I have a friend, a good friend, that fell after Thanksgiving, and has been stuck in a wheelchair since then. He turns 65 today, and her only found out this week that he can even begin to start putting weight on his legs again. Needless to say, he’s been living a sort of prison life for the past few months. Moving within the confines of a space slightly larger than most cells, this man (with a voracious appetite for information) has been forced to live on a diet of Jerry Springer, real crime TV docudramas, and reruns of NCSI. To help alleviate his boredom, and to celebrate his birthday a little, I sent him a little package. Despite conflicts with my local USPS store in the past, I HAD to do a little artwork on the outside of the thing.

I would like to point out that when I mailed this package (at a different USPS office than before) the woman behind the counter didn’t lecture me, rather she asked if I did the artwork, and then complimented me on it. I told her, “You’re much nicer than the clerks on M street.” to which she replied “Oh yea, they got a problem lot down there.” , with a giggle. I told her “You’re right, those people are evil!”, she just laughed and told me to have a nice day.

Hopefully my friend will get his package today, just prior to reading this, as not to ruin the surprise. There’s something going on here, but I can’t explain what, so just enjoy.


Jack, I hope it’s a great 65th, we miss seeing you! Especially now that it’s Lent—

It’s Fish-n-chip Fridays!






So to continue on from my last post, here are more drawings of pretty ladies. I mentioned I was having trouble deciding if I wanted to stick with chalk/graphite or go with markers. I’ll probably just continue to bounce between the two.

For now, here are a few images from recent sessions.





I always love a challenge, and foreshortened poses are nothing but. First, there’s just getting the angle right. One wants to make the person look like they’d be normal if they suddenly stood up. Sometimes you get figures that are built like cartoons, with heads that are too big for their bodies, etc… Second, because of the first challenge you end up spending more time on your base drawing than you’d like, but you still want to finish in the 20 minutes you have during the pose. I’m not one to go back and add things after the model is done, I like to keep things as they were when I was doing them. I think it’s a better representation of what I can do in the time allotted.


I spoke about markers above, and in my previous post, but even in the marker issue there are other things to debate. The process I follow in chalk or marker is basically the same. I start with a pencil drawing, then I go over it with various gray graphites/chalks or markers, then drop in my white highlights, and lastly hit the edges or dark areas again with black marker or charcoal. Anyone familiar with Copic markers (and other brands) know that there’s not one “gray”, there are a range from light to dark and then various hues. There are cool grays, warm grays, neutral grays, and tonal grays- just in the Copic system alone. I usually bring three stages of gray, and two sets; one warm and one cool. I can’t decide which I like better, part of my brain has always preferred the nature of cool grays, Payne’s gray being my favorite color over all others. I find them comforting and gentle, but the argument can be made that warm grays feel more vibrant and alive. This first image is done in warm grays, the second in cool. It’s a hard choice for me, as the warm grays (which tend to lean toward red) blend in with the paper’s rosey/brown a bit more, but the cool grays (and their blue hue) seem to pop from the page more dramatically. If there were a theme to the image, or some sort of context, the decision would be easier. For now, it’s just a preference problem. Thoughts?



Lastly, we’ve all seen the trend of “photo bombing” on the internet, well it happens in drawing too. The last pose of the evening the other night was a reclining one, and people started whizzing about the room to find their ideal spot. I never move, this goes back to my “no bad pose” theory, and how you draw what you get. If you only draw people from the front, then when you have to draw someone from the side or back, you’re screwed. However, one girl decided to sit on the floor, to do a back drawing… right- in front- of- me. I think it’s a bad decision to crane your neck around an object to do a sketch, because your point of view alters. Basically you end up doing one, of two, things… either a bad realistic drawing (because some bits are seen from a different angle than the rest), or a half arsed cubist image (which is essentially the idea of seeing different angles of an object all in the same drawing). I chose to draw what I saw- hence the new internet trend of “drawing bombing”. Well played art student, well played.


Sketch Dump- February

February 22, 2013

It’s that time again, when I parade out my lame attempts from figure drawing sessions that I attend. This month has been a little bit like a Hollywood version of a life drawing class in that all the models have been young, thin, and pretty… gets awfully dull. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the older guys in class, (weird, there seems to be three distinct ages- 65+ then a 20 year gap to the 40s, then another 20 year gap to the college kids- odd, eh?) so I don’t mind seeing pretty, young women in only what God sent them into the world with. Even then— lets mix it up a bit!

Below are a few of the recent efforts, all on colored paper, but I’m constantly trying to decide what I prefer to work in. I bounce between Creatacolors thick drawing leads (which have a nice range of graphite, charcoal, and chalk options) and the paper saturating Copic markers (which are intense, and visually pop off the page). The thing is, both give me the look I want, but in different ways— like two pianists, each can play the piece, but one strikes at the keys while the other taps them. So the question is, do I prefer the stark nature of the markers, or the gentle tones of the graphite/chalk? It may be a practical issue that decides things, as the markers don’t smear or wear off the pages of the sketchbook during transit, where the other does. I haven’t made up my mind, so if anyone has any specific thoughts go ahead and post them.

First up are some old images I found which I can’t remember if I posted or not. Since I’m lazy and don’t date things, I can’t tell when I did them; I know it hasn’t been too long since they’re near the end of the book. These do stand out, because it’s one of the rare times we draped the model. It’s always been a pet peeve of mine with drawing sessions, I know we need to understand the form to know how it will change the fall of cloth over the body, but you have to draw cloth sometimes to know what it does! Sure it has certain tendencies, bit rarely will a person take a pose, drop out of it, and then back into the same pose to have the folds of the cloth repeat the same position; it’s just not that consistent. Yes, the “pinch points” will be at the joints and edges, but how many folds, or how it creases, will change by how the position is set. Seeing that, studying it, is enormously beneficial, and why schools don’t work it into their programs is beyond me. In 99.9% of my career the figures have worn clothes. The .1% that didn’t— well, we won’t mention since it would hurt my political career. Seriously, I draw more jackets than nipples and more slacks than bare bums. Sorry— rant. So here are a couple that I found from that session involving drapery… they’re very “Clash of the Titans”.



So back to my original comment, that the models lately have all been in their mid twenties, in shape, and pretty. Nothing to complain about, but life drawing is meant to challenge you, and to force on to see, and draw, things in a different way, which can be hard when you find yourself repeating things. I mentioned in a previous post, there are not bad poses, so I’m not blaming the models, rather the mind set of classes. It’s a catch-22, you want people to attend,  to have sessions that appeal to people who aren’t professionals, but (sadly) it also appeals to middle aged men who want to see naked women. Lets be honest here- because I know one guy who only draws if the model is thin and pretty, for he seems to chat and eat a lot of snack food when it’s a guy, they’re older, or the model is on the heavy side. I admit, pretty girls in the nude… well, I’m a bloke, I’m pre-programmed that way; but I love a challenge. I like having to take what most people don’t find appealing and make it attractive, or to find the beauty where others miss it. I like the challenge of folds, wrinkles, man bits, etc… but, that’s not to say I want those all the time either. The thing is to mix it up, men, women, fat, thin, old, young, tall, short, apple, pear, pole- doesn’t matter, but lets represent!

Be that rant as it may, here are some nice drawings of young, thin, girls— who never seem to let their hair down. I will admit, though, I did like this girl’s braided hair.





Just in case anyone was wondering, here is a scan of from one of my books so you can get a sense of scale. I work on small pads, rather than the spiral bound billboards a lot of people bring in to draw on. Anyone who has seen my original comic work knows I draw on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. I like that size, because it’s easier to see a page as a complete thing, and it keeps me from getting bogged down in too much detail. I was talking with another artist at the session and it dawned on me, it probably has something to do with the fact I grew up drawing on notebook paper (as most kids do), so I suppose there’s a bit of a comfort zone built in as well. You can see the spirals of the notebook at the top of this one, which I think is 5×7, or 7×5- depending on how you hold it. ;¬P



More to come next week- with less complaining, and more drawings.

The USPS in DC suuuuuucks!

February 13, 2013

Today I attempted to send a package to my friends in London (he’s from there, she’s from here), and as you may remember, when I send a package, I tend to put artwork on the front of them to encourage the mail carriers to treat them with a bit more respect. Apparently, that doesn’t extend to the jerks who work at the 1800 M St. branch of the postal service in DC; specifically to the thing behind the counter who looks like she ate Jabba the Hut, and is about as pleasant to talk to. According to her the USPS doesn’t like having “advertising” on the outside of packages, despite the countless boxes they deliver for Amazon.com and other businesses. After informing her that it was actually a “personalized greeting”, that I’ve mailed tons of packages from that specific branch (all of which have been decorated), and even recently a box of Twinkies to London (after the pastry company called it quits), but that no one has ever mentioned this “rule”, I was informed via a berating (I can only describe as “dog speak”) that “Yea, well things change!”. I’m so sure that’s how it’s referred to in USPS regulations, not by a code or anything.

I’m a little concerned that the people teaching USPS employees the difference between “hand drawn greetings” on the front of a package and “advertising”, are the same people teaching the security guards at the National Gallery the difference between “wet paint” and a “pencil”. I want to be there when that same clerk yells at a little girl, telling her that she can’t draw a flower on her package to her grandma in Paris, because it’s “advertising”. I would think if you worked in a place where you saw brown box, after brown box, and letter after letter, that something with the pic below would be a welcome diversion. Maybe that’s the issue? They’re too distracted? If that’s the case, then tell the thousands of mail carriers who take until 9pm to deliver the four pieces of junk mail I get (since no one sends cards and letters anymore) to remove the Borg phone implants and iPlugs out of their ears, get their job done, and to stop worrying about my drawings for mom. I seriously doubt that the financial problems of our postal system really come down to my “advertising” art.