24 December 2012


merry christmas 
and peace in 2013



something about the long, dark nights 
and short, cold days 
of winter
heighten my appreciation 
for family and friends.

This walnut Santa was a gift 
from my 6-year-old sister 
...some years ago
it's just a walnut with some cotton glued on...
but, it's my favorite tree ornament.

i am grateful for a 2012 well-spent
...and hopeful for 2013

best wishes

13 December 2012

Tips for Drawing Portraits with Graphite

I am putting together a portfolio of portraits, which will include this graphite piece...drawn from a reference photo in 30 hours.  Graphite is a slow medium, requiring patience, especially for larger pieces.  If you want a faster drawing, use charcoal.

I started this drawing with a freehand lay-in on Strathmore vellum bristol board, series 300...a nice surface that accepts graphite well, and can be easily erased.  I always start with hard lead, which is easy to erase, then slowly work up from there...2H, then HB, 2B, 4B, and finally 6B for a few dark accents.  Don't use too much 6B, it's greasy and reflective. 

Amanda at Two, 14x11", graphite on bristol board

A few tips I thought of while drawing this piece:
  • Draw standing up so you can step back frequently to check values. Squint often at your reference. 
  • I map out the key values with a value finder before I start a piece, exaggerating some values for a more effective result.  I refer to this map often during drawing.
  • Mask negative spaces with tracing paper to keep them clean.  I lay a piece of tracing paper over the entire lay-in, trace around the face, then cut that area out for a quick mask.
  • Hold your pencil at arms length like a piece of charcoal as often as possible.  It produces strokes with more interest and energy.
  • I constantly correct my drawing, right down to the point where I sign it.  I make most judgments by eye, but for precise fixes, I use a cool little measuring tool called an Accurasee proportional divider.  Precision is often required for a likeness.

A detailed view...