Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Block-in sketch of little girl sculpture

Daily Art 01-31-18 block-in practice of little girl sculpture

I remember being charmed by this clay sculpture of a little girl pulling her hair up when I would spend time at my grandma's house. She must have remembered how much I liked it because several years ago she gifted it to me so I could enjoy it again.

Today's block-in of this sculpture went really well! It was fun to sketch and capture the character of the girl. The face gave me some trouble, so I had to erase it out, instead just marked the locations of the features with angled lines.

The next lesson in my online atelier course is to draw a still life of vessels — which will be an exercise in drawing symmetrical forms with ellipses. Slightly intimidating, but it'll be a great learning experience when I finally dig into it.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Block-in sketch of handmade dog treat toy

Daily Art 01-29-18 block-in practice of handmade dog treat toy

I've been listing a bunch of handmade dog accessories in my Etsy shop lately and this little dog treat toy caught my eye as a good block-in sketch subject. It's sort of like preliminary figure drawing practice.

Initially the sketch was too narrow, so when it was roughly blocked in I needed to go wider with it. My favorite part of the toy in real life is the ears — and it's my favorite part of this sketch, too.

Since I make these by hand, they're not all perfectly symmetrical, and those imperfections add more charm and character to these little guys.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Block-in sketch of three apples

Daily Art 01-27-18 block-in practice of three apples

For today's sketch I went back to really simple objects, and increased it to three apples instead of two. I found it helpful to have multiple objects to get the block-in accurate. I was able to look at the negative shapes and relationships between things like the tops and stems.

If I could get myself to see all subjects simply as shapes to draw envelopes of, things like the tree branch that challenged me would be more successful. Quieting the part of my brain that wants to name what I'm drawing…that's the key I'm continuing to work toward.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Focused practice sketchbook recap

I wrapped up my most recent Focused Practice project earlier this month, and thought I'd post a recap of what that experience was like. The project began on November 10, 2017 with the decision to focus on making better sketches, faster. I wanted to get better at accurately drawing proportions as well as developing a more consistent sketching style while drawing from life.

The original goal was to do 100 sketches for this project. After sketch 97 I noticed that the lessons for my online atelier were intersecting nicely with where my sketches were going, so I decided to call the project good enough and switch over to the atelier lessons.

I really feel like I met my original goals (despite falling a few short)! The key turning point for me was when I discovered classical drawing techniques. This set me on a path that helped me learn a good system for accurate proportions, block-ins, and more consistent (i.e. simpler) line and value language.

I also came across the work of Yim Mau-Kun (Mau-Kun Yim? I've seen it written different ways so I'm not sure which is more correct) during this time. His shading techniques fascinate me, which I started exploring in this sketch. I love the hatching marks combined with larger, softer tones — with the combination of crisp and soft. In exploring his work, I became even more certain that classical drawing techniques were a good direction for me to head.

Here are some of my favorite sketches from the project:

sketch practice progress collage
Top row: SKETCH PRACTICE #15-16: CLASSICAL BANANASSKETCH PRACTICE #17-19SKETCH PRACTICE #30-35
Middle row: SKETCH PRACTICE #46-49SKETCH PRACTICE #85SKETCH PRACTICE #87
Bottom row: SKETCH PRACTICE #90SKETCH PRACTICE #94SKETCH PRACTICE #97

Drawing my dogs' toys was a surprising amount of fun! I could see doing a series on that theme at some point.

Almost all of the sketches from this project can be seen in my "Sketchbook focused practice" Flickr album.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Block-in sketch of Uashmama paper bag

Daily Art 01-25-18 block-in practice

I received this adorable little paper bag for Christmas that's just begging for a tiny herb plant to be put inside it. It's from the trip my husband's parents took to Italy and the simple, earthy design of it is really wonderful.

My Sadie Valeri online atelier lessons are on hold for the moment while I catch up with my other projects. After Matt posted one of my pet portraits on the AccidentalWesAnderson subreddit over the weekend, I got a bunch of emails from people wanting portraits of their dogs. So I'm working on several of those, and also had a freelance design project come up, as well as the projects I'm sewing for Oxford Dogma. It's been an awesome week to say the least!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Block-in sketch of a tree branch v5

Daily Art 01-24-18 block-in practice

OK, if I cheat the left side and extend the branch past my original mark indicating the width of this subject, my quick sketch is pretty good. But I hate cheating like that!

Getting the angle right on that long line between the left edge and the highest twig is very challenging. It sets up the shape of the right side, and I can see now how I gave that right side too much space. But it's really cool to see how overall my sketches are progressing. And practicing the same subject multiple times is a relatively new improvement to my drawing habits, which is a great thing.

I also really like taking a looser approach to putting the pencil on the paper. That's something I've definitely been working on developing so I'm excited to feel that happening.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Block-in sketch of a tree branch v4

Daily Art 01-23-18 block-in practice

This is my fourth version of sketching this branch and I do think it's getting closer! The main problem with this one is that things are a little too cramped on the right side. I need to bring that vertical twig over to the left a little and adjust the spacing on the leaves.

I did better at large envelope shapes but still have improvement needed. I'll keep trying with this one to see if I can get past this hurdle.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Block-in sketch of a tree branch v3

Daily Art 01-22-18 block-in practice

My block-in practice for today is of the same tree branch from the last few sketches. I'm still working on making the proportions accurate. And I'm still making it too tall and narrow. Of course this throws off the cluster of leaves on the right side, so I want to take another shot at it and work on getting closer.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Block-in sketch of a tree branch

Daily Art 01-21-18 block-in practice

I'm continuing to work on straight-line block-ins, but shorter sketching sessions instead of the 1-hour exercises. My schedule got more full after my husband posted one of my recent pet portrait projects on the Accidental Wes Anderson subreddit. A bunch of people contacted me and asked for a drawing of their dog in the same style, which is really cool!

So my goal is to continue with daily sketches and focus on improving the block-ins of more complex shapes like this tree branch, which has been challenging. I did a block-in of it yesterday and liked the final sketch, but I know the proportions were off. I think that in my effort to avoid making it too wide, I overcompensated and made it too tall.

After finishing the large sketch, I did a smaller, rougher version and tried to just get the angles right. It's closer, but still needs work.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice day 10

Daily Art 01-20-18 10-day block-in practice Day 10

Today's straight-line block-in practice ended pretty well, but it was a hard road to get there! When I sighted the centers and drew based on them, the subject looked too wide. When I stretched the height past the original marks it helped. This was also a tough subject because of how asymmetrical the branch of leaves is — the left half of it is basically nothingness, with the leaves all sitting on the right half.

It would be interesting to draw this same thing again, and see how my drawing changes.

One thing I definitely need to work on more for these block-ins is to break the subject into large shapes, then subdivide into next largest shapes, etc. I continue to get caught up in defining details like where the leaves are and how big they are. Which prevents me from getting the overall proportions accurate.

This was the last day in this lesson for my online atelier course, but I may continue to do a little more work and see if I can break myself of the habit of jumping to details.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice day 9

Daily Art 01-19-18 10-day block-in practice Day 9

In the first step of this drawing of a branch with leaves, I didn't look at the overall envelope shape very accurately. So from the first step, things were skewed. On the third step, it took a lot of reshaping on the left side. But this was an awesome subject for utilizing negative shapes for better proportions! And I love the organic, sculptural shape of these leaves.

I have another branch that I'll try next time, spending a little more time on step two for a more accurate overall shape.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Colored pencil portrait commissions for two beloved hounds

colored pencil portraits of Scout and Tuck

I was delighted to create portraits of these two hounds last fall. They were commissioned as Christmas gifts, so I didn't post about them while I worked, but you can read all about the project on my Oxford Dogma blog.




Read more >

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice day 8

Daily Art 01-17-18 10-day block-in practice Day 8

I did a much better job of remembering to extend my lines through the whole subject today. For this apple and pear, I focused on getting the overall shape right before thinking about contour details. Which was easier because they're such smooth, simple shapes.

Only two days left of this lesson! I think tomorrow I'll find a slightly more complex subject. I'm interested in trying a plant, to see if I can get myself to see the large shapes and not get fixated on individual leaves.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice day 7

Daily Art 01-16-18 10-day block-in practice Day 7

Apparently it's common to draw things wider than they actually are in life. I was glad to learn this because I definitely have this problem! You can see in today's straight-line block-in drawing between steps 2 (upper left) and 3 (lower left) how I needed to make my drawing of this bag of pasta much narrower. I think I could have seen this earlier in my process by doing more long lines that follow all the way through the subject to the other side.

Definitely a habit I need to develop! My tendency is still to focus on smaller areas.

Mantra: long lines, long lines, long lines.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice day 6

Daily Art 01-15-18 10-day block-in practice Day 6

For today's straight-line block-in practice I moved on from fruit to a little bird sculpture. I'm happy with how it evolved through the three steps, and being a slightly more complex shape gave me more checkpoints to visually measure against.

I'm not sure what I'll be drawing tomorrow — as I look around the house I see very little in the way of simple, organic shapes! Maybe I'll do one of the dog's toys again…

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice day 5

Daily Art 01-13-18 10-day block-in practice Day 5

This was a great next step for the straight-line block-in practice. I see how I got too caught up in edge details in step 3, so tomorrow I want to work on zooming my eyes out and seeing relationships across the entire subject better.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice day 4

Daily Art 01-12-18 10-day block-in practice Day 4

Today's subject of a banana was more complex to draw than the previous days' fruits. I really wanted to get the inner and outer curves accurate, and the proportion of the stem compared to the main part of the fruit.

Tomorrow I'll select two things to draw so I can work on the relationship between them.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice Day 3

Daily Art 01-11-18 10-day block-in practice Day 3

One of the things I especially like about the straight-line block-in exercise for my class is that it forces me to slow down and really look at the subject. By drawing it three time — starting generally and getting more specific — it helps me make fewer assumptions and study the form more.

After three days of single, simple fruits, tomorrow I'll either find a more complex subject or pair two fruits together to start working on the relationship between them.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice Day 2

Daily Art 01-10-18 10-day block-in practice Day 2

Today I caught myself staring at the contour of the pear I was drawing too much, losing sight of the bigger shapes and proportions. I think part of the reason is feeling distracted by my to-do list. Tomorrow I'll try harder to be present, focus on big shapes, and make longer lines.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Straight-line block-in practice Day 1

Daily Art 01-09-18 10-day block-in practice Day 1

Today I begin the ten day exercise of 4-step straight-line block-ins from life for my Sadie Valerie Online Atelier training. The idea is to warm up with a Bargue plate then switch to a simple object drawn from life. The first step is to envelope, step two is to repeat the envelope and carve out the basic form, and step three is to repeat the previous two steps and take it to a more developed state. Step four will come later.

I'm so grateful for this class! Sadie's videos are really valuable and teaching me so much about this process. It's playing well with my natural inclination to follow instructions carefully — so even though I'm not physically in her class, the assignments are so detailed that by following them as instructed I can see improvements in my drawing skills.

So my goal now is to continue this exercise for ten consecutive days, before we take it up another notch with longer drawings and include step four.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sketch practice #97

Daily Art 01-08-18 still life sketch in graphite number 97 - big pinecone

I was feeling ambitious with today's sketch! I got back from CraftHack tonight in an inspired mood so picked up this big pinecone off the shelf to sketch. It helped that I didn't think to hard about it — I just jumped in and started sketching.

I caught myself from getting too focused on the individual parts early on by making long lines that follow the directional growth pattern of the scales. The class I watched today for my online atelier class was super helpful. I kept it loose and rough, but I can totally see the pinecone and basic shadow areas in there. Feeling good about this one!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Sketch practice #96

Daily Art 01-07-18 still life sketch in graphite number 96 - toothpaste tube

I didn't expect it to be so difficult to draw the shadow shapes on this tube of toothpaste! I think the issue was that the graphics on the tube were confusing my eyes. I'm looking forward to more training on this topic with the online atelier course I'm taking.

I really like how the flip cap looks :)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sketch practice #95

Daily Art 01-06-18 still life sketch in graphite number 95 - handmade cross body canvas purse

This weekend we were able to enjoy some camping near Superior, AZ. The weather during the day was pretty much perfect, although at night it got rather cold (at least for us). We got to take the dogs to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and we all had a great time — especially because it was overcast and we didn't have to wilt under the sun.

For my sketch, I chose the purse I hang from a hook opposite my seat at the dinette. I liked that it was fairly simple with a softly structured shape.

It ended up being taller than the actual purse. I could have caught that if I had checked the shape before moving on to details. Despite that issue, I'm happy with the shadows on the fabric and the metal buckle!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sketch practice #94

Daily Art 01-05-18 still life sketch in graphite number 94 - tretorn sneaker

My favorite warm-weather shoes are these navy blue Tretorn sneakers I got from J.Crew. At first they weren't very comfortable, but after breaking them in they got nice and flexible, like a comfy pair of khakis.

I tried to focus on larger shapes for much longer than the previous sketches to help make it more accurate before moving on to smaller details. I'm not sure why these shoes are giving me so much trouble! The stuffed dog toys were easier for me to block in. Maybe next time I do a shoe I'll skip details all together and just set the goal of an accurate block in.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Sketch practice #93

Daily Art 01-04-18 still life sketch in graphite number 93 - cozy slipper

I seriously struggled with the shape of this slipper! The toe area still isn't right, but I finally needed to call it done.

I think my main issue was getting stuck on details before the block-in was accurate and I just kept cycling around and around the problems. Maybe I'll try it again from a different angle and see if I can make some progress on it.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sketch practice #92

Daily Art 01-03-18 still life sketch in graphite number 92 - leather bootie shoe

Yesterday's shoe sketch was fun, so I picked another from the closet for today's sketch. This is a black leather ankle bootie I've had for quite a few years and I still love them. For a shoe with a heel, they're surprisingly comfortable! That's key for me.

I wanted to see if I could do this sketch more quickly, which worked out pretty well. But the shading went messy on the back of the shoe which I don't like. I also didn't do a great job of making long, soft lines (per my Sadie Valerie online atelier training) so I'm still working on that…And since it's black leather, I had a much more difficult time discerning where the shadow shapes were.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sketch practice #91

Daily Art 01-02-18 still life sketch in graphite number 91 - single brogue shoe

My goal today was to make long, soft pencil lines instead of short, choppy ones. I'd say I made progress in this direction, but it definitely needs more work.

I am happy with the fact that I didn't get obsessive about any of the details! Typically I would have wanted to round out the knot tied in the laces but I allowed them to be more angular and loose.

One thing that would have improved the toe area: draw a line down the actual center of the top, from the split to the tip of the toe, as if it were a face and I was locating the centerline and features along it. I can see that it's wonky the way it's drawn right now.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Sketch practice #90

Daily Art 01-01-18 still life sketch in graphite number 90 - summer hat

Here in Phoenix it's a great time of year for walking outdoors, but that sun is still brutal on my head and eyes. I always wear a hat, either a baseball style cap or a bucket hat like this one. I thought the floppy, organic shape would be fun to sketch today.

I think the uneven shadow shapes help describe the waves of the fabric, especially on the brim. And the shadow helps it almost pop off the paper. I'm happy with how this sketch turned out!

I've spent the last week reflecting on 2017 and setting my goals for 2018, and noticed how my art practice has evolved so much since January of 2017. I spent much of the beginning part of last year doing pen and watercolor wash sketches, like this one based on a Skillshare class. Since mid-2016 I've been drawing and painting, exploring lots of different approaches — those can be found on my other blog. Those projects are largely illustrative in style, and I'm excited to be deepening my drawing from life skills with my current focused practice project of 100 sketches.

It's taking longer than I originally anticipated to complete this project because many days are one sketch rather than multiple. But I'm not bothered by that at all! I'm finding a groove with more accurate proportions and line style, and I feel like working from life is a really benefitting my observational skills.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Sketch practice #89

Daily Art 12-31-17 still life sketch in graphite number 89 - javelina plush toy

Like Sharkie, this little plush javelina isn't actually meant to be a dog toy. But one day it fell off Matt's desk, and Pipsqueak ran over, snatched it up, and took off with it. Thereby declaring it hers.

The thing that looks like a tail is actually the tag — I'm sure there would have been a better way to draw it to describe it more accurately. But I do like how the overall shape looks, especially the feet.

I want to do a better job of making long straight lines instead of sketchy short lines that build up into a longer line. That's my mission tomorrow.