Drawing Lessons, Tracing

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | 2 Comments

Is it cheating to trace?

Nope. Tracing is a tool, and if you can’t draw, tracing won’t solve the problem.

Yesterday, I said that we often trace the main shapes first, and then draw by looking at the tracing. If you look at the photo, there are many distracting details. If you get the skeleton of the picture on the page first, then you know the details will fit inside.

Rosemary took photos of this giraffe, and then we cropped it down to the essentials. She is now ready to copy the shapes on the tracing.

A tracing is no guarantee of accuracy. I can see that the head-knob (what are those things??) on our right isn’t just like the photo.

The tracing is a starting point. Many corrections happen throughout the entire process. Rosemary will look at this tracing in every direction, evaluating the shapes around the giraffe rather than just the giraffe itself. (In Artspeak, that is called “negative space”, in case you were wondering if I know the real term.)

You can be fast or you can be good. Rosemary is good. This giraffe will be wonderful, because that is how she draws!

More Drawing Lessons Fun

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | 2 Comments

In drawing lessons, each student works at her own pace on the drawing of her choice. (Men are allowed too, but this class happens to be completely feminine.)Below:

Jane, on the left,  sat outside a house and did a very nice sketch of it. She decided she’d like to do it in the highly accurate and detailed manner that I teach. So, she is working out all the dimensions, learning about perspective, and getting the “bones” of the drawing in place before she gets to the shading stage.

Elainea, on the right, has a very endearing photo of her grandson reaching for a Christmas ornament. We cropped it, and then she did a tracing of the main shapes. Next, she drew the shapes on her good paper, looking only at the tracing instead of the photo with its overwhelming details. After all the shapes were in place accurately, she began shading the child’s face. 

In very difficult or demanding subjects, I usually instruct my students to begin with the main part. My theory is that if the main part doesn’t look good, then you don’t have to spend time on the rest of the picture. Also, if you do all the other stuff, then sometimes the fear of wrecking the drawing will cause paralysis.

In other words, “Life’s short – eat dessert first”.

Drawing Lessons Are Fun

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | 4 Comments

Drawing lessons are one of the best parts of my art business. See? Happy people having fun!

Once a week, I spend an afternoon helping people draw at the Courthouse Gallery in Exeter. Some folks just need a regular place and time to draw, some need help with difficult projects, and some need instruction every step of the way. It is a pleasure and privilege to help every one of my students in whatever way they need.

This happens 4 people at a time, 1 hour per week. Each person works on his or her own piece, at his or her own pace. They pay by the month, a month in advance. Sixth grade is the minimum age. You don’t have to have “talent” or experience, just the desire to learn to draw.

My classes are full, but there are four alternatives.

  1. Private lessons at my studio in Three Rivers, scheduled when and however it suits both of us.
  2. A beginning drawing workshop at Arts Visalia, scheduled for Saturday, August 26th, 9-3.
  3. IF YOU HAVE ALREADY TAKEN THE WORKSHOP OR HAD LESSONS WITH ME, continuing lessons in a group format at Arts Visalia, the 3rd Tuesday of the month, beginning in September.
  4. Get on my waiting list for the Tuesday afternoon lessons in Exeter.

Drawing lessons are fun for everyone who participates. The only ones who don’t learn how to draw are those who quit too soon.

Claire drew the barn and we were quite pleased with the results. Her Mom requested leaves on the oak trees. It was very hard, but we figured out a way. The drawing looks faded because I photographed it under a cellophane sleeve while my camera battery was dying, Claire’s dad was waiting for her, and I was in a big hurry. My fault, not Claire’s!

More Beach

Posted by on Jul 5, 2017 in drawing | No Comments

There is more to the beach than just the beach.

Poppies at the Beach, pencil and colored pencil, private collection

Silver Beach (on the shores of Lake Michigan), pencil and colored pencil, private collection

Wave Action, pencil, 8×10″, unframed, $100

Let’s Go To The Beach

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in drawing | 8 Comments


Up through the summer of my tenth year of life, my grandmother had a house at the beach. This house may explain my predisposition toward shingle siding. 

Family Beach House, pencil drawing, private collection

When I lived near the beach, I missed the mountains. Now that mountains are a regular part of my life, I miss the beach. So, let’s go to the beach, figuratively speaking, through pencil drawings. (I’ll probably be in the mountains when these posts appear. . . )

Wood, Wind, Waves; pencil drawing, approximately 12×16″, matted and framed, $400

Beach Birds, pencil on paper, sold

Central Coast Pier, pencil on paper, sold

Mineral King Trail Art

Posted by on Jun 28, 2017 in drawing, Mineral King, Oil Paintings | 2 Comments

Being on a roll with pencil drawings of Mineral King makes me think very carefully about what I should draw next. 

This is a view I recently painted, and it sold right away. 

Allllrighty, then. Looks and sounds like a logical next pencil drawing. However, all the other drawings are vertical, so this scene will need some cropping, stretching and improvising, all while maintaining its believability.

How’s this? Is it believable?

To contribute to the authenticity, I’ve included the trail sign. In real life, the thing is about 1-1/2 feet off the ground. Weird. Can you spot its goofy little self in this drawing?

Here it is in all its midgetry. (My blog, my word. . . any questions?)

A Better Sawtooth

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in drawing, Mineral King | 2 Comments

Sawtooth is that very visible and distinctive peak in Mineral King that shows up in Visalia on a clear day.

Here is a pencil drawing of Sawtooth from 2003. It isn’t bad.

Here is a pencil drawing of Sawtooth from last week. It is a different view, and I think it is better.


Here: let’s do a little side-by-side comparison.

The contrast isn’t as marked as it was between the two Farewell Gap drawings, but the gap of years isn’t as wide either.

I Draw Better Now

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Color, drawing | 4 Comments

Over a year ago, I was at a dinner and ran into someone who had bought a colored pencil drawing of oranges from me in the early 2000s. He mentioned that it was still hanging in his office.

I said, “I draw better now; can I have it back to fix it?”

Yes, I actually said that to a satisfied customer. He was sort of shocked, but he agreed; then, a year passed and I heard nothing.

Last week, one of my drawing students came to class with the original colored pencil drawing. She exercises with the customer’s wife, and I guess the man decided to take me up on my offer.

I’ve learned more about color than I knew back in my days of colored pencil. This is probably a result of learning to oil paint. (Last week I said that growth is good unless one is a cancer cell. . .)

BEFORE: Central California Sunshine, a colored pencil drawing from 2001

AFTER: Central California Sunshine, revised in 2017

Here, let’s look at them small, so they show up on the screen at the same time (depending on your device):

The upper one looks almost finished, the lower one looks finished. The difference is probably too subtle for normal people to notice, but it matters to me.

This drawing is available as a reproduction print, 11×14, $40. One time a potential customer told me she didn’t like it because the light on the orange on the left looked like frost to her. Ever since that time, whenever someone buys a print, I add color to it. It is time consuming, and it has made me wish to get the original back so I could fix it.

THANK YOU, DENNIS AND PATTY, for a chance to redeem my reputation!

Drawing Mineral King

It is Friday, and the only new thing I have to show you of Mineral King is a drawing. My weekends have been taken with memorial services (one last Saturday and another one tomorrow), drawing workshops, art receptions, business presentations. 

I’m not complaining, just ‘splaining.

The drawing is new. The scene is old, or perhaps “classic” is the right word.

Pencil drawing, “Mineral King From The Bridge”, 9×12″, unframed, unpriced, uncertain.

It has been awhile since I drew anything of Mineral King (except for water). Maybe a series of pencil drawings of Mineral King would sell as reproduction prints. Cards? Too much money to print, too little profit. But I’ll give that some thought too.

Want a laugh? Look at how I drew this scene in 1987.

Growth is good, unless you are a cancer cell. 


One Day Drawing Workshop

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in drawing, Lessons | No Comments

Happy Birthday, Lauren!!

At Arts Visalia, a non-profit gallery in (duh) Visalia, I gave a drawing workshop on Saturday.

There were 6 participants, all attending for different reasons – used to draw, always wanted to draw, tried it before but wasn’t successful, a painter who wants better shapes, draws a little but wants a boost. . . 

We started with the basics. I explained that drawing is a skill, not a talent, and the only people who don’t learn are the ones who quit too soon (or don’t listen). We went through the tools and the steps, and then did a very simple copy-the-shapes exercise. Next was a shading exercise.

Then, we applied what we had practiced to working from 2 photos of oranges.

The workshop was 6 hours long, and this is how the drawings looked at the end:

The drawings are all unfinished, but these were eager learners, and I think each one will finish and keep practicing on her own. Very pleasant group of truly nice and interesting people. I feel blessed to have met you and am proud of you all!