Races, last added: 10/2/2012
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14. Demo Portrait of Fernando Freitas

On Monday I shared a lecture and demo to a full house at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto. 



(Video link) The model for the demo was Mr. Fernando Freitas, co-founder of the Academy. Since I only had 25 minutes to do the drawing, I used the same technique that I like to use for sketching people "in the wild" in restaurants, subways, or concert halls.


Materials: Caran D'Ache watercolor pencils and a Niji Waterbrush on a smooth Fabriano Watercolor Pads.
---------
Check out my other videos or subscribe to the GurneyJourney YouTube channel so you can see new videos before anyone else.

Thanks to Fernando, and to everyone who came to the talk at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto, especially the folks who came all the way from Ottawa. And thanks, Lenny Dass, for shooting the video.

Previously on GurneyJourney: First visit to ARA in April 2009

8 Comments on Demo Portrait of Fernando Freitas, last added: 8/3/2012
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15. Bata Shoe Museum


The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto explores just one theme: footwear. 

The exhibits take up four floors of the museum, with displays showing the history and cultural variation of shoes, sandals, slippers, boots, and even snowshoes. 

Two strengths of the displayed collection are the footwear of Native Americans and fashion shoes from 1920-1950. 

The Native American room has moveable benches, but sketchers might want to bring their own stools for the other rooms.

I drew the sketches with: Caran D'Ache watercolor pencils and a Niji Waterbrush in a Moleskine Watercolor Notebook.
 
If you go, here's a tip: Pick up a "second person free" coupon, which appears in the tourist booklets.

11 Comments on Bata Shoe Museum, last added: 8/2/2012
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16. Classic Art Instruction: The Crowd-sourced List


A week or two ago, I shared a list of my favorite classic art instruction books from Dover Publishing.


In the comments, I invited you to suggest the classic art instruction books (more than 50 years old) that you thought was particularly helpful.

Here's the list you suggested below. The links take you to Amazon pages where you can read more about each title.

On the left is a poll. Please vote for your favorite books. You can vote for more than one.

An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists by W. Ellenberger et al. 

Animation by Preston Blair  

Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Peck 

Bridgman’s Life Drawing by George Bridgman 

Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting by John F. Carlson 

Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne

Constructive Anatomy by George Bridgman  

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17. On the Train

Wouldn't you be nervous if you were riding on the train, minding your own business, and some guy in a Mobil shirt kept staring at you and scrawling something in his book?


I think I made this guy a little uneasy. But he was cool. He sat there with the light streaming in through the window. I drew in a rough outline and then used the watercolor set to establish the big shapes.


He put on his sunglasses. I used my water-soluble colored pencils to draw his tattoos.

I broke the ice when I showed him the sketch. He loved it. Then he showed the amazing tattoos on his arms, which honor his mom and dad. I showed him some of my farm sketches.

It turns out that he is a farmer. I asked him what kinds of animals he's got. "You name 'em, I've got 'em."  By the end of the train ride, he gave me his card, and invited me to come over and sketch his peacocks and emus.

16 Comments on On the Train, last added: 7/5/2012
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18. Violinist

Here's a sketch I did last night at a concert of the Bard College Orchestra. I was sitting about four rows back. 

Since some of you have asked about materials, here's the lowdown: I was using a black watercolor pencil and three waterbrushes. One was filled with Higgins Eternal ink, another had plain water, and a third contained blue-black fountain pen ink. The sketchbook was a Moleskine watercolor notebook.

Previous concert sketches on GJ:
Horn Player
Mirko Listening
Club Passim Gig
Concert Sketching
Shapewelding Sketching 
The Cello and the Pencil

11 Comments on Violinist, last added: 5/11/2012
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19. Couple at Diner

Yesterday, Bryan asked if I approach people to sit for an on-location sketch, and if I show them my sketchbook. 

Here's a recent example of one where I didn't ask, they didn't notice, and I never showed them. They were pretty far away across the restaurant. He was bent over his cellphone and she was talking to him, waving her wrist around in big circles as she made her points. Once in a while he would grunt a syllable in response, but he never looked up from the phone until his scrambled eggs arrived.

What I was thinking about as I was drawing was not just the contrast of poses and shapes and colors. I was also interested in trying to convey the relationship between the people, as it appeared to me from their body language.
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Previously: Caught Looking
Dead Air Syndrome

9 Comments on Couple at Diner, last added: 2/27/2012
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20. Zugel Dog Drawing

Even if you let a sleeping dog lie, you’re lucky if you get 15 minutes on one pose before it shifts to another.

That makes Heinrich von Zugel’s pencil study is especially impressive. Note the planar breakdown of form in the shoulder, which almost looks like a cube. His form analysis is based on a deep knowledge of anatomy, as he was a professor of animal painting at the academy in Munich.
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Teachers: You might still be able to sign up for the educator's workshop that I'll be giving this Saturday at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin from 10-11:30 AM. The event is part of the Dinotopia exhibition, which will be going on through April 7. 

2 Comments on Zugel Dog Drawing, last added: 3/3/2012
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21. TSA Area

If you're stuck in an airport for a while, and you have a sketchbook with you, a great place to sit is near the security screening area.

People get into all sorts of interesting poses as they're putting themselves back together.

Traveler's Tip: In Chicago O'Hare airport, you can sit at the entrance to the E/F gates of Terminal 2. There's a Starbucks perfectly positioned with cafe tables that have a good view in that direction.

11 Comments on TSA Area, last added: 3/15/2012
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22. Art Books

I remember when I used to comb through new and used art bookstores looking for anything I could find on 19th century painters or Golden Age illustrators.

Here's a sketch from about 1985 of my wife Jeanette reading to me from a book on John William Waterhouse.

Before computers and the internet, finding a good art book was like uncovering a vein of gold. In those days, you couldn't find much on Bouguereau, Meissonier, Gerome, or Waterhouse. Sargent was just beginning to come into the light. It seemed worth spending $50 for a book, even if it had only two or three good color reproductions. I would stick yellow tags on the best pages, with the name of the artist written in small letters so I could find them again.

The casual availability of images now is both a blessing and a curse. It makes me treasure each image a little less, perhaps because I haven't spent so much effort on the hunt. Still, I'm grateful to be able to find so many digital images in cyberspace. But I have faith that there's much more to be discovered. The internet may be a million miles wide, but it's only an inch deep when it comes to some artists who have yet to arrive from obscurity.

15 Comments on Art Books, last added: 3/26/2012
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23. Diner Soundtrack

Sometimes in a crowded restaurant or movie theater, I like to defocus my brain and try to listen to all the conversations going on around me at once.


Usually I can't distinguish more than phrases, snapshots. In this case, I sketched one group at one table, but the snippets of dialogue came from other people all around me.

Jotting down actual dialogue is good practice for writers, and it's a good way to get a sense of the zeitgeist.

10 Comments on Diner Soundtrack, last added: 3/30/2012
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24. Menzel's Brother

I find this combination of drawings immensely moving and inspiring.


Adolph von Menzel drew his brother Richard in 1848. One of his hands lies flat on a table, the other is closed, with his face resting against it. He has just combed his hair. His eyes are far away in thought. He is patient with his brother's request to hold still for a little while. Richard would have been accustomed to his brother drawing all the time.


Here is Richard again in 1860. He sits sideways on a chair, facing away, with his neck tie sticking out on one side and his hair on the other. He has grown a big mustache and the hair on top is thinner. His cheek seems a bit hollow.

 The third drawing shows Richard on his deathbed in 1865, just five years later. His hair is mostly gone now, his features are sharper, and there is a heavy growth of beard. His eyes are closed and sunken in death. The lines describing the white fringe of cloth move like a seismograph. 

Adolph lived for another forty years after Richard's death. He made these drawings only for himself -- no one saw his portfolios of thousands of drawings until after his own passing.


6 Comments on Menzel's Brother, last added: 4/23/2012
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25. Beware the Bog Men

Along the shores of the Hudson River, the railroad line isolates muddy coves. That's where the bog people live.



At high tide they look like the roots of trees washed down by floods. But as the tide goes down and the sun goes down you can see their glistening eyes watching you. 

Plein-air painters working unaware along the shore sometimes feel a tendril wrap around their ankles. So when I sketched this guy, I kept my escape route always in view. 

12 Comments on Beware the Bog Men, last added: 5/8/2012
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