The idea started with our figure drawing organizer and dear leader. Susan thought we should do a group art show. That our lovely model, KC, should pose for us. And that the theme would be "after Degas"- ie, ballerinas.

This presented me with a problem- I love problems. Problems are like puzzles that need solving. They are motivational. So I was happy I had this problem.

My problem was that 1. I do not like to paint impressionistically. 2. I have just begun to wrap my brain around painting figures... sans clothing. Unless our ballerinas were going to be naked... {unlikely} ... I was going to have to practice with some tule.

Part 1. of The Problem was solved by ignoring it. I don't paint in Degas' style, so tough cookies for Degas. I'm doing things my way.

Part 2. was solved when our beloved model lent me one of her tutu layers for me to take home and study. YES! Score!

Here are some sketches and studies I made while coming up with my compositions. Note: each sketch was completely in 30 minutes or less in front of our model. Some of them I liked as simple drawings and nothing more, so I let them be. Others I decided to play around with, and those are the ones that made it into paintings.

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more later...


So last night was the one year birthday of the little figure drawing club I go to on Monday nights, and to celebrate we made some of these new-fangled artist trading card thingies and we traded them. I don't actually know if artist trading card thingies ARE new-fangled. They might be old-fangled, and I'm just recently fangling them when everyone else on the planet has fangled artist trading cards for ages.

I am commonly behind on the fangle trends.

So anyway, these are the cards I made!

And here are a few close-ups.

Have you ever noticed that a change of medium can totally change your perspective on things? For instance, I discovered that sketching on a 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" card is a great way to fill up a completely composed space in a half hour or so.

Now that my cards are made, I find myself missing the creation of them. Maybe I need to pull out the sketchbook and return to this smaller size. Or maybe I need to make another dozen or so cards.

At any rate, it was a mightily satisfying experience. No wonder some artist like to work small.


{secret hover-text messages edited by Moose. All secret hover-text is secret. Shh. Loose lips sink ships. Maurice El Torres likes Cathi Finnigan, pass it on.}

Dürer's name sounds like something I say to my dog when she walks into walls.

Then again, I could be pronouncing it incorrectly. I recently learned that Van Gogh isn't pronounced "Van-Go", it's pronounced "Vun-Hucgh"... emphasis on the phlegmy bits. Anyway. Dürer was still a mighty fine artist. One of my favorites, actually. And sometimes I like to make a copy of my favorites so that I can get an idea of what it's like to draw like them.

[note: the meaning of the word "copy" is pretty loose here. It's more like "inspired by" or "attempt to resemble" or "sorta looks like it if you squint and turn your head a little"]

Another advantage of copying a favorite is that you now have your own duplicate of [or in this case, something somewhat similar to] your favorite drawing.

Note: Dürer's fine and fiddly strokes. They're exactly perpendicular to each other, evenly spaced and perfectly balanced.

Note: My impatient scribbling. It kinda has the same effect. If I pretend.

I like to pretend.

Here they are full size.

As you can see, I became restless after seven strokes of the white charcoal on his beard and went on to play with something shiny. Yay! It's done!

So what did I learn? I learned that to make something good into something outstanding, you have to be patient. You have to be willing to do the fiddly work. And also, Dürer must have had incredible fine motor skills, his lines are perfect.

I also had a lightbulb moment in regards to cross hatching and texture, particularly in the skin of his hand, the wrinkles on his forehead, and the threads of his cap. Had I not sat down and forced myself to look at each of his strokes, I would not have noticed these things.

So, despite what that paranoid little voice in your head tells you, you should definitely be copying the masters. That doesn't mean you're forging their images and trying to pass them off as your own. That's just silly. What it does mean is that you are learning from people who have gone before you and perfected their craft. There is so much to gain from that.

UPDATE: I just watched this video and found out that Dürer's name is pronounced Doo-Rur... which doesn't sound much like what I say to my dog. My apologies to Albrecht.

Sketches, Eve Young, and the Library of Congress

I'm nocturnal. My family, being made of normal people, are all... uh... day-turnal. They like sunlight. My body wakes up at the same time their bodies do, but my brain isn't fully functioning until around lunchtime. My best time of day is when the sun goes down. Suddenly I'm a monument of productivity. Suddenly I want to paint and sketch. Suddenly there are no people around for me to paint and sketch because they are in bed. I can draw in bed, but my husband says it's weird and I need to knock it off because he can't sleep with that light pointed at him.


So I do a lot of drawings when the sun is up and I'm only partially conscious, and also a lot of drawings from photos when it's dark and there are less people. I really prefer to draw living, breathing people. You'd think it would be easier to draw a photo, it doesn't move. And in some ways, that's true. But my better drawings are all done from life. I can't explain it.

So I won't.

You can't make me.

Anyway. What I sat down to tell you has nothing to do with my sleeping habits, I was going to tell you that the Library of Congress has a mighty fine Flickr stream. It is a treasure trove of reference photos to sketch when you're wanting to sketch and yet no one is awake and they unscrewed and hid all the lightbulbs in their bedrooms, also it's hard to aim a flashlight and draw at the same time.

When that happens, you can head over to the LOC Flickr stream and pick a photo of a person, a boat, a horse or whatever it is you want to draw and draw it. The Library of Congress does not complain. It does not throw pillows at you. It is the perfect model.

Eve Young, taken January of 1947 by William Gottlieb who wrote "Chanced upon Eve Young & Jack Pleis breaking bagels at midcity restaurant day after they lost their canvas because of Benny Goodman tentfolding." on the back of the photo. I don't know what canvas they lost, or why Benny Goodman's tentfolding cost them the lost canvas, but she seems happy about it, so I'm ok with that.

Awesome Sketchbook Pro is Clean, Simple and Awesome.

Q. Who likes getting out all of her drawing supplies to practice sketching!?

A. Not me! Not me! YAY!

I have a confession. I'm not exactly an organized person. When I'm not using something, I put it where it belongs... on my desk. There are a lot of supplies I'm not using at the moment.

It's a good thing I have a big desk.

The problem is that when I want to use something, I have to pull it out (from underneath the pile of things I'm not using) and then I have to find space to use it, and then I have to put it away.

Hoosh. I'll clean my desk later.

Actually, there are some things that I love about drawing on physical paper with actual pencils. The texture of the paper especially. I love the way it feels and looks... I love holding it at different angles and under different light.

But for everyday practice, for quick sketches to keep my brain sharp, sometimes I'm just not in the mood to fill up space in my sketchbook or use up my pastel paper on drawings of a chair or copies of an old sketch by Durer or Rockwell. (I pick my artists randomly. Somewhat.) Nor do I relish wading through the mounds of things on my desk.

It's why I love sketching with my Wacom tablet so much. And since Christmas, it's why I'm totally in love with Sketchbook Pro 2011. Check it out:

I just found this video on Youtube. And trust me, it only touches on what you can do with the program. I especially love how easy it is to make your own brushes... genius!

In the past I've used the GIMP for drawing. And I will continue to use it for photo manips and maybe graphic design work and whatnot. There are some things sketchbook pro doesn't have, like layer masks.

But it doesn't really need that.

Trust me.

This is strictly a drawing program. It has brushes, pens, and pencils... WITH! Pen pressure sensitivity! AND it has unlimited layers, a few effects (like multiply and screen), and it does all of this really, really well.

Imagine going to a hamburger joint. It's famous for it's gourmet burgers and toppings. People from all over the world go to this joint because they do one thing really well- burgers.

You wouldn't go to a place like that and ask for a broiled salmon... that would be stupid. It would taste marginal at best, and their hamburgers wouldn't taste as heavenly because the top chef would be wasting his time making fish for shmucks like you who go to a hamburger joint and ask for salmon. Fortunately, you're smart and you order a burger. One with roasted garlic and chipotle sauce. Mmm.

Now the chef can concentrate on being a master burger builder and we all love him for it.

Sketchbook Pro is like that. It's brilliant. It's simple. It does one thing.

It makes burgers.

Ha! Not really. It makes sketches. Well, no, YOU make the sketches, it helps you make them awesome.

Actually, I've discovered that a lot of the work I do with Sketchbook Pro ends up being some of my favorite stuff. I've even found a print company for making my digi drawings into physical copies.

The only thing I don't like about it is that I can't pick it up and take it with me to the park or the museum. I tried, once. But my desktop likes being tethered to the wall. And I couldn't get the wall to budge.

Walls are stubborn like that.

It's not really the software's fault that walls are stubborn... matter of fact, if you aren't like me and you have an iPad or some other tablet, then you can get this. Nice.

{By the way, I don't work for the Sketchbook Pro peeps, they haven't a clue who I am. Which is probably lucky for them, cause I'd be all over them asking for freebies. BUT! If you click on that Amazon link up there and end up buying Sketchbook Pro from Amazon, Amazon will give me a tip for the buy. It doesn't cost you any more or less to buy it through the link, so thank you very much if you do.

Hey, I could use the cash. I've recently learned that I need an iPad.}

Sketch Book Diaries

I guess you could say I've been teaching myself art backwards. According to my friends who are teachers or who have been students in ateliers and expensive art-colleges, I'm supposed to be an expert at drawing before I even pick up a paintbrush.

Also, I'm supposed to work in limited palettes before I go all crazy with the colors.

There are very good reasons for doing it their way. And a part of me wishes I knew that that was how I was supposed to be doing things before I spazzed out and started slinging paint.

Another part of me knows that a slower, methodical pace would have bored me. And made me give up before I had a chance to appreciate what I was learning.

Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm self-taught, and the way I've learned is the way I've learned. And also the way I'll continue learning. Nothing to be done about it now except move forward.[gallery link="file" order="DESC"]

SO! That said, lately I've been studying figures, portraits, still lifes and all that jazz. I've been copying other artists (in my sketchbooks, of course, and with notations. Don't get all crazy on me.) and I've been filling my books with figure drawings.

And that's why I haven't been posting too much finished work these past couple of months. (though that's soon to change...)

lil hummer sketch

HummerSketch you know the drill, see the drawing by clicking below the fold...

For some reason the old embedded odosketch drawing posts aren't working any more. It's been that way since they updated things. If you want, you can still see all of my drawings by going here.

sick Tiger

sick tiger quick sketch of my cat sleeping. She had just had surgery and was wearing a sweater to keep her feeding tube in place. She's much better now, but really looked terrible then. I spent a lot of time just watching her and making sure she stayed healthy.


Summer means lots of time around the beach and whatnot. The sketchbooks been getting a workout lately. 3 minute booty sketch

couple of my birds

Geometric deer