Excited for the Future!


I haven’t been neglecting the blog – I swear. I’ve been hard at work on a family portrait for someone, but I can’t post what I’ve got done just in case the recipient sees it! No one likes a ruined surprise.


Why am I excited about the future? Well, mostly because even though I’ve sworn off painting, my adorable husband got sneaky and found some videos about acrylics and started playing them through the Chromecast, as all the while he nonchalantly continued to play a game on the computer so that I wouldn’t get suspicious.
“What is this crap?” I groused.
A shrug in response.
Well, dammit, I was almost instantly captivated. Before long, I was hopping up on my feet, going, “Holy shit, Bill! Did you see that technique?”

I know I’m a nerd, thank you.

But now I am excited to give painting another go, and I’m feeling somewhat confident that I might have some bett
er success this time. My first effort wasn’t atrocious, but it wasn’t anything of which to be proud.

Stay tuned – we’ll soon find out if we can make a nightmare or a masterpiece.

Art Supplies – What do you need?

Someone who seems to be on my site regularly (thanks Ray) brought up a good point on my post about 10 Thoughts all Artists Experience, and that point was the burning desire to purchase the next shiny toy. I think this thought probably applies to most artists, from painters to writers to traditional graphite artists. My belief is that the thought of buying something new is motivating, and can make an fledgling artist feel hopeful that the new toy will drastically improve the end product.

So. Stop.

Save yourself some money and heartache.

Yes, Prismacolor pencils are going to do better things than Crayola pencils, but the artist needs to have a base to begin with. If the artist can’t draw what he/she wants to produce, new pencils that cost a small fortune aren’t going to fix that problem.



These are my basic tools, and even I have more than might be necessary (look up 5 Pencil Method on YouTube).

My pencils range from 6B to 6H, with an F pencil in there. I have four mechanical pencils of varying sizes/density. I have charcoal (soft and medium), a black pencil, mechanical pencil refills, a sharpener, eraser, kneadable eraser, a chamois cloth, a stick eraser (I also have a mechanical eraser, not pictured), a brush to clean off eraser leftovers, and a circle template that is used entirely for drawing eyes (the only perfect circles in nature), and a little sketchbook. Yes, most of it is all bundled up in a cloth pencil case, so you can count that, too, if you wish.

Let’s be honest here. In pencils, I probably only use 2B, 4B, and 6B for the soft graphite, and 4H and 6H for the hard graphite. It’s very rare that I use the other shades. I often use black to keep the shininess off darker areas of my drawings (such as the pupil).

In order to draw, you need something that leaves a mark (a pencil, for example) and a surface to draw on. That’s it. The rest of the tools will fall in place once the basics are mastered.

The only thing that will make an artist great is practice.

Drawing Hair – The Good and the Bad

I’ve posted a very basic hair tutorial already, but I’m thinking about posting a more detailed tutorial for different hair types and colors. After posting my latest work on various social media, I got a lot of comments and questions on the hair. More than one person could not be convinced that the hair only took me around a an hour and a half to finish.


It’s soft and touchable, and rather simple to do after some practice. I wish I had hair like that! 😉

Anyway, I just wanted to show this drawing off on the main page for a bit, so here it is! Check out more work under the Sample Art Workheading.

So, the downside to drawing hair? Patience. Drawing hair isn’t about taking a single pencil and simply colouring in some blank space. It’s about building layers, and thinking about light and texture. It can be a therapeutic drawing experience, or a frustrating one.

Oooh, that’s Ugly

Sometimes the worst feeling when starting a drawing is the anticipation of reaching the end. One should enjoy the process of creating a masterpiece, but sometimes that masterpiece starts off really ugly, and that lone fact causes a lot of anxiety.

I am definitely one of those artists that has ugly work at the beginning stages. I know why, but that isn’t the point.


Eee. Seriously, eeeeeee.

But then…


Okay. This is starting to look acceptable. There’s some promise there…


She’s beautiful. She’s not finished yet, but she is very beautiful, and I know that I can’t mess it up now.

This drawing is evidence that you shouldn’t give up. Push through the fugly, and make your work a masterpiece.

Drawing Challenges

Everyone has something in drawing that acts as a nemesis. Some people hate to draw eyes, lips, or hands; some people struggle to fully render a drawing.

I find that one of my biggest challenges is being left-handed, and not for the reason you think. Sure, dragging my hands through my work is always a risk, but it’s really defeated by working right to left.

No, my challenge is that I’ve always tilted my head to write or draw, because we live in a right-handed world. I curl my wrist funny (from all those years fighting with binder rings and, of course, not wanting to drag my hand through my work), and I tilt my head.

Why is this a challenge, you ask? Try writing or drawing on unlined paper with your head tilted. Let me know how it goes.

Advice from Various Artists and Why You Shouldn’t Always Listen

All right, I’m not going to quote anything verbatim, because this is all pretty general advice that a variety of artists will tell anyone. Plus, who knows where they got it from to begin with?

1) Fully render one part of the drawing at a time.
Kinda, sorta… if you want to. Rendering one section at a time makes the artist pay more attention to tedious details, and the overall view is less overwhelming. The downside is that there’s a lot of prep work, because you’ll need to make a reference value to make sure you don’t have different values in one area as opposed to another; plus, if you’re drawing freehand, you might have some trouble with proportions.

2) Always do the darkest areas first.
This helps with maintaining values. Cool; however, I personally like to do the lighter areas on skin first, because it’s easier to darken than to lighten, especially with charcoal. I also like drawing hair (often dark) last. It’s a matter of preference.

3) Take an art program.
You can… there’s nothing wrong with doing so, and taking a program will likely fast-track your progress. You could also save your money and study independently and practice practice practice.

10 Thoughts All Artists Experience

“The wall to creativity” seems to be something that most artists can relate to, even if we all know that the end result often makes all the effort worthwhile.

I used to be horrible for finishing anything, from writing a short story to fully rendering a drawing. Sometimes it just takes a little kick in the ass to get a person moving.

Can you relate to these thoughts?

10) There’s a lot of detail in the clothes this person is wearing. Maybe I’ll just make everything a solid colour….

9) Why the hell does this person have such a weird eye (when, in actual fact, it’s only weird because you’ve been staring at it for twenty minutes and still can’t get it quite right)?

8) I’ll fix that later… (don’t give in to this thought! Fix it now).

7) Hmm, I wonder if I can just call this piece of work abstract.

6) If I just smudge this a little more… crap!

5) I wonder if I can get famous by painting a bunch of circles…

4) Should I try to integrate a new medium into this drawing?

3) Wow, I wish I could draw something like that (no matter how talented you are already)!

2) I’ll work on it tomorrow (work on it today!).

1) It looks pretty darn good. Is it good? Yeah, it’s good. I hope my client thinks it’s good…

Practice Makes… Improvement Obvious

Face it – there’s no such thing as perfect, and that’s okay! I tell my husband regularly that I’m pretty awesome, and in my books, that’s close enough to being perfect.

I often get asked, “How do you know what to draw to make it (the drawing) look real?”

The answer? You’ve got it – practice!

No one is born knowing how to draw.


This was my first attempt at drawing the cat several years ago.


This was a few months ago.

It took a lot of screwing up to learn how to get it right, and lots of practice.

A Drawing vs Photo Realism

For the sake of this post, I’m calling a drawing as a work of art that looks like a drawing. Photo realism (PR) refers to the works that appear like a photograph.

I don’t do PR, and the reasons are simple.

1) I don’t have the patience. PR takes a lot of time and commitment. I’m all about instant gratification.

2) Why not just take a photo? Hey, PR artists are insanely talented and patient. I respect them. I’d just rather bend reality a little bit.

3) I like to put my own style into my work. I want to make little changes and make the work mine. I love the little ‘flaws’ that make the work unique.

4) I like straight pencil work. I’m not into air brushing or stuff like that.

I admire PR work as much as the next person, but it’s not really for me as an artist.

‘Drawing’ White Fur

Ever look at a drawing and think to yourself, “Wow, how did he/she draw that white fur? It looks so soft!”

It’s all an optical illusion. I’ve posted before about how the eye fills in the blanks, and that’s all white fur it. There will be a few lines here and there, but for the most part, it’s blank (or negative) space.

Here are some tips:
1) Hair casts shadows. Shading in small areas of shadow make the white parts look more real and 3D.

2) Less is more! Don’t shade in too much, or you’ll ruin the effect.

3) Draw lightly and use an electric eraser to draw out white lines for whiskers, ear hair, etc.

'Map' - graphite, white ink
‘Map’ – graphite, white ink

In the drawing above, the cat’s whiskers are simply erased area that are outlined with graphite. The ear hair is the same. The forward paw only has shading to separate the toes.

Give it a try!