Second Look

March 10, 2013 § 28 Comments


The students have finished their second graphite study of the semester. To encourage them along and sharpen my own skills I set up a study of my own to work on in my office. It has been helpful to be working on one at the same time as the students because certain things will come to my mind while I am working that otherwise I might not have thought of to share with them. It also shows them that I believe in the benefit of the exercise.

We start with six quick compositional thumbnails to decide on the layout before diving right in to the drawing itself. Even if the arrangement of objects doesn’t change from one compositional thumbnail to the other, there are many other factors such as their size within the frame, their horizontal or vertical orientation within the frame, and also the choice of frame itself. I encourage the students to try a square, a vertical rectangle, and a horizontal rectangle. Some students also try breaking through the rectangle and creating their own custom format.



Contrasting Textures : Fabric Value Study

February 5, 2013 § 31 Comments


The Drawing II students are finishing up their second value study. It’s quite exciting to see their progress from the first to the second. As Juliette Aristides writes in her book, Lessons in Classical Drawing, “Each hard-won drawing allows you to bring a new skill to your next one.”

The studies are definitely an investment of time. 20 hours is a long time for a millennial with things to do and people to text. So why do value studies? I gave myself the task of coming up with as many reasons as I could think of. I’ll begin to list a few of the reasons here:

Learn to see

Nourish confidence

Increase awareness

Train to become a highly sensitized observer

Develop fascination with the mysteries of things to be found and seen

Practice intentionality

Pursue an understanding of light and discernment of value

Create the illusion of volume and space

Develop sustained focus

Intense concentration

Build a habit of keeping eyes wide open

Spend enough time observing to get past superficiality

Begin to see possibilities for metaphor/interpretation of visual experience

Give time for your eyes to acclimate

Cultivate a love for subtlety

Explore surface topography-heighten the sense of touch in your work

Practice your scales in order to have freedom and mastery in a lifetime of expression

Gain ownership of materials

Capture the uniqueness of your subject

Enrich your sight/life


Can you think of some others?

Super Semester

May 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

As promised, here are a couple examples of the final projects in Drawing II. This was the first time for most students working at this scale (30×44″) and with this medium (charcoal). However, not all was new. The students were pulling from their experience of two types of drawing studies that we had emphasized this semester. One was very slow careful observation and the other was very fast gesture where you draw what your subject is doing rather than what it looks like. The requirements for the assignment were to draw a natural object at least 8 times using variations of speed,  line, scale, direction, etc…

Just before starting our final project we spent one week drawing outside the classroom.

Thanks to Hidden Hills Farm for letting us come and draw on their lovely grounds.

We also  set up in front of the Student Center to draw free 10 minute portraits!

 Thanks students for the best semester yet!

Still Life As Story

February 29, 2012 § 24 Comments

“Not another still life!” is oft heard or at least thought during formal art training. In the 2nd still life assignment in Drawing II, we covered why working from the still life is so helpful. For example your subject matter doesn’t walk away, you can work on perspective, explore how to depict different types of textures, and control the light source. In addition to all of these technical reasons why still life is so important, we also talked about how objects reflect the age and society in which they were formed and contain story telling potential. Each student started with objects that they already had strong associations with and then used lighting, and layout to help tell their story.

Students will be posting links in the comments section with their drawings.

Mixing Grays

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

In painting class this year we are using Painting as a Language as a class text. Despite its priciness, it is a fabulous book that rounds out the discussion of how paintings are made with how paintings mean. It is also filled with interesting journaling and painting exercises. The exercise you see here is a student’s study of creating first a column of grays using ivory black and titanium white on the left and then a column of grays using the complements ultramarine blue and cadmium orange. The student had to mix just to neutralize the gray without veering too much toward one hue or the other. Then they added white to create the lighter values.

This particular combination of complementary colors seemed to work really well at achieving neutral grays. They are ever so slightly cooler than the titanium white and ivory black grays. Other combinations such as viridian and alizarin crimson also worked. It was interesting to see the subtle differences between the chromatic and achromatic grays.

The complementary colors of purple and yellow were not as easy to mix into gray. Does anyone have any pairs of purple and yellow pigments that they mix for grays?

Drawing II Still Life No. 1

February 6, 2012 § 26 Comments

Last semester in Drawing I we finished off the semester with a value study of blocks. The subject matter was simple in order to go into a very thorough study of values. Here is an example of a student’s final project.


This semester in Drawing II we are continuing from where we left off, with very careful observation and comparisons of values, but this time with subject matter of the students’ own choosing. New challenges that surface are working with more complex shapes and textures and translating colored objects into a grayscale value. In the comments section students will be posting links to their assignments.

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