Life drawing returns


The life-drawing session I attend has returned from an extended hiatus over the holidays. The people organizing models needed a break and it took a while to get going again. But now it’s back.

I missed these drawing sessions a lot. Having one night a week where I get to turn off my brain and draw is relaxing and restorative. I was worried that these sessions might not pick up again. There aren’t a lot of options in Tacoma. I found an online resource for artist’s photographic references and bought a few sets of poses in case I needed some reference material.

What a strange thing. There are lots of photos of naked people on the internet, but these photos aren’t for that. Art model reference photos are all well lit, set in a white room, and are deeply un-erotic. They’re almost clinical. And now this site sends me marketing emails with photos of naked people I might like to buy.

Sunday eggs


Last Sunday I found a little time to paint in between chores. My kitchen window faces north which provides lovely soft, white light on my kitchen counter. Every still life I’ve painted lately has started with me looking down at some food on my kitchen counter, bathed in that light.

There’s something there for me - looking at a single thing on the counter in the light. Maybe something about focus or domestic peace; Not sure. But I keep coming back to it.

I think these eggs will become raw material for another web painting I have brewing in the back of my mind. But for now they’re just eggs.

I found a nice trick for making perfect circles in Procreate. The app has several “airbrush” style brushes. They have hard and soft edges, really similar to the default brushes in Photoshop actually. There is one very large, very hard brush. I simply set the brush size to the size of the circle I need and tap the screen once (with a little pen pressure) and boop! A perfect circle.


On Instagram someone commented about the chip in the side of the bowl being a nice detail. Of course I chose the bowl with the chip. I spent a few minutes rotating that bowl around so the chip caught the light just so and then sloshing the eggs around so they were in the right spot. That little imperfection seemed to ground the thing in reality, breaking up the perfect roundness of the bowl and the eggs.

Sunday portrait study


I was a tiny bit worried last week. I got an email from the chap who organizes my Thursday night figure drawing sessions. He was emailing the group to see if anyone wanted to take over wrangling models as he couldn’t afford the time and the previous person needed to step down. Oh no! How would I get my practice in now? I’m in the same boat as most of the folks who come to these drawing sessions, I have a job, and a commute, and precious little free time. So I was of no use to help.

I went online and found some inexpensive stock photo resources for artists. A lot of the available poses are…dumb. Theatrical or overwrought. But I did find a few good portrait references. Now I can keep up my practice.

A couple of days later another email arrived and model wrangling had been solved. Figure drawing Thursdays are back on, starting in February. Lucky me.

I think portraits are some of the best practice you can get for drawing and painting. It’s immediately apparent when any thing is wrong or even just a little off. It’s difficult to capture a likeness, it’s difficult to capture light on skin. Faces have complex topology and heads are just shaped funny. When the results are good, though, they can be magical. You begin to empathize with the person in the picture, to connect with them as if they are real.

Here, this woman looks down and to her left. The pose and lighting suggest getting up early, before the sun, sitting in the light from a single lamp on a night stand.


I learned, or re-learned, or remembered, recently that value - the light to dark - is more critical than color for creating an image that feels solid and real. After creating a thorough enough sketch to map out the geometry of the model, I focused entirely on value, painting entirely in greyscale. Then I came back and painted in color on top. This is a very old fashioned method but it applies just as well to digital painting.

 Painting, underpainting, and drawing

Painting, underpainting, and drawing