Color Explorations Class – Continuing with Oils

When I arrived early for class, Emily had already placed my canvas on a table top easel for me.  She suggested I paint the background first before touching the peppers.  I used Burnt Sienna with a mixture of purple (created with red and blue) and painted the background.  Now, I was beginning to see my peppers pop out a bit.  

I continued to work on my peppers adding the medium values.  I was mixing variations of yellow/orange for the left pepper, greens for the middle pepper, and reds for the right pepper.  

Here’s the results of my evening’s work:


Parts of my peppers still look flat.  Still need to work on creating and painting the different values.  That will be Friday’s task.

I did as much as I could painting the medium values and had to stop to let it dry.  I was one of two students to finish early.  Emily suggested we prime our acrylic panels to use for tomorrow night’s class.  She prepared a Burnt Sienna wash and I grabbed a brush and lightly brushed the paint over the panel.  I think I’ve got the hang of this.  I was able to see my rough sketch of the peppers on my panel.  

My take away from class:  enjoy painting with oils even though it takes a loooong time to dry.  Need to get up and stand a few feet away from my painting and look at what I’ve painted.  I do see a different perspective and what’s missing in my painting (e.g. depth, contrast, etc).

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

The Start of Another Art Class: Color Explorations – Working with Oils

Before my next art class started I received an email suggesting I bring photos to work from.  If I did not have any, the art center would have some available.  We are supposed to be working with three mediums:  oils, acrylics, and pastels.  Should be a long, but interesting week.  

We are having class on the second floor of the art center.  It’s an open room with tables setup in the middle.  I see there are suppose to be a total of six students taking the class.  I strategically pick a seat at a corner of the table and not in the middle.  Since we’ll be working with several mediums including painting I want to make sure I have enough elbow room.  

I brought two photos with me.  One was a coneflower and the other was the infamous habanero peppers from Grand Cayman.  On instinct, I selected the pepper picture to use during class.  I wasn’t too sure how much time we would spend on each medium and so I thought peppers could be quickly drawn.  

I was watching the other younger students pick out landscape scenes that include beaches and mountains.

Our art instructor tonight was Emily.  She also taught the Drawing Explorations class I took back in May.  

We were given sketch paper (8×10) and told to do a rough sketch of our photo.  Once that was completed we had to flip our paper over and cover most of paper with graphite.  Ahhhh…we are going to trace our design onto our canvas.  Clever.

I carefully placed my sketch paper over my 8×10 canvas and drew the outlines of my peppers.  Here’s what I ended up with:  


Next, Emily did a demonstration on how to prime our canvas with a light brushing of burnt sienna and a small mix of walnut alkyd (thins the paint and increases drying time).  Like giving the canvas a good light wash of color.  That way we are not staring at a white canvas.  So merrily I went with my brush across my canvas only to find that it was not a light brushing I produced.  I guess I have a heavy hand tonight.  I could barely see the outlines of my peppers.  No worries.  I know these peppers very well and could probably draw them with my eyes closed.  

Our first official instruction was to paint the dark values first.  Emily showed us how to mix the colors from the standard tubes we were given.  We were using M. Graham oil paints.  In our set was the basic Ultramarine Blue, Naphthol Red, Azo Yellow, Titanium White, and Pthalo Green.  The paint consistency is very smooth.  There was also tubes of brown available for us to use.  M. Graham paints are walnut-oil based and are non-toxic.  Solvent free.  Very much artist quality. Interesting.   

I grabbed some Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and mixed a dark color for the shadows under and around the peppers.  For the shadows, I added some color to give a slight reflection of color under each pepper.  Once done, I squinted at my peppers to find their dark values.  I saw a dark green with blue, dark orange with a bit of red, and dark purple with some red.  I mixed my colors and made sure I had enough so I could complete the peppers.  

I worked the dark values over the peppers.  Before I knew it, it was time to clean up before class ended for the night.  We dipped our brushes into the walnut oil and cleaned out as much paint as we could.  Then we went over to the sink and used Dawn detergent to get the remaining paint out of the brushes.  

Unfortunately, my painting looked a bit weird/wonky and I forgot to take a picture of it at this stage.  

My take away from class:  the walnut oil is used to remove color from the brushes and also increases the flow and slows the drying process of the paint.  The walnut alkyd medium thins the color and accelerates the drying and enhances the adhesion between layers.  It also increases surface sheen.  Must remember to go lightly with the initial wash of color over the canvas.  

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

Playing with Pastels

I think I have found a new art medium that is just as much fun as drawing with graphite.  I was looking for another art medium where I can work with colors.  Something that I could cover the large areas of paper.  Quickly and easily.  PASTELS!

I was looking online and found an inexpensive set of pastels.  I am a person who firmly believes “you get what you paid for”, but I found a really good deal on a set of 24 Prismacolor Nupastel sticks for under $12.

So, I gave them a try.  All I can say is Wow!


I worked on layering the colors.  I actually went from light to dark values on this apple and then applied some white for the highlights.


Does this look familiar?


Remember I had taken a picture of a still life from class (drawing explorations)?   I have been using it when I practice with different art mediums.

I had an enjoyable time using the Nupastels.  More to come!

Paper used:  Kona toned paper (11″ x 14″)

A Few Practice Drawings

I took a picture of a floral pitcher that I had sitting on my mantle.  It was the shape of the pitcher more than the floral design on it that spoke to me and said “draw me”.  Well, the floral design was keeping me from drawing the darker tones of the pitcher correctly.  So I squinted.  Oh, there’s a shadow on the handle.  You get the picture.

Here’s my graphite interpretation:


Then I decided that I needed a charcoal version of the pitcher.  I squinted some more and produced this:


I left the charcoal lines in this drawing to show the contrast better.  Otherwise, I would have smeared it to soften between the light and dark areas.

Before I decided to take a class this year, I was making a few attempts at drawing.  Here’s a barrel done in graphite:


I have always been fascinated with pictures of glassware.  I never thought I would venture into drawing it.  I studied a few pictures I took over the years and figured it could not be too hard to draw.  Kind of like draw what you see.  Right?

With that in mind, here’s my rendering from my picture:


I still need quite a bit of practice with drawing perspectives and mostly with circles and ovals.  The only way to conquer this is to keep drawing and learning.

Papers used:  Canson sketch paper

Peppers Anyone?

My plan is to draw/sketch from the many pictures I have taken in the Caribbean.  I have too many to count in my stack of “to draw in the future”.  Many of them are landscape pictures from the beautiful beaches I have visited and some are from my snorkeling adventures.  I will eventually draw all my favorites.  I draw from my own pictures that way I do not have to worry about copyrights.

In the meantime, here’s a drawing of peppers from a market in Grand Cayman:


When I first saw these peppers, I was drawn to how they were displayed, the odd numbers in the group, and the brilliant colors.  It is hard to visualize the colors when the drawing above shows only my graphite pencil.  Here’s a picture of my source photo with my drawing:


Remember I had mentioned in a past post about re-drawing favorite still life or scenes?  I have a feeling this photo will be reused for other future drawing experiments.

Paper used:  Canson sketch paper

Personal Drawings: A Tropical Fish

I’m in a lull where I’m not taking any art classes for a few weeks.  I am making a point to practice during the evenings and on weekends.  Time permitting.  I have a lot of photos that I have taken and I have spent some time going through them.  The ones I have selected to draw, I have them printed on my Epson printer on 5″x7″ photo paper.  This size paper is big enough to see the details and still small enough that I can stick it on the corner of my drawing board while I sketch/draw.  The 4″x6″ photo paper is too small to see any details, but I will print a few of this size for quick references and they are small enough to carry in my purse for when I want to draw-on-the-go.

I have a lot of tropical fish pictures I have taken from my snorkeling adventures in the Caribbean.  I thought today would be a good time to get out my graphite pencils and do a drawing of a Blue Tang:


Drawing with graphite pencils is my first choice and favorite art medium to use.  I do like to experiment with color and I am still learning to use my color pencils.  I am also glad to have had the opportunity to experiment with color pencils in my Drawing Explorations class back in May.  I thought it would be a great idea to redraw my Blue Tang drawing in color:


This drawing is still a work in progress.

Here’s another drawing in the works:


Papers used:  Canson Sketch paper

Day 3: Charcoal Drawing – Fabric & Folds

Anna had promised us we would be drawing fabric.  She was not kidding.  She started the class off with warm-up drawing exercises.  We had a 2 minutes to draw each of the four (4) different fabric drapes on her dress form.  Anna draped fabric on the dress form and waited for us to finish our drawing.  She then switched the fabric around and we continued from there.

Here’s my version of the warm-up exercises:


For our still life project, Anna placed a dress on her dress form.  She carefully planned out the folds.  We also worked from standing easels and taped our papers to a backing board.  I rearranged my easel a few times to figure out what was comfortable standing position and composition (view) of the dress form.  See, I am learning.

We picked out our charcoal supplies and brought them back to our easel.  It did not take long for me to start drawing the dress.

I love fashion.  One of my past hobbies used to be sewing.  Not just pillows and sewing hems on my pants, but sewing clothes for myself.  I love the feel of different fabrics (just like I enjoy touching and feeling the different artist papers).  So being able to draw fabric is very close to my heart.

For my next drawing I used vine charcoal to do a rough sketch and outline of the still life.  I then used the compressed charcoal to darken and deepen the folds of the dress and also  to create the ruffles around the neckline.  To get the softer look, I used vine charcoal and the cottony paper towel to soften the look.


Anna is really pushing the creative side of my brain.  I am also raising the bar a bit for the class without them knowing it.  I can see the huge improvements from other students  from the beginning of this week’s class to now.

Tomorrow night, we are in for a surprise.  Can’t wait!

Paper used:  Strathmore (300 series) drawing paper

My take away from class:  do loose warm-up drawings and mostly enjoy myself while I draw.

Day 2: Charcoal Drawing & Fearless Drawing

It was the second night of class and once again I was reminded not to bring anything.  All the supplies would be provided.  It did not take long for me to get used to that idea.  Go with the flow.

Before our class started, Anna showed us some some tools and tips she used when working with charcoal.  One was to use a black triangle erase made by Prismacolor Scholar to remove charcoal.  For blending charcoal, she showed us how to use a cottony paper towel to lighten the edges and soften the charcoal.

I learned later while shopping at my local Walmart that Viva makes this wonderful paper towel.  You can get a single roll of it for under $2.  It’s also available at my local grocery store and also at Target.  It’s pricey, but it works brilliantly and it’s use goes a long way.  The biggest plus for me, no more black fingers from blending.  Now…back to the class.

Tonight’s class was a pivotal moment for me.  When I first learned to draw I was horrified with looking at a blank sheet of paper and not knowing where to start.  Tonight, I struggled with choosing an object to draw.  Anna had placed several objects on a table.  She told each student to grab one or more objects for our lesson tonight.  I gravitated to a furry stuffed white bear.  What?  Am I crazy?  The bear was really, really cute.

Tonight we learned to draw just the shadows.  I sat my bear on my table and Anna came by and placed a light over my bear.  I squinted.  Nothing.  I squinted again and a third time for good measure.  Still nothing.  I see cute a white bear.

Anna quickly came by to check on me as she noticed  my hands were not moving across the charcoal paper I selected.  Do we have a problem?  Yes, my bear is too cute.  Hahaha!  Yes, that did the trick to lighten the air a bit.

Anna asked the basic and simple question.  Do you see any shadows at all?  Yes, the darkest one behind the bear.  Good.  What else do you see?  I see lighter shadows on the bear’s belly, etc.  You need to be fearless when you draw.  Oh.  That’s what I needed to hear.

I present to you my white bear charcoal drawing:


Cute, huh?  I used vine and compressed charcoal.  A little more compressed charcoal this time.  Anna kept reminding me to do less with vine and more with compressed.

Once I get started with a drawing and my brain gets into creative mode, it does not take long for me to finish.  I completed my bear drawing in record time.  Anna stopped by to see the my results and appeared to be happy with my work.

I think you are ready for the next still life.  What?  I have one for you to try.  So Anna grabbed several objects and placed them on my table.  She then moved them around and started to remove a few items.  Here you go.  Remember, you need to be fearless.  Off she went to help another student.

I made several attempts (false starts I called them) and erased them and then finally started to draw.

It was a matter of creating the darkest shadows (shapes) first and then going back and drawing in the lighter shadows and shapes.  Here’s the results of my next drawing:


For those of you wondering, it’s a tin cup with cherries spilling out.

I realized afterwards that I was so focused on drawing the object (roundness of tip cup) that it became difficult for me get the right size and perspective.  Hence the false starts.  I changed my focus and started to look for the darkest shadows and then the lighter shadows.  Once I accomplished that, the still life objects started to take life and shapes started to appear.

What a fantastic learning experience I had that night.  I was fearless!

Anna…thank you!

Paper used:  Bear artwork on Strathmore charcoal paper.  Tin cup artwork on Strathmore drawing paper.

My take away from class:  be fearless in drawing.  Squinting.  Dark values.

Day 1: Charcoal Drawing – Still Life

After our quick warm-up sketches, we were ready to draw from still life objects.  I chose a table with bottles.  Anna had some paper choices available.  I selected a piece of charcoal paper.  It had an interesting texture or tooth to it.

Here’s my drawing from class:


Can you see the paper’s texture or tooth in my drawing?  Look at the bottles and the lines.  In this drawing, I used a combination of vine and compressed charcoal.  I used my finger and blended areas to give a softer look.  The vine charcoal does a better job at blending.  I need to figure out how to blend the compressed charcoal better.  For now, this new art medium is a work in progress.

I have to say that I had a fun first night in class.  It was quite messy, but I learned a new technique in charcoal drawing.  Looking forward to what tomorrow night will bring.

Paper used:  Strathmore (300 series) Charcoal paper (laid)

My take away from class:  to be bold with charcoal and to use compressed charcoal more.

Day 1: Charcoal Drawing – Intro & Warm Up

After dabbling with charcoal in my Drawing Explorations class, I decided to sign up for the Charcoal Drawing class held at the same local art center.  I liked how drawing with charcoal created some of the boldest and darkest lines/shapes I have ever created.  I also was intrigued by how quickly I could cover my drawing paper and created something that was not perfect, but art.  I know that sounds weird, but I tend to draw realistic versus abstract.  As in “what I see” is “what I want to draw”.  Realistically.

I’ve spent many years taking pictures and I have thousands of images.  My goal has been to make drawings from my pictures.  First, I do not have to worry about copyright issues.  The images are mine.  Second, I wanted to try different art mediums.  I tried on my own, but found I had basic skills and wanted to learn more and push myself.  This is where taking art classes come into play.

I was excited about taking this class.  Every night for a week, I would be drawing for a few hours a night.  How cool is that?

I was introduced to Anna, a charcoal artist.  I did not realize until the second night, that this was her first time teaching.  More on that later.

Anna had us do warm up drawing exercises.  We all sat around a table.  Anna had placed an apple in the center of the table.  She gave us instructions on how to draw and then gave us 60 seconds to draw the apple.  After each warm-up exercise, Anna would change the lighting on the apple.  Three warm up exercises later, we had three apples drawn.


We learned to initially draw what we saw.  We then learned to draw shapes based on dark values.  Next we drew just the dark shadows around the apple and the shadows on the apple itself.  Tonight was the night to learn many charcoal drawing techniques.

The last technique we learned was Subtractive drawing.  Basically, I covered my drawing paper with compressed charcoal.  Yes.  I took the flat side of my charcoal and just went back and forth across the paper.  After I had drawn a huge black rectangle, Anna gave me an eraser and told me to draw the apple that was used as a still life display on the table.

I looked at her for help.  She quickly demonstrated on a scrap of paper.  Once I saw what she was creating with an eraser, I set about to do the same on my own paper.  Here’s the end results:


I took my black Scholar triangular shaped eraser and started erasing edges to create the shape of the apple.  I then created the highlights I saw from the still life by erasing inside the apple.  My drawing still looked a bit flat.  I erased an edge at the bottom of the apple to create a shadow are where the apple was sitting on.  I also took the flat side of my eraser and started to erase from edge of the apple to the edge of my paper.