Thursday, April 17, 2014


No matter at what skill level you are your sketchbook should feel like that unintimidating, non-judgmental place where it’s okay to fail. That’s not to say that you deliberately make a bad drawing, but you’re not afraid to. You’re not afraid to go beyond what you’ve done before, just have fun, or try to come up with an idea for a painting or illustration. 

In the watercolors I’ve posted here one of the things that I strive to do is to lessen the amount of detail I use. I want to be able to paint an image with broad clean washes with only as much rendering as needed, but I have a tendency to render too much. There might not seem like a whole lot of rendering in these images, they’re not photo realistic but I’m still trying to strike a balance on how simple I want the rendering to be.

The ink sketches on this page were done as I was trying to visualize an illustration assignment. The other sketches and final illustration were posted in a previous blog entry.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

A traditional Pen and Ink Illustration

For a recent illustration assignment I decided to return to traditional media rather than digital. Although I eventually put in some shading in Sketchbook Pro the pen and ink illustration was largely done using a steel nib and india ink on paper.

 The reason for working this way was that I liked the idea for the drawing and wanted to have an original rather than a digital copy. Compared to doing a pen and ink drawing digitally working with traditional media can seem tedious.  The reason I find it so is because of the work it takes to go from initial sketch to finished pencil drawing, then transferring that drawing to a sheet of Bristol board to do the final inking.
 What I do with the initial drawing, once its been approved, is to rework It making corrections. I do this using a sheet of tracing paper placed over the drawing. I will continue to make corrections using as many sheets of tracing paper as needed till I feel satisfied with the drawing.

After that I transfer the final drawing to a board using a light box. To save time I may make a scan of the final drawing and in Photoshop convert it to a blue line drawing or a very light gray and print that on to a sheet of Bristol board. Once the drawing is transferred I start applying the ink.. In actuality the tedious part to me is transferring the drawing once its ready, everything else I enjoy doing.

The brown shading was done in Sketchbook Pro and the final illustration was fit in to an oval panel.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Painting, The Practice of Practice

A short time ago I had the opportunity to be part of a Draw-a-thon that was held at Art and Design, my old high school in New York City. I had a lot of fun drawing from the model even though I struggled the whole time as I worked from the model. It's been a while since I worked from life, even though I have practically preached the importance of it. I went from one bad watercolor to another but it didn't matter. The experience of working from life was more important than coming away with a successful painting (though that would've been nice too). I could have chosen to be discouraged by the experience but when you really want to be good at something, really master it to the best of your ability, whatever that thing might be, it will be the hardest thing you ever do. I am signed up for a lifetime of working at this, looking forward to each new day to practice my craft.
So now I am in a painting class where every Sunday where I work from the model for about 6 hours. Of course that's not enough so I have to get back and keep up with some old habits like painting outdoors and drawing my fellow passengers on the subway.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How Much Detail Do You Need In A Drawing Or Painting.

How much detail do you need in your image? How do you decide what information is absolutely necessary to create a compelling image? My response is an obvious, "practice", keeping in mind that every artists has a unique way of looking at the same thing. One persons choices will be different from the next.

Of course there are exercises you can do to help you to begin to see things more simply, (you know, less is more).

I like making brush drawings with black ink, focusing on broad patterns of light and dark. Like the first two drawings at left.

Another exercise is to work with a watercolor wash using either lamp black or burnt sienna.

I do my best to keep it simple and stay away from adding to much detail. Something I continually strive to do, that is to strike a balance between simplicity and the amount of detail I put in.

The color self portraits at the end are pages from my sketch book where I try to resolve how much information is necessary to create a convincing image.

These last two are actually the same image. I scanned the painting midway through to show that much of what was necessary was already there.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pen and Ink

It's been a long time since I've done a pen and ink with this much cross hatching. It was really a lot of fun to do. Both drawings posted here was made on Sketchbook Pro. The one of my Mother on the upper left was done with the ball point pen tool and the self portrait was done with the pencil tool.

The ball point pen gave a consistent line which was perfect for this drawing. I usually like using a tool where you can vary the thin and thickness of the line (weight) with pen pressure but this tool worked for this drawing.

I believe it's a good idea to try out all the tools (brushes) in the program so that you know what your options are when you are creating your image. You can use more than one tool for the line quality that you need.

 There i s a video of the self portrait I created for my YouTube channel. The video is embedded bellow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Is More Important Than Technical Skill

These two watercolors are of the same person, my Mother. The time in between these paintings is about 12 years. It's painful to look at them beside each other. Such a reminder of how time can pass almost unnoticed until you look back on images like this.

Technically I know these paintings have there faults but there is a heavy feeling and personality that is communicated in the image's, especially the bottom one. That counts as much, maybe more than the how good the painting is technically.

My belief is that a really good painting is a marriage of both technical skills and an ability to communicate something to your audience, and the first is in the service of the latter. After all, you learn how to paint so that you can communicate what you see, feel and think to your audience.

What you say with your skills is what is going to remain with them when the image is no longer in front of them. It could be a feeling, memory or an idea, but they should walk away with something.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Wash Drawings


You know that left over paint you have on your water color palette. The stuff that you were mixing together. Don't wipe it off your palette. Use it to make wash drawings in your sketchbook. The paint is expensive enough, there's no need to just throw it away, use it.

The sketches I'm posting here were made with the left over paint on my water color palette. Might as well use it to fill up pages in my sketchbook. To be honest, it's been a little while since I've worked in watercolor. Doing these wash drawings help me get warmed up to the medium once again.