Drybrush Painting

It’s true – I said that I’d sworn off painting, and then I was like, “Well, now I’m excited to try painting again…” Then, of course, I didn’t proceed with doing anything, so ’round and ’round we go.

Well, guess what.  I was perusing Instagram (yes, Instagram – you can follow me here) and all these people had beautiful portraits with such amazing contrasts that I could hardly believe it.  How on earth did they do that?

Hahahaha.  With my nemesis, of course – OIL PAINT.  It’s a whole thing with using what is called drybrush technique with oil paint to paint these amazing portraits that look like they’re pencil drawn, except smoother and darker.  Amazing.

After watching a gazillion videos on the technique and stocking up on the items that I would need, I decided to take a portrait that wasn’t going the way I wanted it to and use it as my guinea pig for this incredible painting technique.

The result?

Happy Child - Oil Dry Brush
Happy Child – Oil Dry Brush

Well, I learned that I wasn’t quite sure how to do blond hair with black oil paint, so the hair was done in pencil, and I think it shows; however, the portrait as a whole came out rather nicely, if I do say so myself!  It looks like a technique that I will be continuing to explore in the future, and I hope to present many more portraits with this beautiful contrast.

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.

Observe.

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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.

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.

Action Poses

Drawing an animal or figure is commonplace in the art world, but it takes time and practice to find the action in the image, to capture it and bring it to life for the viewer.

Take the image below as an example.

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This is my dog, Dexter, and this pose speaks volumes about his personality. This is what he does every chance he gets – he cuddles. I could draw his face straight on, but what would that capture except the average face of a golden retriever? A head tilt, a telling pose – those are the tiny evidences of personality that can bring a drawing to life.

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Again, a snuggler. Her expression is one of laze and contentment.

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

This shows Map’s friendly face, and it gives her a pose of comfort. Someone looking at this drawing can easily deduce that she is a house cat, and that  she’s approachable. The forward paw and the curled in paw – these are both action poses that introduce the viewer to Map as an entity, and not just a drawing.

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Try something new instead of the portrait pose, and I guarantee that you’ll like the results.

Copyright

I am not a lawyer!  I never wanted to be one, though I’ve been told many a-time that I could talk my way out of anything.  I’m pretty sure that’s the signature of a con artist, but perhaps they are one and the same?

Okay, bad joke.  Don’t hate me if you’re a lawyer.

I thought that this link might be interesting to artists, including photographers, composers, painters, etc.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office

 

 

 

Acrylic Painting

I’ve been experimenting with acrylics, because there is something about acrylics that really appeals to me. Watercolor is fun, but there’s a certain type of wantonness about watercolor painting that connects me more with the abstract and random. I feel like I connect with different mediums in very diverse ways; pencil drawings lead me toward realism, pastels lead me to cartoonish pieces, watercolor to the free-flowing and abstract, and acrylics with a deep seated type of sentiment.

Acrylics draw out my darker thoughts and feelings, which exhibit themselves into my work. I started the painting that is in the title photo of this post, and I felt like I could really connect with it. It’s far from complete; the main subject has yet to be added, and of course the finer details of the water, sky, and beach are still missing. I think, though, that the viewer can ascertain the frame of mind and the world that I came from while working on this painting. The painting was inspired by a photo that a husband/wife photography team took, (visit their page here) though my interpretation is darker and lonelier.

How do different mediums affect you?

Tutorials

I’ve been pretty slack with adding tutorials – I know it. I’ve been so busy with my full-time job and commissions that I just haven’t gotten there yet.

My intentions over the next few weeks are to do some more tutorials, including:

  • how to draw a simple rose
  • How to draw animal hair/fur
  • Whisker techniques
  • How to draw feathers

I think the tutorials will be fun to do, and hopefully they’ll be helpful to many people who are starting out.

More to come soon!

 

 

Finishing a Drawing

Some people find it difficult to figure out where to start with a drawing, while others (like me) have a hard time finishing one. Both problems can be super frustrating, but both problems are equally simple to solve; just get the job done. Start somewhere, shade something. Work on it piece by piece until it comes together.

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I’d never show someone my millions of sketchbooks. They are so full of half-assed sketches and experiments that they look like piles of garbage. That garbage, though, is my inspiration. Those books are evidence of the hours and hours I’ve dedicated to practicing this craft.

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A partially finished drawing is nowhere near as satisfying as a finished work. It holds so much potential and promise, but it’s just like a giant ball of potential energy; it needs to be made kinetic to become useful. It becomes something to be proud of. There is nothing worse than walking away from something that should be great, if only given the chance.

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Sometimes it’s necessary to walk away from something that just isn’t working… but don’t make a habit of it.

Happy Customers!

In case you missed it, I’ve been hard at work completing my first charcoal portrait of a beautiful Great Dane named Draco.  Great Danes are known for their size, but also for their characteristic faces, which makes drawing their portraits both challenging and interesting.

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Draco

I dropped off Draco’s portrait this morning to his very pleased pet parents, who proudly show off their new piece of art!

 

Should I Use an Easel?

Ah, as you walk amongst the throngs of Parisian street artists, you see that some of them have easels nestled comfortably under their canvasses. Confusingly, you also see some artists who are using their laps, and let’s not forget the dreamers who are using artists’ board. Who is right?

Don’t bother trying to peak over someone’s shoulder in order to compare results; chances are, they’ll all be good.

Many mainstream artists will say that an easel is necessary to avoid losing the 3D-ness and to get caught up in the foreshortening of the drawing, and while that may be true for many, it’s not the case for everyone!

It takes some practice to get accustomed to using an easel, because there’s no longer anywhere to rest your drawing arm. The whole process can feel awkward and uncomfortable, but like many things, it gets easier the more you do it and get used to it.

I myself have an easel, but I don’t use it very often. I like to think of it as my travel companion; it comes out of its case mainly when I’m away from home, or sometimes I take it out to place finished works on it until I’ve decided what to do with everything.
In general, I use an artist’s board. It’s smaller than an easel, fits in a portfolio bag, and I can sit with it on my lap when I’m working. The downside, of course, is the horrendous posture that comes with hovering over the board.

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As you can see from the image of my unfinished drawing above, an art board can still be used effectively to achieve good results.

I also have, in my beloved art studio (a colorful room in my basement that contains only some shelves, yarn, and piles of art supplies), a glass art desk that tilts. It’s much more posture friendly, while still allowing me to comfortably tilt my work. It’s a fantastic thing to have, but definitely bigger and pricier than an easel or board.

My point is that what you use is up to you. Don’t knock anything until you’ve tried it a few times; something as subtle as your drawing support could make a world of difference to your end product.