Monday, July 5, 2010

Gothic arches

It's true, I'm an addict. I'm addicted to swapping art and small pieces of artwork with my internet friends.
Hi, my name is Sox, and I'm a swap addict.

I just signed up with the TreasureArtTrend group to  make some gothic arches. We are 14 in the group, so we make 14, send them off and will receive 14 back! The format is 4x4, to make a chunky Fat Book.

Here is mine. We were to incorporate a woman and a bird. And an arch!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Junk album samples

Here are the pages I painted yesterday:

Aren't these colors completely yummy?

Let's see yours now!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More photos about your junk mail

I've been working on a little book this afternoon.

I've realized that I'm either not following Carla's instructions for applying the watercolors, or I don't remember what she did, or maybe I'm doing my own thing.

Anyway, of course, you'd want to experiment.

Here's what I've been doing:
After the gesso is dry, rather than waiting for the first coat of watercolor to dry, I do a wet-on wet, I think it's called. I put one color really liquid, then I add another color on the side or most of it, and let that drip and melt into the first color.
I get much more vibrant colors, and the results are pretty neat.

So... it's up to you. Experiment until you get the colors you want. The beautiful thing about watercolors is that they run into each other, and if you can hang your papers to dry, and have them standing rather than laying flat, then the colors will run. IF they lay flat, they will puddle, which is another interesting effect.

Anyway, I'm sure you have enough junk mail to experiment.

These should inspire you and fill in where I didn't put words....

This last one is a page from Carla's book. She's just too clever!

Junk Mail book

Supply List:
  • 10-20 pieces of junk mail (envelopes, unopened credit card offers, Pizza Hut flyers etc.)
  • brushes, about 1/2" wide
  • small watercolor set (cake or tube is fine)
  • brayer
  • roll of scotch tape. scissors
  • A small container of white gesso
  • Plastic or newspaper to protect your work table
  • twine, rope or ribbon

Optional items:  1/8" hole punch, heat gun, rags, water containers

Select pieces of junk mail that are made our sturdy paper. The thin newspaper pages probably wouldn’t work so well.

Pick pieces that are of different sizes so your pages overlap and stick out over each other. 
Envelopes are great too if they have an interesting marking on the inside. Split the envelope open so it lays flat. You can see Carla’s page using an envelope. Note also how the pages are different size and overlap.

The first stage is to cover your mail with a layer of gesso with the brayer. Pour the gesso in a tray or a sheet of glass so you can load your brayer. Apply the gesso rather thinly so that some of the text shows in place. If there are some parts of the advert you like, such as a face or a cute puppy, leave it showing.
When you apply the gesso with the brayer, only go over the page once. You really want to have the markings left by the brayer to show. The watercolor paint will later sit in these ridges and valleys and it will look really neat.

Paint one side of all your pieces and lay on the plastic or newspaper to dry. Go have some fun.
When one side is dry, cover the other side. Your gesso must be dry, so that it doesn’t lift later. It’s ok to use a heat gun.

Now the fun part. Get your watercolors. Choose one color for the base. Dilute it heavily and start applying on the first piece of mail with your ½” brush. Your color should be transparent. Put it to dry and do all your other pieces.  You can vary the base color you use on your pieces so they don’t look the same. You’ll  notice that the paint deposits unevenly on the gesso. That’s the idea.

Lay out to dry.

When the first side is dry, do the other side of all your pieces with a base color. Let dry.

*****Yes, it takes a lot of drying. Better have another project going too.*****

When both the sides are dry with your first layer of water color paint, pick another color, complementary, or to add accents. Carla used some diluted brown to make it vintage, grungy. Cover part of the page with your second color, again, very transparent and diluted.
Cover all your pieces, and lay to dry.

You can see on these pages how the watercolor deposits irregularly, and takes a great look with the second color.
Do the other sides.
Use the photos here  as a guide for the strength of color to use. You should end up with some lovely, transparent color that is yummy.

Notice how the pages overlap. This lady emphasized the difference in size to make her pages really funky.

Next to the binding. Carla used twine to go with the junk mail aspect. You could use rope, ribbon, rings, whatever you can come up with. Depending on the height of your book, punch 3 or 4 holes. Mark all your pages so your holes correspond. Then insert a piece of twine and tie it off individually for each hole. You can cut the piece off or use it to go to the next hole. The idea is that the book has to lay flat when it is open.

Yours truly showing her book.
It was such a fun class!
Here are some examples below to help you design your book.

And here is Carla’s book with her amazing animals. I will not guide you through her animal design, it is really unique to the way she thinks and I’d be incapable of leading you through it. 

I hope to see your examples in the photo album.
If there are points that are unclear, do contact me:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DRSB - a flower

Just in time for spring, this next lesson requires a flower. It is best to pick a flower that has buds as well as the open flower, and leaves. We are still working with line drawing. You will be rendering this 3 dimensional, complicated object, to your flat surface.

Pick your flowers and set them standing up in front of you.
Use your viewfinder in front of the flower. Remember to close one eye to flatten the image.
Draw the image with an erasable felt tip directly onto the viewfinder.

On your drawing pad, trace the middle vertical and horizontal to match the viewfinder.
With your #2 pencil, transfer the main points on the plastic plane to your paper. Remember to use the edges of the viewfinder as well.

Set the viewfinder aside. Look carefully at your flower. With your #4 pencil, redraw the edges.

Erase the crosshairs. Sign and date.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

DRSB- working with a grid

I mentioned on the Yahoo group this morning that using a viewfinder and a grid for drawing is not cheating, and has been used for professionals for eons.

I am posting some photos that I found in a book I was reading yesterday: 59 Studio Secrets of The Graphic Artist. It's an old book, pre-computers.

It had this set of pictures with a grid, and I thought it'd be a nice addition to the DRSB. This is NOT part of the course. But you might find it handy. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them and read the text.

The secret of the grid is to make sure that you use the same proportions on your grid and on your final paper. Otherwise, you'll get distortions big time.

Arlene asked a very valid question: do you draw ON the grid like you do in the DRSB course? You could do that too, indeed.

In the DRSB, she has you drawing directly ON the viewfinder first, to get the initial drawing first. This is a teaching method.

On this one, the person is sharing with 'professionals' so you just use the grid as a guide. But if your model is going to move, you might want to draw on the grid for sure.

I've used that method in the past for newspaper drawings and from books, never on real people.

Once again, this is NOT part of the course, it's a bonus from your friendly hostess. You do NOT have to construct an intricate grid if you don't feel like it, and you don't have to ask your family or pets to start posing for you in the back of a grid.

But you could have fun. It'd certainly enhance your drawing skills. Since it's not cheating.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Drawing on the right side of the brain - the viewfinder, take 2

Do you have your viewfinder built yet? A piece of overhead transparency or plexiglass that you have attached to some cardboard to make it stiffer.

Now is time to put it in practice. So you have a transparent page. Draw a line midway through the top with your permanent marker, to divide the top in half top and do the same to the other

Repeat those lines on your drawing pad, cut it in half to end up with 4 sections.

Pick something not too intricate for your drawing today. You could pick your hand if you're not sick of it yet, or another object,
If you choose your left hand, position the viewfinder on top of your hand which is turned over with the fingers facing up.
If you pick an object, place your viewfinder so that your object sits in the middle of the viewfinder.

Close one eye. (Not both!!!!) By closing one eye, you flatten the depth of field that is achieved with our two eyes seeing at the same time. It then becomes easier to render on a flat surface what you see with one eye, which tends to flatten what you see.

With a NON permanent marker, like a sharpie, start drawing ON the viewfinder. Draw what you see. Cheating? OK. Call it what you want, that's the exercise for today, lol.

Use the lines splitting the viewfinder to guide you to reproduce the SHAPES and angles that you see on the viewfinder. on your paper. Using your right mode of drawing, you are reproducing shapes and spaces as they appear in relation to the various lines through the viewfinder.

When your drawing ON the viewfinder is pretty close to your satisfaction, put the viewfinder next to your drawing pad, and reproduce the lines, shapes and angles from the viewfinder on your drawing pad, which is divided into the same lines as the viewfinder.

When you are finished, erase the middle lines on your drawing pad, and assess your drawing against the original.

Remember to date it, and post it on the 'sketchbook project' site.

If you have questions, contact me on

Friday, January 15, 2010

Drawing on the right side of the brain - empty space

This next step is another form of contour drawing, but this time, you will look at your drawing.

It is common practice to choose a pair of shoes with laces for this exercise.

The idea is to imagine that the pair of shoes on your drawing table is bound by a square box. When you are drawing the outline of the shoes, you do so in relation to the square (or rectangle, of course). What you are drawing is not so much a pair of shoes (left brain activity) but rendering on paper the lines as they relate to the side of the box, and between each other.

That space between the laces is NOT a space between the laces, it becomes a rectangle, the laces are another rectangle. You make your drawing by defining the spaces BETWEEN the elements, and engage your right brain.

Seeing the spaces between the elements will help you have accurate proportions, even if you can't draw. That little space where the lace falls over the stripe on your shoe becomes a little triangle. It's easy to define its shape and size.

For the next exercise after you do the shoes, draw your non-drawing hand holding something intricate: a pair of scissors, a flower.

Your book offers more exercises to practice.

Remember to date your drawings.

For the next lesson, you will need to get some pieces of gear. You will need:
- a thick overhead transparency, or
- a very thin piece of plexiglass as can be found on picture frames,
- a permanent marker as used for writing on CDs
- and test another marker that will be erasable.

Have fun!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Drawing on the right side of the brain - pure contour drawing

Yes, pure contour drawing is HARD. Not so much in the doing, but in the letting go. Letting the left brain go. We have been educated and trained to favor the left brain: numbers, writing, organizing, being tidy, following rules.

In right brain drawing, there are no rules, no words, no plan to follow. The left brain hates that and will give you many reasons why you shouldn't do this exercise: it's stupid, dumb. My back hurts. It will look ugly. Drawing's not so important anyway. etc I'm sure you can add your own.

Pure contour drawing is where you have the most chance to experience then practice the shift from left brain processing to the right. The slowness of the drawing pushes the left brain deeper into silence, or 'off'.

Some people's left brain is determined to maintain control and avoid the fear of the unknown. You must reassure your left brain, talk to it. Really! As Betty Edwards writes on page 87: "Tell it you're not going to abandon it, that you're just going to try something."

Further, she writes: 'Make sure you don't permit your left brain to ridicule your contour drawing, saying critical things. Soon, we'll be putting everything together and your drawings will be better than ever.'

Another pure contour drawing you may try is something intricate: crumple up a piece of paper and draw the lines. Or draw your hand holding an intricate object. Put a pair of shoes with laces where you can see it and do a pure contour drawing.

Next, we will do a modified contour drawing, and this is where this current practice will pay off.

You do NOT have to post your pure contour drawings. They are YOUR marks, Betty Edwards calls it a visual representation of the insides of your right brain!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Contour Drawing

Oh, no, please not contour drawings!!!! Arggggh, terrifying, ugly contour drawings.

Ok, so some of you don't know what they are.

What they are is what most MOST artists used to loosen up before they start work. Play, draw.

What they do is practice engaging the right brain, and sending the left brain on a little job, like ... far away.

Here's what you do.
Tape your drawing paper on your table. Put your pencil at a starting point on a page. Then turn away from your paper. You will be drawing your hand. This is what it will look like, taken from your book.

Draw your hand.
The point is not to draw pretty. Or to draw a likeness. the point is to draw the edges, to train your eye to SEE. Because you've never really looked.
Draw all the little details, the little wrinkles and folds. Get absorbed in your hand.
You are doing this very slowly. You can set a timer for at least 20 minutes. Move your eye slowly around your hand, the same speed you're drawing.

You may be tempted too, or your left brain will trick you. But you'll ruin the practice and have to start over. So don't cheat.

Betty Edwards say this is THE MOST IMPORTANT EXERCISE in the entire course.

It will NOT look pretty. It WILL look like spaghetti soup. Or chicken scratchings. Except worse.

The whole point is to train your eye and your brain to SEE again, and to get your hand to do that.

I look forward to lots of noodle soup. 'tis the right season for it. Yummmm.

I love all those left-brainers saying: this is completely crazy. You can't learn to draw like this. This is for children.

Actually, children don't NEED this exercise, because they can still see. They don't have any preconceived idea or image of what a hand 'should' look like.

But I promise you that this exercise will lead you to start drawing amazing, realistic hands.

Off you go!

DRSOB viewfinder

In this lesson, we are going to make a viewfinder.

But first, I'd like to tell you a story. I'm sure you know what a viewfinder looks like, and you've probably seen artists use them in art school. They are this little cardboard cut out that allows you to see only a small part of the landscape or picture you want to draw. Most viewfinders also have a grid that allows you to reproduce proportions exactly.

When I was learning to paint with watercolors, a lifetime ago, we used a grid to reproduce the horse that was our model. I did a fantastic horse. Well, of course! I thought I was not drawing it, because I was using the grid.

"That's not drawing, that's cheating!" So that was the last of my self-directed attempts, since it wasn't really drawing, you know.

Well, guess what!!! It IS drawing!!! As I discovered 2 years ago. Yep, it took me that long.
Here's the story.

My great-grand uncle is Paul Chabas, who painted September Morning, displayed below.

If you'd like to know more about the story and the scandal that surrounded this painting, it's available here:

By a strange twist of fate, my step-sister came by a lot of Paul Chabas drawings and study photos. And what did she find as well?

Something particularly rare and precious: this photographic study of a young lady posing for the painting. How cool is that! (No, we don't know who she is.)

But then, look at what else we have:

A grid on a photographed study of the painting!!!!

He made a small study, then used a grid to enlarge it to its final size (which is something quite large). And the man belongs to the Academie Francaise, which is the most prestigious art institution in France!!!! So I guess it's ok to use a viewfinder and a grid, to reproduce the world!

So today we are going to build a viewfinder. For the grid, it's easier to use a sheet of transparency paper, something reasonably light, because some of the exercises will require that you balance it on top of your fingers for a while.
You can set the transparency or plexiglass ion a piece of cardboard and glue it to give it rigidity.

You will want to make several at once as you'll be finding this device very useful. Here's the reason why. You will be drawing some sketch marks ON the transparency, and erase them. So if you have several, you'll have a few spares once the first one gets all smeared.

For the grid's lines, you want to use a permanent marker. Draw a box on your page that measures 6.5 by 8.

Divide it in half vertically and horizontally.

Next, we will use the viewfinder to frame your drawings to make them easier to transfer and more accurate.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do I have a little present for you!!!!

Here comes compliment of Vicki Holdwick, who posted it on her blog.

This is a little diversion, to take your right brain on a little journey and give your left brain a pat on the back.
This is NOT part of the course, and you certainly don`t have to watch the video or do the exercise. It`s just a little present from the teacher, only 5 minutes and great fun results for you:

I`m off to go make one.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Upside down drawings in Drawing on the Right side of the Brain

In the workbook, Betty Edwards offers 3 more drawings that you can choose from for your upside down exercise.

I reproduce them here, so that you have more choice.
You can do one, or you can do them all over a few days. It`s excellent practice. Of course, like the other drawing, you will draw this one upside down.

After you finish your drawing, note the`state`you were in while drawing: no naming of parts, but looking at forms, at shapes. Looking at how this line intersect that line.

What you are doing is learning to `see`again. You are learning the relation of lines. You are learning to see EDGES.

Betty Edwards explains in her more recent versions of her book that she finally understood that drawing is seeing.
And it`s about seeing:

- edges
- shapes
- relationships
- lights and shadows
- perception of the whole.

This is what you are now doing...

Remember to post your work on your blog or the sketchbook folder and to date it.

A vase and Igor Stravinsky

Today, we start the Right brain part of the course. Yeah!!!! It`s the most fun!!!!

You will have read in your book all the discussions about the right brain, which is the creative part, the one that recognizes faces and shapes, enjoys music and pictures, but has no words, no critic, no analytical tools.

You`ll find with these exercises a way to become familiar with what Right brain activity looks like. It is a wonderful place, where there is no time, complete silence within. I call it meditation. Hours of no internal dialogue, no inner critic. Silence.

Here`s our first exercise. Download the picture below and make several copies. Note that there is a drawing for RIGHT handers and one for LEFT handers. You know who you are.

The idea, as you may have seen in your book, is to draw the mirror image of the profile, and complete the picture so that it looks like a vase, the side you draw identical to the model.

Print several copies of the drawing that applies to you, so you can do this drawing several times. You`ll improve as you go, but more importantly, you`ll start training your left brain to get out of the way, that the situation is under control, and that it can go for a hike.

Here`s the RIGHT HANDER`S sketch.

And here is the LEFT HANDER sketch:

After this drawing, you can create one yourself. On the left side if you`re right handed, draw the face of a monster: warts, crocked nose, curved chin, etc. Then draw the line at the top and the line at the bottom, and this time, replicate THAT FACE!!!! I`d love to see those drawings!!!!

After you finish these two drawings, here`s another WONDERFUL one. I love this one. I`ve used the format to create drawings that I was unable to replicate because of the LEFT brain.

Briefly, the idea is that you copy a drawing upside down, so that you don`t recognize the parts of the body you`re drawing, saying, with the left brain, this is a sleeve, this is a chair, etc.

The drawing is in your book. I`ll not replicate it. It is a drawing by Picasso, called Portrait of Igor Stravinsky. In my 1989 book, it`s on page 52. I know it`s available in all the books.

It might take you up to an hour to do this drawing. It is incredibly relaxing and soothing.

Just draw the lines in relation to each other, and to the margins of the book, and your paper. Take a full size sheet for this drawing, and take your time. But do it all in one sitting. Or as much as you can in one sitting.

Then date it.


Sunday, January 3, 2010


My doubting students wanted to see a portrait that I have done.... Which is not fair to them, since I have already taken the course. It was 15 years ago, which means that I`ve had lots of practice.

So here she is.... this summer. It took about 4 hours to draw this puppy. Which is why I don`t do it much these days. I used a graphite pen, I`m not sure what the difference is in construction with the regular pencils, bu

Drawing on the right side of the brain - self-portrait

The second step to the progression of this class is to make a portrait of yourself.

WHAT!!!! Forget it, I`m not doing a portrait. No, no, no!!!!

I hear you!!!

You don`t have to show that portrait to anyone. You don`t even have to do it in your sketch book if you want, you can do it on a loose leaf of paper and go hide it somewhere. But make sure you date it first.

Here`s how you do it. Find a mirror to prop on your desk or table. Find a comfortable angle and.... draw away.

Again, we`re using the drawing as a marker of your progress.
I a few weeks time, you`ll be happy to know where you started.

So get your HB pencil, your mirror, get comfortable and draw your face.
Date your portrait.

After this step, we start getting into the `meat` of it and start following her techniques. I`ll post the next class midweek, since some of you are so excited to get going.

Till then, you may want to read the introduction to the book, where she discusses the Right and Left brain specialization. Not essential for the course at this stage.. Just helpful. And it IS called Drawing on the RIGHT side of the brain, but you`ve probably heard a lot about that in recent years.

See you again Wednesday.
You can post your drawing on your blog and leave a comment here, or in the Sketchbook project folder for our drawings.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Drawing pens

To do this class, or to do any sort of drawing, you don't really need that many pencils.

They come in different hardness, from H to B.

H is the hardest, which means that you run the pen across the page and it hardly leaves a mark. B6 or 8 is the softest, like molted graphite, and gets you really dark shading.

To start, get a middle of the road pencil. HB. It will do pretty much everything we need at the start.

Another thing you want is a good eraser.
Well two erasers actually.

The first one is either the little rectangle one, white or, pink, or whatever, good quality eraser. I personally use the one in a pen, because I have a background in business, and those are good for erasing numbers out of financial statements and budgets. And because they're a pen, they don't disappear quite as easily.

The next type of eraser you want is the kneaded eraser. Those are so fabulous. They allow you to make tiny corrections, work on your shades and gradings, and because you can change the shape, it can get into tiny areas that the other ones can't.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drawing on the right side of the brain - Intro

I was reading the 83' version last night. She states herself that she's changed the order of the chapters, and developed the last ones on shadows.

But I'm sure we can figure it out, the exercises are still the same, even if she now has some new pictures, and in the end , she goes into color. We can decide about that part when we get to it.

Since we're still waiting on some books to arrive, maybe we can prepare for it.

If everyone else agrees, I'll come up with some ways to make it fun for all of us (6 so far) to do together.

To prepare, even before you get your book, here's what you could do:

Dedicate one drawing pad for the course. 8.5 x11, or similar format is best. Not too heavy paper, and not watercolor with the deep grooves. You want smooth paper.
In the book, she gives pre-start exercises, to serve as markers of how far you've moved. They are really a prerequisite, and I think they make a lot of sense.

Make sure you can be uninterrupted for about 20 minutes: no phone, no kids, no TV, no dinner on the stove, no art calling to be finished...

The first exercise is to draw a picture of your hand. Huhhh, the one you're not drawing with, that is... Whatever way it's resting on the table or your lap and that is most comfortable for you. It will take 15 minutes or so, so make sure you can stay in that position for that long. You can amend it, erase, but do it in pencil. She recommends 2B as a gentle middle-range. There is no critique or grading on your drawing. Well, not from this class anyway, I don't vouch for your inner critic, but we'll show him/her!!!!

When you're finished, make sure you date your drawing.

I'll start a folder on the site for you to post your drawings, but you really don't have to post these first ones. They will be more as a reference, to see how far you travel.

Do let me know when you receive your book.