Oil Portraiture – Grisaille

This semester, rather than block in values in harsh extremes, we developed a grisaille. For this we used titanium white and raw umber, thinned with oil and gamsol.

Portrait WIP 3
Portrait WIP 3

Sketching in the Wild

Started a new thing today, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. My inspiration is the legendary James Gurney. I spent my break period in the library cafe sketching a patron on her phone. About 10-15 minutes, graphite on sketch paper 5.5×8.5.

Woman on Phone
Woman on Phone

Bargue Plate 49 Transfer and Value Massing

I took the schematic off the board and taped it to a window, drawing against the glass, so I could see the drawing through the back. Taking my 2B pencil, I rubbed it over the lines, leaving a lot of graphite so it will transfer to the good paper.

Plate 49 Transfer
Plate 49 Transfer Back

Carefully align the bristol smooth paper on the board and lay the schematic over it, graphite side down. Tape it at the top like a hinge, so you can lift the schematic and check your transfer progress. Gently begin tracing over the lines, check to be sure you’re pressing hard enough to transfer the lines but soft enough that you aren’t denting the smooth sheet. When the schematic has been completely transferred to the smooth sheet, remove the top sheet. Voila, it’s time to start the drawing!

Plate 49 Transfer
Plate 49 Transfer

I’ve already begun massing in the shadow blocks again.

Plate 49 Shadow Mass WIP
Plate 49 Shadow Mass WIP

Here’s an example of this laborious process. Taking a 2B pencil, build up to the median value of the shadows. Then use a 2H to smooth it and a kneaded eraser to fix dark spots and edges. The block in the upper right was the third one I did, the ear is the ninth one. Still a long way to go until I can render them smoothly, but at least I’m seeing some progress. I included the incomplete brow shadow to show what it looks like after an initial pass with the 2B.

Shakespeare in Charcoal

Had a plein air drawing lesson with my painting instructor today in Little Falls. Got a late start due to rain, had about an hour before the actors had to hit the stage for some Shakespeare. Love the scene they fell into.

Charcoal, 14×17

Plein Air 1
Plein Air 1

Why I dislike Dropbox

I’ve used them since they were in beta for image hosting. They decided that they only want to do document sharing and not image hosting, so….all the images from my blog (and pretty much everywhere on the Internet I’ve posted for years) are now dead links.

Thanks, Dropbox. Glad I gave you years of positive word-of-mouth. Decorum dictates I edit out my actual feelings right now.

It’s such an entirely monumental task to rebuild this blog, I’m not sure I can do it. So many years of WIPs and finished stuff, going back to 2012, all done now. On the whim of an Internet company.

Tuesday Night Figure Drawing

20 minute pose, 18×24 charcoal on newsprint. I made some progress toward making the hair look better. Focusing on it as a mass, and even getting in some highlights on this one.

This model has a pretty intense shoulder girdle, there were several poses where it looked out of balance because slight movements really pushed one shoulder way up or down. Good clavicle practice, exceedingly pronounced, trying to make them look right without being too stark was a challenge.

Same model as the starkly-lit back shot from a couple weeks back.


20 minute pose, 18×24 charcoal on bristol. I was not focused at all last night, and I drew a couple tough angles (I actually had to move to get this angle) because the class is still pretty full.

In addition to my first decent foot, I also did a couple not-atrocious faces and again the hair as a volume. Still need to get my head proportions correct, but I’m pretty stoked with the leg proportions (I actually remembered to follow gesture/structure/anatomy there!).

Wednesday Night Oils

Last week’s WIP, snapped a pic while I was in the studio for figure drawing. Working the left eye and roughing in some highlights.

Tuesday Night Figure Drawing

This week’s work on Karl Gnass’ lessons at NMA REALLY paying off. I’m actually happy with my improvement here!

10 minute pose, charcoal on newsprint 18×24.


She’s only been modeling a couple months but she’s really good. I feel I captured this pose well. We had some good melancholy tunes playing and she just kind of drifted off in thought.

I was actually cool with this piece at 10 minutes, it was even more ethereal. I may go back and soften it up a bit more.

20 minute pose, charcoal on bristol 18×24.


Sketchbook Digest

So I’ve been lax in doing sketchbook updates. It’s been slower than December, but even these aren’t all the work I’ve done in the sketchbook. Lots of Steve Huston’s book moving into Loomis heads and currently working on some Gnass lessons from NMA.