“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

December 9, 2019

November was month three of faces as my drawing subject and, to be honest, I’m pretty much done with this for the year. The fact that the year is almost done as well is a relief. In November I redrew 29 of the same faces that I chose in October. The first 17 were Canadians that I admire with the remainder originating from other countries.
I changed my medium for November, starting with pencil and adding ink. I had thought that drawing first in pencil – eraser in hand – would result in a lot more accurate likenesses – and in some cases it did. I think I did somewhat better in having eyes that lined up and jaw lines that made sense, etc. Some of the individuals are even recognizable, but the improvement was not to the degree I had hoped for. When I next return to drawing faces I will work to level up some more.
Throughout the month, I played a lot with various approaches to achieve an effect I liked. My initial pencil drawings were quick and simplified. For the first five drawings, I continued by laying down light grey washes of India ink, slowly building up to black and finishing with the dip pen in black ink. I did this to avoid the ink washes smearing when I laid them down over the lines, but this left me feeling like I was outlining things at the end and not actually drawing. So with the November 6 drawing, I just stopped using the pen altogether and I continued on that way for a bit, adding all of the lines with a brush and ink. This wasn’t ideal as I was unable to achieve the same fine lines with the brush – and I really missed the variety of line thickness that I can create with the dip pen. On the November 17 drawing, I returned to my dip pen but used alcohol ink for the drawing before adding the India ink washes over top. This ink behaved a little differently – it tended to bleed a bit more and as a result, all of my lines were thicker. I liked the look of some of these drawings though. I switched back to the India ink on November 26 with Stephen King because I needed to use finer lines on his glasses. There was a bit of smearing when I put my washes down over top, but not that bad. And frankly, I was a bit bored with all of the faces by then. I finished the month with this same process and I feel my last few drawings turned out fairly well.
Overall I’m pleased with the results this month, even though I did not come up with a single approach that I consistently liked. And I never really found a great way to represent hair, eyebrows or teeth. I learned quite a lot and I enjoyed drawing this past month. Sometime in 2020, I’m sure I will return to faces again in some form. In the meantime, on to Christmas subject matter for December….

“I am not altogether displeased with the shirt-front.” – Paul Cezanne, after about 115 sittings for a portrait of Ambroise Vollard…

November 4, 2019

For my daily drawings in October I decided to continue drawing faces, but to increase the challenge a little. Before last June I had always shied away from drawing faces as I found it very intimidating. Last year and again in September, I used other artists’ work as my reference. This made it a little easier as the original drawings or paintings were already artistic interpretations and therefore once removed from realistic representations. The artist had already made decisions about what to keep in and what to leave out, etc. The fact that I could never reproduce the finished drawing or painting accurately didn’t bother me – I was happy if it looked like a face.

In October, it was a real challenge to turn to photographs as reference. Now I had to make my own decisions about how to simplify the visual information in the photos into a line drawing. I continued to use a dip pen and ink in order to avoid getting too precious. Of course, it meant that my accuracy is sacrificed, often resulting in uneven eyes and bizarre proportions – and I’m ok with that. Overall I am pretty pleased with my drawings in October. Some of them are even recognizable as SPECIFIC people.

In November I am leveling up again. This time I am working with photos, but I am going to begin in pencil and then build up both line and tone with a dip pen, a brush and ink washes. It’s all experimental and I’m working to come up with a process that works well for me and provides a result I’m happy with.

I’ve decided to redraw all of the same faces from October to make it a bit more interesting. So far it’s been fun to look at the two drawings of the same face side by side. I’m posting my drawings every day or so on Instagram and will post all of the drawings together in early December.

“I paint German artists whom I admire….

Oct 7, 2019
“I paint German artists whom I admire. I paint their pictures, their work as painters, and their portraits too. But oddly enough, each of these portraits ends up as a picture of a woman with blonde hair. I myself have never been able to work out why this happens.” – Georg Baselitz

In September I chose to draw faces for my daily drawings project. I restricted myself to a dip pen and ink in order to play with line weight and simplified drawings. My reference material consisted of portraits drawn or painted by some of my favourite artists.

I was trying to create faces, but I wasn’t too concerned if I was creating recognizable drawings of the original artworks; instead, it was more about studying how other artists used various brush or pen strokes to create marks that resemble facial features. In some cases, like the Modigliani faces, they are very stylized and I wanted to understand the simplification process he used. After working like this for a month, I feel like I have only brushed against something that I would like to thoroughly dig into in order to develop my own personal shorthand of strokes to render eyes and noses and profiles. I’ve decided to continue on with this subject matter for October and I will post my results in early November. I will continue to post my drawings most days on Instagram for anyone that wants to see how it’s going.

“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” – Junot Diaz

August 6, 2019

My June daily drawings:

This is the third time in the last three years that I’ve spent a month drawing hands and this time around I decided to make sure my hands were always holding something. I chose five different media to use for six consecutive days each, starting with a black pigment pen and then moved to graphite. In these first drawings I was playing around with leaving some parts of the drawing less developed than other parts. Third up was Copic pigment liner with Koi Watercolour Brush Pens. For the last twelve days I worked with India ink and a brush – first on white paper, then on a grey ground for the last six drawings. I like to use the ink mixed with water, creating a series of washes that get darker as I proceed. I added a bit of white to a few of these as well.
Overall, I think the drawings went well and I really enjoyed creating them – even if some are kind of weird (like those odd fingers and the tiny pear on the 19th and the weird boneless hand on the 21st). For a little walk down memory lane, here are my 2018 hand drawings and my 2017 hand drawings. Next year I’ll have to come up with some new variation, but I will definitely return to this subject.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton

June 24, 2019

These drawings are from my sketchbook from late 2018 to earlier this month. Looking back as far as November reminds me of some of the ideas that caught my attention for more than a day or so. One of the reasons that I skip warm-up drawings in my sketchbook – other than a shortage of time – is that I can’t think of anything I want to draw. But when I look back, I don’t find the drawings boring – even when I’m looking at the same stack of white cups drawn over and over. And that is what I love about art – the way it makes normal everyday ‘stuff’ seem interesting again – even if it didn’t seem that way when I was drawing it.

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

June 3, 2019
For the month of May, rather than have a theme to guide the subject matter of my drawings, I chose to relocate where I did my drawing. I’m fortunate to have a studio – a small room where my art supplies live and where I can go to draw and paint and control the lighting with everything I need at my fingertips – it’s all very comfortable and lovely and a situation crying out for a shake-up. The only requirement I set out was that I draw outside of my comfy and safe nest studio – and as a result, outside of my comfort zone.
This was an eye-opening experience for me. A simple change in location led me places I had not considered before in more than a literal sense. There were days where I simply picked another room of the house to draw in and I drew what I saw and even that seemed new. I managed to draw on location quite a lot and realized I would like to try more urban sketching and take the time to develop the skills I’m currently lacking in drawing buildings and other architectural elements. I found that there is some pretty cool looking public furniture at malls and in other public spaces and I may have to make that a theme at some point.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone quite a lot this past month and I really enjoyed it. This has made me excited about drawing again and I feel like there is just so much out there that I want to capture in my sketchbook. There were a lot of days where I sat down and looked at what I wanted to draw and felt the fear of knowing that I might completely make a mess of it and I did it anyway. Some of the drawings are pretty mediocre, and that’s the thing; it really isn’t about how well they turned out, it’s about the process and the experience. Fortunately, the positive experiences far outweighed the less than successful ‘experiments’ and have left me with a head full of ideas to carry on in my daily drawing practice.

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a Shepard. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” – Winston Churchill

May 13, 2019

In April, I decided to redraw items that I had drawn in 2016 or early 2017. I had thought that perhaps I would be able to make some dramatic comparisons. That wasn’t really the case though. I am posting only the current drawings here, but each day I posted the current drawing on Instagram with the original. It may not have turned out as I had expected, but it did give me a break from coming up with ideas of what to draw for the month.

In each drawing I added a bit of colour (even if it was grey) with watercolour. I used either my Winsor & Newton travel box of watercolours or my Peerless Transparent Watercolors. I enjoyed the challenge and the opportunity to learn something new. The two sets produce quite different results and I have a lot to learn about both yet.