100 Face Challenge: Study for Madonna with the Yarnwinder (#10 & #11)

I’ve been enjoying copying the work of other artists, and so I decided to try this sketch from the great Leonardo da Vinci.  I tried a quick preliminary sketch first, with a Caran d’Ache Technalo watersoluble graphite pencil.  I wanted to see the lines, so I didn’t hit it with the water at all.   I’m finding I really like the look of a sketch done with water-soluble graphite.    It gives an interesting depth, and almost gives the feeling of charcoal on my mixed media paper, without so much smudging.


The original work was so beautiful that I had to try again, this time with just a B graphite pencil on the same mixed media paper (just different lighting).   I was much happier with this effort.

0109 2

I look forward to revisiting this one again when I can take more time with it.   Such lovely lines in the original!    I’m learning so much right now from the work of others.    What a joy to try and recreate!    I’m enjoying this face challenge so much!

Enjoy your weekend and I hope you dance!

100 Face Challenge: Less is More Experiment (#8)!

Recently, I decided to focus more on drawing animals, particularly in ink. In that process, I ran across the YouTube channel of an amazing artist named Alphonso Dunn.   He has a huge catalog of videos there, which he’s graciously produced and made available for free.   One that particularly caught my eye is titled “The Less is More Principle”.  Which led to this drawing.

010616Pen can be tricky, and as Alphonso teaches, it can be very useful to learn to be brief with your strokes, and capture the immediacy of the subject in that moment.   I wanted to capture the essence of this dog quickly, and I was happy with this effort.

Incidentally, Alphonso came out with his first book a few weeks ago.   He wanted to produce the kind of book he wanted when he was trying to teach himself how to draw in pen.    “Pen and Ink Drawing:   A Simple Guide” doesn’t disappoint.   He is passionate about teaching and about drawing, and he is one of the few artists I’ve come across who is really good at both.  He can boil difficult principles down to a paragraph or two.    (He has some wonderful videos on perspective, for example, that brought me closer to understanding this than anything I’ve come across.)

He is wonderful, and has such a gentle and gracious way about him, too.   By the way, he also works in pen and watercolor, graphite; he doesn’t limit himself to just ink.   I encourage you to check out his YouTube channel, and consider taking a look at his book (free preview on Amazon, here) to see if you might find it useful.   It’s already the #1 bestseller on Amazon in its category.   Congratulations, Alphonso, and well-deserved!

Happy Wednesday; we’re almost home free now!     I want to thank all of you for taking this journey with me.   Peace and creative wonderment to all.

Selfie Challenge, Take Two!

It was a loooong day at the office yesterday, but here is the self-portrait I promised; sorry it’s late! I hope you like it, Teresa and Kirk! 🙂


Pan paints for eyes and a paintbrush clenched in my jaws. What a way to fly through life, huh? I should have drawn “Addicted to Colorrrrrr” right across my forehead. Would have made it complete! hehe!

Happy Creative Weekend to all!

“Selfie” Challenge

I want to thank Teresa of One Good Thing and Kirk of Dumb Sketch Daily, who are leading the charge for Selfie day, in which participants all agreed to draw a self-portrait. What a cool and fun challenge, and I really enjoy portraits, so I was looking forward to it!

ash cropped 02252015

I tried twice to draw myself, once from a photo (which turned out badly) and once in the mirror yesterday (which turned out even worse), and so I decided to draw a recent photo of my daughter instead, as she is half me after all lol. Well, that one even bombed, so I decided to bring out an “oldie but goodie” I drew of my daughter as a toddler, from her birthday earlier this year, and post that one instead. I hope you all enjoy. 🙂

ash photo cropped 02252015

I’m not sure if abstract portraits are allowed, but if my work schedule today permits, I will try and conjure up a quick abstract self-portrait later today. Looking forward to it! Peace and Happy Fall Friday to all!

Quick Quest (Five-Min. Head Studies)

Recently, I watched this video by Joy Thomas called “Five-Minute Head Studies”, and I have to admit, the idea of drawing a human face in five minutes intrigued the heck outta me.   During the video, she describes the process as addicting, which made me think “Maybe if you’re crazy.”  Well.   Maybe I’m crazy?   Because she was completely right.   Here are a few of the studies I completed.   They were all taken from stills of a DVD of a popular British drama.   (We’re all hooked on the show and own every season.)

5-min. head studies (graphite)
5-min. head studies (graphite)

The aim, according to Joy, is not to achieve a likeness in five minutes, but instead, to prepare for a longer study or, in her case, a commissioned portrait.   Once I got used to the steps and process, it was actually a lot of fun!   I think it’d be easy to get hooked if you’re interested in drawing people.   And I do believe it is sharpening my drawing skills, so in my opinion, it was worthwhile.   Joy also wrote a book, which I’ve borrowed from the library entitled “The Art of Portrait Drawing: Learn the Essential Techniques of the Masters”, which can be found here.

5-min. head study (Micron .02)
5-min. head study (Micron .02)

This one ^^ was closer to six minutes, by the time I drew in her hat and coat.   But I’m definitely interested in doing more of these.   As the author says, once you get used to the method, it’s amazing what you can do if you draw it out to twenty minutes….or even ten.   I’d also like to learn to do pet portraits (which Thomas does as well), but I have a feeling that will be much more difficult.   I love animals, but I don’t find fur the easiest thing to draw.    Maybe if I could master the fineliner pen!

Can’t believe it’s Wednesday already!   Counting down to fall foliage!  😀  Peace.

F is for ???

I’ve become a bit discouraged with watercolor skies, so I decided to revisit portraits for a bit.  (See my other Famous Faces at this link.)   It’s probably been over two months since I’ve done one, but I do enjoy them. It was a pleasure staring into this man’s eyes, I’ll tell you that.


Please feel free to guess, as I’m holding all comments in moderation. If you guess and do not see your comment appear in a few hours or so, then you’ve guessed correctly! 😀 I’ll reveal everyone’s comments/guesses later on this afternoon.

I don’t want to say too much about this person, and spoil the guessing game. Suffice it to say that he is a person whom I admire deeply, but not (only) for the obvious reasons. I simply admire him as a human being. I’m looking forward to reading a biography about him. If anyone can recommend one, I’d love to hear about it.

I got a big hand up from the raw umber Polychromos colored pencil.   I really cannot recommend these pencils highly enough.   This was done in a Strathmore spiral-bound drawing sketchbook.   The paper is nice, but only nice.   The plan was to sketch him there and then do the final in a Stonehenge sketchbook (perfect marriage of paper and medium).   However, I liked the sketch so much that I decided to go with it, instead.    I may revisit him in a different pose; he was (and is) a joy to stare at, in my opinion.

I wish everyone a peaceful June Saturday, and lots of whatever relaxation and renewal mean for you. I hope you make something beautiful. Sending love and light. ❤


Kerfe at Method Two Madness inspired me recently with this post, in which she drew some of the work of famous artists who attempted to capture the image of the Madonna.  I was so taken with her work that I decided it might be fun to attempt something in a similar vein.    I’m glad I did, because it may have been the most awe-inspiring day I’ve encountered so far in my art journey. 

The image I sketched can be found at this link.   I know embarrassingly little about art history, but it was sketched by Leonardo da Vinci c. 1483, and is entitled Head of a Girl.  My attempt, in colored pencil:

head of a girl 042015

I’ve often described the tingly feelings I sometimes experience when drawing the face of someone I’ve admired.   This was an interesting exercise in the sense that I knew nothing about the young woman subject, but in attempting to copy da Vinci’s work, I felt instead a connection to the artist himself, stretching across centuries and an ocean besides, which left me feeling amazed and oddly satisfied, even though I put the sketch down half finished after staying up late with it the first night.    

It also made me realize that I want to do more of this kind of work.  I really enjoy portraits, but drawing the work of one of the Old Masters carries its own built-in awe, regardless of the subject.   I found it quite moving, and I would have to be a much better writer to describe the experience more clearly. 

I hope you’re doing the Saturday dance today, and that you have a truly enjoyable April weekend, whatever that means for you.  Peace and arty goodness to one and all!

U is for ???

Sometimes the best part about drawing a portrait is staring into the subject’s eyes. No exception in this case!  Some of you who were with me in January may recognize this blast from the past.   I re-drew him yesterday, and I’m more satisfied with the second attempt.  I hope you enjoy it, too.


Have a good-great-wonderful Monday (choose your flavor, it’s your choice!), and just think: Without Monday, we wouldn’t appreciate Friday the way we do! *dancing in advance*

See you tomorrow!

N is for ???


The reference image was her album cover. The actual cover is at least half black (the entire left side), but I didn’t wanna run my poor pencil all the way down to the nib trying to make the drawing look more like the photo.  Artistic license!  I enjoy her music, but I’m not a huge fan.  But I have always loved that photo, though, and it kept calling my name yesterday.  And now, I can’t get one of her songs out of my head.  I love the mood of her work, the softandsmoothness of it.   She strikes me as an old soul, something I can appreciate.

I bought the modern-day replacement of the old (’87) Mead sketchbook I have done many of my portraits in, and tried it out for this one.  Yeah, I don’t like it.  It’s strictly sketch quality, and very light media at that; I wouldn’t try and do colored pencil work at all in this again, beyond very simple sketches of one layer only.   Also, the texture of the paper was just plain odd.  Usually the Polychromos shades effortlessly, but this paper made the pencil feel more like an extremely finely nibbed pen.  There were almost scratchmarks on the paper at times, and normally I can blend any hard edges with my finger, and often do while I’m drawing, but I couldn’t, not with this paper.  (I probably won’t forget this, but I’m noting it here just in case busy season amnesia kicks in next month.)

I’m hoping for a bright, sunny day today, so I can conjure up 70 degrees…in my head, at least!  I have a few ideas for the letter O.  We’ll see what percolates.  The watercolor brush was unkind to me today.  Tomorrow will be better.  Have a great week!