Daily Sketch #17: Who the hell is that guy?


The problem with committing to 30 consecutive daily sketches is that sooner or later you’re going to run into a truckload of bad. Today, I got run over.

This isn’t a self-conscience thing, although deep down I’m sure there’s some of that, but rather it was just an off night. Or the fact that I’ve only done one portrait in the past, and it looked a lot better than this one. It was also done over the course of 3 hours, not 35 minutes. Enough with the excuses. I present to the viewing public “self portrait”.

I can honestly say that while this looks nothing like me, once again I learned a lot in a short time thanks to the rigors of daily sketch. Proportional sketching when it comes to still life and landscapes can be a lot more forgiving than drawing a face. The slightest swerve to the left, right, up or down and something won’t look right. It’s a very unforgiving endeavor. I did enjoy the process of getting the parts about right, but just not the proper positioning. In the end, the Mr Potato Head result is not something to frame, but it will be a fun one to revisit with more time to spare and see what kind of result can be had.

Daily Sketch #16: Alaskan Ice


Today’s sketch is an Alaskan Glacier. The actual photo has these brilliant aqua blue colors against the white snow. But it also has this very carved and complex blocks of shading throughout, which makes a sketch very challenging. Also a good test on perspective and how to give the impression of distance without using any real clear reference point in the sketch. Hoping you get the sense of sheer size of the glacial wall.

Daily Sketch #14: “On Belay”


Inspiration for today’s sketch is El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Another reference photo from a very memorable trip a few years ago. I actually did a sketch at the site en plein air while we had a picnic and watched the climbers work their way up the wall, so small I can’t even find them on the reference photo. Amazing feats of strength. Look out Festivus, here they come!

Even as a quick sketch – took about 90 minutes – I learned some interesting techniques that I was too inexperienced to consider when I first attempted this drawing. First, the simple long sketch lines naturally help define the contour and direction of the granite face, which means this is one of the rare occasions that you don’t have to worry too much about “hiding” a mass of disorganized sketch lines. Secondly, the challenge of value transitions from the light side to the shaded side is not as straight forward as it looks. The reference photo throws you off b/c it’s not accurate, but I didn’t figure that out until I had a black and white cookie on the paper instead of a iconic rock mountain. In other words, the shadow side has more variations than what it appears to have in the photo. But most importantly, the random cracks and crevices that aren’t in the shade can easily be worked too dark, which makes them jump to the front of the sketch, so I had to use a lesser value by about 2-3 scales to ensure those areas stayed tucked into the rock face instead of looking like they were dark bumps popping onto the surface.

This is one of those projects that I could stay glued to for hours. The complexity of the rock face is a fun challenge, and would be a fantastic drawing on a much larger scale (this sketch is on 9″x12″). I’ve also come to realize that compositions like this are probably much more interesting with graphite instead of paint.

Daily Sketch #13: Giverny bamboo


Please excuse the hasty sketch today. This is the non-lily pad part of Giverny. The whole place is amazing, despite the crowds, and it’s easy to overlook this reflective pond bathed in green bamboo, green underbrush, and green boats – trust me, its a lot. The pond reflections of the bamboo are more detailed than the actual real bamboo b/c the angle of reflection reveals a larger swath. Needless to say I ignored that reality in this quick sketch. Hope the spirit of the place conveys despite the roughness.

Daily Sketch #11: French countryside calm


Today’s sketch inspired by my wife and our anniversary trip to the French countryside in the romantic Loire Valley region. The light was very strong from the right side of the sketch, so the shadows were very pronounced, as was the coming storm, which never materialized by the way. The rose bushes in the foreground are testers – not part of the actual reference photo, but rather a suggestion from my wife in hopes of adding some bright color to the soon-to-be painted version. Never sketched a rose bush before, but I think it’s a great addition to the sketch.

Daily Sketch #9: Frankenhand


Didn’t have the time on Friday night to sketch for long, nor post, so it’s a day late. So this is the not-so-great result. That said, it’s still practice, albeit under the influence of a couple of cocktails and being very sleepy. The real merit of this sketch is that it was done one handed b/c this is my actual left hand as the model. Might come back to this one some day soon to see how it can be improved. Its ugly, but it was fun to do.

Daily Sketch #8: Magnolia flower meal plan


Always fun to try and sketch something white using black graphite. This white magnolia flower is from my backyard last summer. The bees were having a field day. I decided to add them into the sketch last minute and I’m glad they did. I just wanted to see how hard it would be to include a few bees, but they ended up adding improved depth to the sketch. After sketching this flower I’ve decided to add it to my painting lineup, probably using a painting knife to add cool texture.

The darker shading was done using a 2B with light pressure. Everything else is an HB.

Daily Sketch #7: My Dog’s Life


Today’s sketch is one of my dogs, Boom, curled into his comfy dream ball position. Always amazes me that a 60 pound dog can curl up like this. This is a 20 minute sketch done from the couch. I had to go fast because despite how soundly he sleeps, mind you he’s deaf, he has a creepy sixth sense that tells him when he’s being stared at. Invariably, when I try to draw him, he always moves before I have enough on he paper to improvise. Tonight, however, he waited long enough for me to get the outline down, after which he only moved his head a few times.

Boom is all black, so the use of hair direction and basic values was important to make this work. I’m happy with it as a quick sketch b/c it really captures the essence of Boom curled in a ball. I tried this a year ago and it didn’t go well, which reminded me that it can be rewarding to go back to an old subject and see if it’s easier the second time around.

The outline was done with an HB pencil; everything else was 2B.

SAD #5: Quick spin on the Carousel


Apologies for the poor photo quality. Sketch time was short today. This is a future painting project, so wanted to use SAD as a way to start gauging the composition. There is a very light reflection in the water, but nowhere near the time commit today to do anything more than a squiggly outline of the carousel in the water.