Life Drawing Studio and Portrait Sketches

Sketching people drawing the model during a "boring" pose

Sketching people drawing the model during a “boring” pose

I love my Friday figure drawing studio and our wonderful models. In the morning I draw the figure during the shorter poses and then switch to a portrait for the final hour-long pose after lunch. In the sketch above I decided to draw the crowded room and other artists instead of the model since I had an obstructed view of what struck me as a boring pose.

Fallon, charcoal on toned paper, life-size.

Fallon, charcoal on toned paper, life-size.

Fallon is one of my favorite models. She is so beautiful and strong, with unique features and she always brings interesting costumes and music to play for us.

Brian, charcoal on toned paper, life size

Brian, charcoal on toned paper, life size

Brian is very unusual looking, tall, muscular and lean, with prominent facial bone structure and a small, pouty (not potty!) mouth. I think I went too far with the dark charcoal as there’s too much contrast with the lighter areas but I think I did get a likeness, despite the clumsy shading and unfinished hair.

20160226_Life_007

Brigitte, charcoal and conté on tan paper, life-size.

I thought the drawing above was going great until I saw it on my camera’s screen as a mirror image and it looked all wrong. I tried to fix it, but couldn’t figure out what the problem was. She looks so sour and grumpy and really was just a little sleepy from the long pose.

Gettin’ Sketchy with Portrait Practice

I’ve had so much fun since I discovered the SKTCHY app. It’s so simple: people upload photos and artists use them as inspiration to draw from and then upload snapshots of their artwork. (click on collection below twice to enlarge.)

20160217-PicMonkey_Collage-small

Collage of recent sketches and their Sktchy.com inspiration photos

Above are my sketches and their Sktchy reference photos from the past week in a collage (made using free PicMonkey online). The Sktchy app is super easy to use, with an incredibly wide variety of people to draw and really interesting artists’ work to be inspired by. Join me there! It’s big fun!!! (FYI, it’s currently only available for iPhone/iPad; Android version is in the works).

Click on any of my sketches below to see larger or in a slide show. They are all in a 12×9″ sketchbook.

Happy Solstice! Bouquet for Busby

Bouquet for Busby, ink and watercolor, 11x8.5 inches

Bouquet for Busby, ink and watercolor, 11×8.5 inches

On this shortest day of the year here are some cheery flowers to brighten the darkness.

While I was away visiting my mom last weekend, my cat-sitter Rachel (of McGraw’s Paws) cat-sat for the first time since Busby my tabby cat died. She was sad not seeing him too and left me this stunning bouquet of flowers in his honor and a lovely card with these wise and beautiful words about sorrow that are worth remembering for any loss:

‘When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

~Kahlil Gibran

Mika, Formosan Mountain Dog Portrait

Mika, a Formosan Mountain Dog portrait in oil paint on linen panel,, 10x8 in

Mika, a Formosan Mountain Dog portrait in oil paint on linen panel,, 10×8 in

This little cutie was a fun challenge to paint. Below are some steps along the way, including the reference photos that I joined and edited in Photoshop to simplify the background and combine the tops and bottoms of her ears. Her ears were too tall in my first sketch (done in gouache in my journal). I must have added extra length when I assembled the two photos in Photoshop so edited them down to life-size in the painting.

Mika’s owner was happy with the painting and noted that Mika, who is a playful goofball in real life, seems so dignified in the painting. That gave me the idea to ask owners to also provide videos of dogs I’m to paint in the future so I can get a better sense of their personalities. I tried to include some of the family’s garden in Mika’s portrait but I struggled with getting the spring flowers to behave in the background. I painted over them with sky, planning to try them again, but when I sent Mika’s owner a photo of the painting with the sky background, she liked it better that way and so did I.

Crockett’s Funky Main Street

Crockett Main Street, ink and watercolor, 10x8 in

Crockett Main Street, ink and watercolor, 10×8 in

Inspired by a wonderful urban plein air painting workshop and demo by one of my favorite artists, Randy Sexton, I sketched the main street in the funky little town of Crockett that houses his studio, Epperson Gallery and a tattoo parlor. Randy is one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever met, as well as a highly skilled and talented painter, and a gifted teacher.

Crockett is home to many oddball characters and funky old bars and shops. When I said I’d love to paint portraits of some of the local denizens he said he’d been doing just that, starting from when a professional model didn’t show up for a figure painting session. He and his fellow artists just popped in to one of the neighborhood dive bars and recruited a regular to come pose for cash and beer.

Busby’s Orchid in Sadie’s Footprint Pot

Orchid for Busby in Sadie Footprint Pot, graphite and watercolor, 11x7 in

Orchid for Busby in Sadie Footprint Pot, graphite and watercolor, 11×7 in

For Mothers’ Day my daughter-in-law Brittney gave me this adorable flower-pot that she and her mom decorated with my grandbaby Sadie’s footprints (dipped in paint) as the wings of a butterfly. Then last week a florist delivered a beautiful double orchid plant to me from my veterinarian in memory of my kitty Busby who, sadly, had died the previous week.

The orchids were a perfect match for the Mothers’ Day pot and combining the two helped ease my mind and lift my spirits. I see the orchid and feel sad for Busby and then see the pot and feel happy about little Sadie. It was fun and challenging to draw while trying to keep track of which flower and bud were which.

Leo Take Two: Same Dog, Revised Painting

Leo, Dog Portrait, Take Two, oil on panel, 8x10

Leo, Dog Portrait, Take Two, oil on panel, 8×10

After I varnished Leo’s painting and was going to deliver it to the family that commissioned it, I realized I wasn’t satisfied with the background. I asked for and was granted permission to adjust it. It’s a good thing Leo’s people are very patient: I asked for an extra two weeks but then my dog Millie started having epileptic grand mal seizures and my cat Busby got sick and I was spending more of my time nursing animals than painting them.

Finally, after many visits to the emergency vet hospital, my family vet, and a veterinary neurologist (thank goodness for pet insurance) Millie has stabilized on her meds (no seizures in over a week), and Busby has sadly has passed on to Kitty Heaven. He was a beautiful cat and my remaining kitty Fiona misses him, even though he was a bit of a bully, like big brothers can sometimes be.

Back in the studio I explored how to rework the background. What bothered me was the way the it divided the painting in half vertically and how vague it was. With my realistic approach to the dog, it felt like the background needed more detail so I tried to suggest some of the actual greenery in Leo’s Northern California backyard (see photo below) and added some sky to add depth.

Below, copied from the previous post, are the reference photo and the work in progress before I got to the finished painting above.

%d bloggers like this: