Sketch: Figures

A friend shared this two-and-a-half hour video with me (originally a live figure drawing session on Facebook at 4pm on January 5, 2018; from Friday Evening Figure Drawing by Draw This)

This inspired me to do a figure drawing session, something I haven’t done in many years. It felt like being back in art class, sitting and just practicing and getting lost in the process. It’s been a while since I had that feeling, as I’ve been trying to produce finished pieces to get a portfolio together. I don’t claim to be any good at figure drawing, but I had fun!

I did these sketches in pencil on Newsprint paper (18×24). I apologize for the quality of the photos; I really need to get a better setup for taking pictures of my art one of these days.

The session began with twenty one-minute poses. I started by sketching out the shapes of the torso and limbs. Once I had a general idea of where everything went, I traced the contours for definition and to add detail, such as the placement of muscles. I’ve always been very slow at drawing, so the whole concept of timed poses was a challenge for me. In the first session I didn’t get very far since the poses were so short. I was able to get further more easily as time went on and I got more comfortable (I couldn’t even complete the first pose), but the poses themselves also seemed to get harder and harder. Great model!

IMG_3133IMG_313420 x 1 minute poses

Next came ten two-minute poses. It was nice having more time to spend on each pose, but unfortunately that didn’t help me much with proportions. I think I had the most trouble with getting the length of the torso right.

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I had the same torso issue with three five-minute poses. I think I did the best job on the one in the center. With the five minute poses I had a chance to add some very basic shading.

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Next up were two ten-minute poses. The model held a stick, creating even more interesting poses. I wanted to try a few different things, so I concentrated on shading with the time I had left on the first pose and focused on the model’s face in the second. (The poses were separate, but I wanted to continue with the same piece of paper.)

IMG_31392 x 10 minute poses

The final pose was fifteen minutes long and the model sat in a chair (I imagine it would be quite hard to stand very still for fifteen minutes). She did move a little occasionally but not so much that I felt it affected my ability to do the drawing.

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I would have loved to have had more time to flesh out many of the poses, but so is the nature of live figure drawing. Yes, I could have paused the video, but that sort of defeats the purpose of the type of practice I was going for. All in all, I feel that I had a productive and enjoyable session and I’m looking forward to doing it again. I definitely recommend the video series, and it’s great that the video continues to be available after the official live session.

Sketch: Champagne Bottle and Glass

I wanted to challenge myself by drawing something translucent/ transparent using colored pencils. Using the same materials as last time, I started again by drawing the basic outline of the shapes.

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Before I went in to do the underpainting, I used my kneaded eraser to lift some of the graphite off the page so it wouldn’t interfere with the colored pencil. My underpainting was pretty basic—I wanted to be sure to leave all the highlights untouched (I only partially succeeded at that. I did end up needing to go in with an eraser to lighten up some areas of highlight).

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Next I used directional lines to fill in the bottle, but I wasn’t thrilled with the results.

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I began to use a circular motion with the pencils to really get into the valleys of the paper and create a smoother laydown. I’m still not one hundred percent happy with the final result but I’m getting there. I’m not sure that I like how the colored pencil lays down on the material in this sketchbook though…

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I also had to adjust the top of the bottle to make it symmetrical. This time I added one material, a Prismacolor Colorless Blender Marker, which has a larger end that covers a lot more ground than the blender pencil.

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I decided to have a little fun with the background. I like how purple looks with green but I also threw in some complementary red as well.

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All in all I am satisfied with the final drawing. However, I’m learning that I really need to slow down when it comes to colored pencils because each stroke really matters, unlike with charcoal which is easy to rework. It helps to focus on small segments, breaking the drawing down into smaller shapes instead of trying to focus on filling in the whole picture at once.

I will admit that my “goal” has always been to achieve photo-realism, but lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that if a drawing is identical to a photograph, that doesn’t leave much room for the personal style of the artist to show—how would someone know that a drawing is mine if it doesn’t contain quirks that are particular to me, how I see things, and how I translate them to the page? I am ultimately happy when I am able to realistically suggest objects, even if every line does not match with the still life or photo reference I’m using. Sometimes you might have to step back from the picture a little to capture the effect. and that’s okay. It’s a relief to put a little less pressure on myself for perfection.

Sketch: Apple

Note: I will be distinguishing in this blog between sketches and projects. Sketches are quick drawings I do in my sketchbook while finished projects are completed on sturdier single pages and focus on additional elements such as composition and background.





Artist’s Loft 9×12 sketch pad with a medium tooth

4H graphite drawing pencil

Plastic eraser

Kneaded eraser

Pencil sharpener

Drafting brush (for getting rid of eraser bits)

Prismacolor colorless blender pencil


I’m new to colored pencils (and waiting to get some Prismacolors for Christmas! Right now I am using generic brand kids’ pencils) but I wanted to try a technique I haven’t used yet called underpainting. After sketching out the outline of the apple, I used a dark brown pencil to fill in areas of shade, leaving areas of highlight untouched.

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After that, I began to fill in with the local colors of red and yellow-green.

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Because of all the layers of colored pencil applied, the underpainting doesn’t really show through. I imagine this technique might be trickier when it comes to lighter objects. I focused a lot on building up layers of color to get to the shade of red I wanted, and in doing so I was a little careless with my directional strokes, using straight lines where a curved line might have served me better. Luckily this is just a quick sketch and not a complete drawing. I read that using a dark brown and an indigo blue would create a more realistic shade of black for the shadow than the manufactured blacks, but I didn’t really find that to be the case in this instance. Perhaps with more practice I will be able to use this trick better.

I think in the future I will capture at least one more stage of my sketches/ projects in between the underpainting and the finished product to give a better idea of how the final picture came together.

Why This Blog?

I am starting this blog as a record of my journey to improve my art skills and experiment with different methods and mediums. My goal is to post pictures of my current art projects stage by stage with commentary on the techniques I used and what I learned and experienced. I also hope to provide tips and tricks that will help beginning artists as they learn to put what they see onto the page and find their artistic voice.

“Drawing through” can refer to thinking about the shape and form of an object as you draw–not just what you see but also what you don’t see. For example, when you are drawing a 3D object such as a house, you want to keep the back of the house in mind in order to create a realistic image, even though it won’t ultimately show in your drawing.

You can also “draw through” in other ways; I plan on drawing through the setbacks and difficulties that I will inevitably face in this journey.

Monk Trees WatermarkedMy favorite charcoal drawing, “Monk Trees,” 2015 (18×24). From a personal photograph.