Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's a Filly!

Another quick pencil sketch from one of the best days of my life. Less than an hour old, Rita is still all wet in the photo.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Mother's Tender Touch

A quick sketch done from one of the photos of the birth of my horse, Santa Margarita.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Drawing a Horse

With tracing paper, I went over yesterday's sketch to show you how I used simple shapes as the framework of this horse's head and neck in profile view. 

This is a drawing from a photo of my mare's sire, Oldenburg Stallion, San Diego. He was kidnapped about 10 yrs. ago by a crazy veterinarian in Illinois along with two other horses. San Diego was recovered unharmed in Florida with the help of my photos which were widely distributed online and throughout the horse show circuit. The vet was caught and put in jail when the owner of the barn that she was leasing saw her putting black spray paint on San Diego's distinguishing white markings. It made National news and created quite a stir in the horse community.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Draw Everyday

"Draw every day for at least half an hour. If you don't feel like it then draw until you do." ~ Author Unknown

Drawing Horses

My Horse Head Demo with Simple Shapes was featured in The Art Instruction Blog's July issue. That and finding a big box of old snapshots, got me fired up again to do some horses. I did this drawing of my mare's sire, San Diego, on tracing paper, refining it with several overlays. I learned this technique in college when majoring in illustration and still find it a useful drawing tool. Tomorrow I'll show you how the simple shapes supported the head and neck framework of this drawing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One Minute of Drawing

Here is a one minute gesture drawing. This is all I could muster today. I've been trying to get my June drawings from archived onto Seems like my old web editing software is conking out on me. I know it's probably time for a major revamp. How I hate change sometimes. It can be sooo time consuming and frustrating! ERRR!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day

Lucky Sunday's Child . . . 

"I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright."  ~ Henry David Thoreau

"Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars... and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful.  Everything is simply happy" ~ Author Unknown

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday's child works hard for a living,

Just look at him go . . .

"The poetry of the earth is never dead."  ~ John Keats

"Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?  Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself."  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday's child is loving and giving,


"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes." ~  e.e. cummings

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday's child has far to go,

This could be taken two ways . . . 

Since I'm a "Thursday's Child", 
I choose to interpret it to mean, "will go far"!

Done today in my sketchbook on regular drawing paper.

"Oh hummingbirds, mighty little ones, stay a while. The sight, sound and touch of you fills me with such love and joy. Thank you for inviting me to hover a while and savor your sweet magic." ~ Sandy Sandy

:-D  ~ C H E E R S ! ~  {-:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday's child is full of woe,

Poor Wednesday's Child . . . 

Hummingbirds drink nectar and eat small insects constantly throughout the day. They hibernate at night to conserve energy. It is the only species that can fly backwards.

Done today in my sketchbook on regular drawing paper.

 "Hummingbirds teach us to hover in the moment and to appreciate its' sweetness." ~ Costance Barrett 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's child is full of grace,

C'mon princess, pose for me . . . 

"The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man."  ~Author Unknown

Done in my sketchbook on regular drawing paper.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."  ~ John Muir

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday's Child Is Fair Of Face

I've been trying to photograph the hummingbirds the past few days with my big camera. It's a real challenge! Even though they are not as sharp as I would like them to be and I've got lots of quality issues, my images will be fine for drawing and painting reference. I'll be posting ones I like for various reasons, like wonderful hummingbird gestures! 

"Monday's Child" is a traditional fortune telling song and Nursery Rhyme that dates back to the early 1800's.  I am going to use the poem as my theme this week and post a new "child" each day!  What day of the week were you born?

Please feel free to sketch and or paint from my photos here on for this week's Hummingbird Sketching Challenge.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jon Gnagy Draws an Old Oak Tree

My week of sketching along with Jon Gnagy has come to an end today. It has been an enjoyable walk down memory lane. I think it's important to mix things up, stretch your boundaries and break out of your daily routine from time to time in life and in art. These drawings were all done in about 20 minutes and made me draw fast without getting bogged down with details. I think drawing along with someone like Jon primes you for drawing quickly. These exercises help you see big shapes and values which is the foundation for any type of drawing you may do. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jon Gnagy Draws Canadian Geese

Today, while sketching along with Jon Gnagy, I had to laugh when Jon describes how these wildfowl winter in the middle US region in the winter and then migrate up to Canada in the summer. Well, they certainly don't migrate around here anymore!  They are abundant year round residents to residential lakes, recreational areas, roadway edges, shopping centers, industrial parks and golf courses.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jon Gnagy Draws A Bucking Bronco

Here's another Jon Gnagy lesson of a bucking bronco. It was fun!  I thought this one was going to be difficult, but it really wasn't. Perhaps it was because I'm familiar with horses and draw them often, or maybe if you just get into the frame of mind of drawing shapes instead of things, everything becomes easier, no matter what the object is. I did this with a very soft, 6B pencil about  5" x 7" in my sketchbook. I haven't gotten any feedback on whether anyone has tried any of Jon's lessons yet. I think the one I did here first of the snow scene was the easiest one to get started on if you are considering giving it a try. Or you can always start by drawing the four simple shapes. Please let me know your thoughts about drawing with Jon Gnagy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lovely Dressage Horses

I've been feeling very nostalgic this week, as I sketch along with Jon Gnagy.  Also I cleaned out some cabinets in my studio and found a big box of horse photos from about twenty years ago. At the time, I was heavily into Dressage, as were my friends. Although I planned to sketch along with Jon Gnagy all week, I thought I'd take a break here today and do a sketch from a photo taken at Dressage At Devon of a friend's upper level Dressage horse.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jon Gnagy - Taught me How To Draw

Like many other kids growing up in the 60's, I got my first Jon Gnagy "Learn To Draw" Art Set when I was around 7 or 8. Believe it or not, they are still popular today, more than fifty years later! I studied the lessons until I could draw them from memory and drew along with him when he was on TV. He was the first one to introduce me to shapes, value, composition and perspective. At the beginning of each show he would draw the four simple shapes that were the building blocks of all the others. "If you can draw these simple shapes", he said, "you can learn to draw." Jon stressed the importance of tone (or value) and said a drawing should have all three; light, medium and dark.

I especially love this Jon Gnagy quote: "I believe that in the life of everyone there comes a time when the Art Spirit is dominant. You may have passed it when you were 5 or 7 or 11 years of age. But it will come again several times in your life when you are looking for something outside your practical everyday routine". 

Check out the Jon Gnagy website maintained by his daughter, Polly Gnagy- Seymour

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jon Gnagy - Mountain Lake Demo

Approximately 7.5 x 9.5 " done with grey and black charcoal sticks in my sketchbook. I liked working smaller in pencil yesterday. Perhaps I didn't work big enough for the charcoal or maybe I just like the pencil because I am used to using it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jon Gnagy Was America's Original TV Art Teacher!

I was telling my sister, Denise, that I got a real nice letter in the mail from the Willingboro Art Alliance thanking me for my demo last Wednesday night. They wrote; "Your enthusiasm for drawing was inspiring for us. We appreciated you encouraging us to participate. It was fun!" Denise said I taught drawing sort of like Jon Gnagy. For those of you too young to know, he was "America's Original TV Art Teacher". That got me thinking about him, so I looked him up online. I am glad to see there is a good selection of his demos from the 50's and 60's on YouTube. I guess you could say he was really my first serious art teacher. Starting at a very young age and over those early formative years growing up, I owned several of his various art sets and even drew along with him on TV. It's true that his approach might be criticized because it was not always truly 'fine art'.  His methods are repetitive, but the reason he did it that way was to teach drawing in a very simple way to those who had never tried it before. He made it fun, fast, and uncomplicated. He was easy to follow and made you feel like you could do it. One can immediately experience a sense of accomplishment following one of his 10 minute demos, often just what's needed to get beginners interested. Whether you like his style of drawing or not, you have to give him credit for being a pioneer in educational TV and for turning so many people on to art, many of which I'm sure, eventually moved on to more 'finer' styles.

I plan on highlighting him and his career and doing some of his demos this week. It should be FUN! I hope some of you will give it a try. 

In the demos, he is using a hard square charcoal stick. (Looks like a conte crayon.) I still have his "Pastel Painting Set" and it has a black and a grey stick in it which I will give a try at some point. You could also use a charcoal pencil or a soft (3B - 5B) pencil for the drawings. Notice the way he is holding it like a wand - using his whole arm! (Holding it between his thumb and forefinger.) Although I don't know if he ever really mentioned it, I watched and imitated his approach. He is the first one to teach me how to hold my pencil that way and I have been drawing like that ever since!

This morning I did Jon's "Snow Scene Lesson"  approximately 4.5 x 6.5", with a soft 4B pencil in my sketchbook. Although I'm not crazy about the composition, it was a fun exercise. He moves along quite fast, so watch it through a couple of times before attempting to follow along. I had to play it through two times to get down all of the details. Don't be afraid to pause the video or back up a bit if you get behind. If you click on the four arrows at bottom right, you can watch it in full screen.

This week's sketching challenge is to try your hand at sketching along with Jon Gnagy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Poppy Composition Sketch

Here's a quick vignette flower composition layout on tracing paper using some of my old poppy drawings. Using tracing paper is a wonderful aid in placement of the stars of the show. Notice how the background leaves are downplayed here. If I do a painting, they will be of mid value, have lost and found edges and be in less sharp focus than the main actors. The main flowers will be large light value with a small dark. It is a basic value pattern and one of my favorites.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Drawing Composition

Here's another flower composition I came up with for this drill.

 What I am trying to stress this week with this exercise are tried and true systems and aids in composition. They are key to creating consistently successful drawings and/or paintings. The Rule Of Thirds and Momma Poppa Baby Formula are highlighted here.

We also got our first drawing in from one of our followers, Judy Scott.

I especially love the Babies here! Judy is really starting to SEE SHAPES and think about placement of her players. Getting looser, more sketchy and using the side of her pencil more often, I can she she's been practicing. Nice job Judy. Thanks so much for following along, participating and sending in your lovely sketch! 

Since I know Judy is eager to learn and improve, I would strongly recommend using tracing paper to move things around a little to get better impact. Also REALLY look at the reference. Your Momma and Poppa just look a little too perfect to me. 

Tips: Boring shapes are circles, triangles and squares. Interesting shapes are irregular and have two different dimensions. Attention grabbing forms have an oblique thrust (at an angle) and have interlocks (shapes that tie it to another area) and/or incidents (uneven protrusions, ) at the edges. Shapes and compositions lead your eye around the piece, or not. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Designing With Flowers

I love using tracing paper for working on compositions and like to use the cheapest, thinnest kind available. Today I traced some of the blind contour flowers that were posted here earlier this week. I used my copier to enlarge and reduce the flower sizes. Using the rule of thirds, and the Momma Poppa Baby Theory, I was able to see various shapes, sizes and relationships before committing to them on paper. This is my first composition using artistic license with the sizes and foliage shapes. Notice the use of value pattern and directional thrust. This may become a watercolor vignette at some point, but I am still undecided. See the painting done from this sketch here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Free Demo Tonight!

I have been invited by the Willingboro Art Alliance to give a demonstration of my sketching and painting techniques. Please come join me tonight at 7:30 at the Kennedy Center, 429 John F. Kennedy Way in room 300 if you are local!  I will be doing my Six Steps To Sensational Sketches Hummingbird Demo and more. I will be talking about various techniques, fundamentals and exercises to improve your skills.You are encouraged to bring your art materials and sketch along!  You can find a printable version of the demonstration here. It is two pages. If you are coming, and can print it out, please bring it along. Hope to see some of you there this evening!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blind Contour Flower Drawings

Today I did this blind contour drawing of some flower heads. I used the reference photos I posted here yesterday for this week's drawing challenge. I purposely didn't pick off the dead or spent blooms as it adds more choices for interesting shapes. When I think shapes, instead of things as I draw, it helps me to get into "the zone" or a better frame of mind. If you haven't tried it yet, give blind contour drawing a try. Remember to move very slowly as you caress the object with your eyes. Try to really feel the shapes as you are drawing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Drawing Flowers

These are a couple of five minute drawings with reference photos. At first, I am mainly concerned with composition and getting the feel of the subject down.

I am thinking of design, center of interest, movement, impact and exaggeration at this stage of the game.

Sketching flowers may not be as simple as one might think. This is possibly due to the fact that we want to over simplify things and not really "see" the shapes we are drawing. This week's challenge will be to sketch flowers and make a pleasing composition using the Momma, Poppa, Baby Theory and the Rule of Thirds.  Here are some flower photos to sketch from. I also encourage you to sketch from life. You can see several of my finished paintings that demonstrate the two design principles I've mentioned here, on my Web Log today. This week's challenge is not just to sketch what you see in front of you, but to change sizes, directions and placement of elements. This is called artistic license and all accomplished artists use it. Begin by doing gesture sketches, studying the various shapes and noticing their differences. What I'm ultimately looking for is interesting shapes that lead the viewer's eye around the piece in a well designed composition. I will be expanding on this throughout the week.