- Lesson details
For years, master artist Steve Huston has been asked how he creates his beautiful sketchbooks. In this series, he will teach you how to blend two very distinct processes into one great way to do studies – or for that matter – finishes.
Covering landscape, still-life, and figure, Steve shows you why watercolor is such a great tool for planning out a tonal or color composition, why it’s ideal for creating what he refers to as “happy accidents,” and how it can help you make that difficult transition from competent draftsman to first class painter.
Additionally, Steve will put in time using pen and ink, and brush and ink, exploring ideas for planning future paint strokes, seeing how it will help develop your eye for the precise way to track and/or reinvent form on paper or canvas and see how you can sneak a little color and flare into these time-honored tools.
Practice with Steve as he lectures and demonstrates how to begin and finish both quick sketches and more complete renderings.
This series is based on a live-streamed workshop hosted by Art Mentors in late 2017.
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clients such as Caesar’s Palace, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studies.
He has taught drawing and painting at Disney, Warner Brothers, Blizzard Entertainment and
The sketchbook is a place for great possibilities and for experimenting in basically doing what-ifs.
What if I made everything a little lighter so I overexposed the image?
What if I underexposed the image?
Made everything a little darker?
What if I made it more contrasted?
If I can take the complex areas of life and break them down into simple architectural
truths, I have control of that, then.
I can easily light that from different directions and understand it.
I can redesign it so that it becomes something more heroic or something more pitiful.
The sketchbook, then, is the repetition that builds that language that you have to be able
The broader your vocabulary, the more clearly you can state the simple.
I want to tell you right now, you’re smart men and women for picking this workshop.
This is critical, I think.
Everybody thinks about sketchbooks if they’re in the art world and they talk about it a
I don’t think many people really understand it’s value or how many ways it can work
We title this as doing a sketchbook, but it’s really going to be doing several sketchbooks.
I’m going to show you how to do several.
It would be very smart, especially if you’re early in your career—but either way, later
in your career works too—to have several sketchbooks,
each dedicated towards a specific goal.
A set of practices and intentions.
Keep in mind when I say sketchbook, I’ve got my sketchbook that’s ring bound and
all that kind of stuff.
It doesn’t have to be a formal sketchbook.
It can be slips of paper.
I know people who draw on napkins.
I just at a conference with Kim Jung Gi, and he was drawing—he said he would draw on
the sauce in his plate at the restaurant.
Anything can be a sketchbook.
If you’ve got a great drawing on your dinner plate you can take a picture of it.
It can be anything.
It doesn’t have be formalized.
Later you can bind it together.
Sometimes in my sketchbook—not the one I brought with me this time, but I’ll have
stuff that I’ve collaged in, other pieces or references or whatever.
You can be wildly creative with it.
It can be loose-leaf.
It can be whatever.
Having said that, what we’re going to do, as I said, is several sketchbooks.
I’m going to show you, and we’ll spend most of the time, frankly, in the big sketchbook
where we do the pen and ink and we do the gouache and watercolor techniques.
But, I’m going to show you in the beginning, using those same mediums more or less.
I’m going to show you in the beginning how to do really targeted stuff.
What we really want is we want a sketchbook of objects, a still life sketchbook.
It can be formal stiff lifes, as I’ll show you, but more importantly in the beginning
is just drawing objects where we’re just learning to see the world as simple construction,
It can be drawing spoons, your coffee cup.
You can set up a formal still life and sketch from that.
The rim of a tire as you’re sitting on a bench waiting for the bus.
Any and all, the pen that you’re drawing with.
Drawing simple things that aren’t figure, frankly.
We’re going to do mainly figure here.
We’re going to start out this morning not doing hardly any figure.
Most of this long weekend is going to be mainly figure because that’s what I’m known for,
and that’s what you expected.
Looking to still lifes that aren’t figures, the problem with the figure is we have this
fluid organic thing that articulates and changes in position that’s complicated.
If I can learn to take any particular part of the body and break it down into a simple
series of architectural shapes, say the end of the thumb is a spoon or it’s a hook shape,
you know, the muzzle of a dog, or it’s a kidney bean kind of shape.
If I can take the complex areas of life and break them down into simple architectural
truths, I have control of that, then.
I can easily light that from different directions and understand it.
I can redesign it so that it becomes something more heroic or something more pitiful to tell
a story with.
I can render it more easily because I understand its simple architecture.
Then I know that as that architecture faces toward the light it will get lighter.
As it faces away from the light it will get darker.
It gives me massive control over it, and I can animate it.
I can take something that’s very, very simple, and then as a simple solid I can move that
space and time or exaggerate it in a position if I want to animate my own painting or my
It gives me great control over things to work from that method.
Looking to nature’s simpler or manmade objects that are simpler in design is a great resource
to have, great practice to perform.
What it does then is gives you a catalog of simple shapes to work with, so you can draw
the simple shapes that you’ve drawn in your object sketchbook and apply those to the landscapes
and figures to a finished painting.
These principles—I always kind of make this qualifier and use my own career as an example.
All these basic, simple principles of sketchbook, of basic construction theory, of gesture and
the fluidity of life, all that kind of basic 101 stuff I pack in immediately right into
I draw onto my painting.
I’m working on an 8 x 10 foot painting with eight big figures in it.
I will draw the same kind of five-minute lay-in for those figures that I would draw if I was
sitting in front of a model in a class with other artists sketching.
I don’t change my process.
All of a sudden I don’t put on my finished fine art painter’s hat as opposed to my
teacher or student hat.
My thinking is laser focused for the same intention, always.
The figure, the world, really, as an architectural truth that has this organic design built into
That then has to play through whether I’m working in oil paint or clay or in a sketchbook
or doing a monumental mural.
Whatever it is, the thinking is the same.
The sketchbook then is the repetition that builds this language that you have to be able
to draw on.
The broader your vocabulary, the more clearly you can state the simple.
That’s what we’re after, a way to do that.
There is nothing better than a sketchbook.
We’re going to do objects, just drawing in line.
I’m going to be—and then we’ll do a tonal sketchbook where we’ll start to look.
First we’re going to look at the world and we’re going to see everything is simple
The basic idea is that ball, box, tube idea.
Everything is going to some simple, yet characteristic version of that as we go through and draw
half of a grapefruit or a vase or a spoon or whatever it is.
It’s going to work from that simple truth.
And so we’re going to look at things as simple linear shapes, linear constructions.
Then we’re going to do another sketchbook, and that sketchbook is going to be tonal.
There we’re going to work out our tonal compositions.
We’re going to learn to see the world, whether it’s a still life or a landscape.
I’ve got some really complicated street scenes in there and cityscapes and stuff.
We’re going to see how to simplify things down into two or three values.
The whole world becomes a series of simple shapes.
Then with our second sketchbook, we develop an understanding of the world as a simple
Then we can pack all the complexity of little shapes on bigger shapes, of nuanced technique.
We’re going to be talking quite a bit about technique today or two main mediums.
And a simple tonal pattern on top of that.
That gives us control.
Then we will add into that color.
We’ll put color on top of that tone.
Then we’ll start to see how simple construction of the shapes creates not only control of
the object but eventually a little composition.
That’s what we’re going to do quite a bit of; not exclusively, but quite a bit of,
especially the first day or two.
Getting a composition and we’ll see the difference between a composition that works
just as simple line construction, working the converging lines of the street going into
space and the buildings as blocks and the figures in the street and the cars and all
that kind of stuff.
Seeing those simple architectural ideas and seeing how those arrange in a more or less
linear way into an interesting or not so interesting composition, a simple, clear, or a confusing
And how to wrestle through and get what we want out of that.
Take the confusion and reduce it into something clear and clean, taking the scattered and
making sure it binds together into some kind of fluid, harmonious hole, and then seeing
how those things work in value.
What we’ll start to see here is that when we get a value composition, the value relationships,
the amount of light to middle to dark might be very pleasing, but the shapes, how they
work together, are not so pleasing.
We might find that neither the shape design, how these shapes arrange together and how
these values arrange together, they may be completely uninteresting.
But it’s an incredible color composition, where the harmonies of color, despite the
disinterest of the shapes and the disinterest of the, or the boredom of the value structure,
but you get these incredible color harmonies.
What we’re going to try and do then is take our object sketchbook, our value, tonal composition
sketchbook, and then our little color study sketchbook and make sure that they all work
Make sure they’re firing on all three cylinders.
Then in our sketchbook at that level, just spending two or three minutes or twenty or
thirty or even an hour on a little study, how that can then save us a time so we don’t
waste 40, 50 hours on this big, monumental painting, or even a decent painting.
A 16 x 20 inch painting can take as many hours to complete.
We want to make sure that’s not wasted time because we did that preliminary work.
So a sketchbook will lead us to that.
We’re going to do those three.
Frankly, the color we’ll kind of combine in with the tonal just for time’s sake,
but you can do a separate sketchbook just working out color compositions.
We’ll kind of liken that to production design for the new Bladerunner or the next Marvel
movie or some beautifully shot art movie or something, where you get these incredible
landscapes and mood lighting and stuff.
See how they do it because they stole from the early artists, and we’ll steal back
from them because oftentimes we’re more familiar with the movie images than we are
with the old traditional paintings.
Having said that, then we’ll do another sketchbook that’s focused on looking at
It can be master compositions.
It can incorporate into the other sketchbook.
Or, and this what we’ll do here, we’ll look at master studies and look at Boucher
or Giorgione or whoever and learn from them and learning how to copy from them.
So I want another sketchbook that’s on master copies.
Then I will have kind of master, my big sketchbook where I just then try and develop my own vision
I’ll be sketching things that are going to be for my own, for another painting series,
working out ideas, maybe even write in and do some little notations and stuff.
We can kind of eventually combine them all together if you want.
In theory, in thinking you’re going to have separate goals, very specific goals.
I want to learn how to see the world as an architectural issue, an architectural problem
to be solved.
I want to see it as a tonal problem, a value problem to be solved.
I want to see it as a color harmony thing to be solved.
Then I want to see it as learning from the greats and see how they solved it.
Then I’m going to start doing a sketchbook that’s about technique that’s going to
speak with my voice.
We’re going to do actually fairly on this morning, I’m going to talk about pen and
ink technique, the actual technique of making marks because it’s absolutely critical for
draftsman but also for paintings.
When you work in pen and ink, and the reason I chose that, and we’ll do a little bit
of marker too, and you can grab any marker that’s around.
I use Sharpies, but it could be Stadler.
It doesn’t matter.
It can even be the side of your pencil or charcoal and you can block it out.
Just kind of big, broad marks we’ll do too.
But, in pen and ink and the reason I chose it is with pen and ink you have to create
the constructed truth, of course, through line.
You could do that with pencil or whatever.
More importantly, for my end-goal you have to use line to explain tone, to explain value.
You hatch in several hatching marks to create that shadow shape.
We’re putting line in a contained space to create shapes.
You have the side of a box that’s in shadow as opposed to the top of the box that’s
By creating those contained shapes of line, we’re given the illusion, the idea of form.
Now, once we understand that we’re using lines, strokes to make mass, basically, to
combine together to make mass, that is very analogous to our paint stroke.
Now, all of a sudden, through pen and ink work, and I’ll reference several of them.
Through pen and ink work we can get a whole big palette of choices for brush stroke.
Generally we just go down the long axis or we try and hide the strokes completely.
That’s what most people do.
You can go across the axis.
You can cut through the form.
You can sculpt over the form.
There are all sorts of ways.
You can build energy, pack energy into it.
You can show distance through it or force that stroke forward in interest.
It is a whole world of possibilities just with line.
And so that’s critical and oftentimes missing for realists.
They don’t understand how to use the mark itself to be descriptive of the object or
to be, or to reference emotion or to just be different so it looks personal, so it makes
it look like it’s your way of mark making as opposed to the standard fare.
We’re going to look quite a bit at that.
Of course, the gouache and watercolor studies.
We’ll talk a little bit about both.
Frankly, I think of gouache and watercolor as completely interchangeable.
They’re not exactly, but in practice you can paint thick or thin with either one.
Gouache thins out just like watercolor thins out.
You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
They really work the same.
They are slightly different in precise character, but generally they work the same.
The same kind of work you do with watercolor you can also do with casein, egg tempera,
acrylic, and to some degree, oil paint.
You can work thin and thick with all those things.
And so there are possibilities to play.
The thing I love most about watercolor, frankly, is watercolor—and again gouache—watercolor
you slowly ease into the value.
You’re starting out separating, this is going to dark; this is going to be middle;
this is going to be light.
You can’t get there immediately like you would in oil usually.
Usually in oil you’re going to mix exactly the value you want and slap it onto the canvas.
In watercolor you’ve got to build down to those darker values.
If you’re working on an oatmeal toned paper like we are you’re going to have to build
up to those values too.
To get the dark values it’s going to take two or three or five washes easing down to
Likewise, a similar number going up to those highlights and lighter half-tones.
You can work more aggressively and more directly on that.
We’ll do some of that, too, to be playful and to look for what I call happy accidents.
But, when we want more control, we’re going to be more incremental in doing that.
The advantage of that is we look at our reference.
I’ve got a little reference iPad over here.
Look at our reference and we say, okay, that is a dark value, so number eight value.
Well, if I have to start out at number four and then go to number six and then go to number
eight, and I might find, well, why don’t I keep it just at the four value.
Why don’t I make things lighter in value?
You can play these games in value that we’ll talk about extensively.
Sketchbook is a great way for experimenting and basically doing what-ifs.
What if I made everything a little lighter?
What if I overexposed the image?
What if I underexposed the image?
Made everything a little darker.
What if I made it more contrasted?
You can play these games.
That’s been probably the biggest element, biggest ingredient in my vision, in my style,
where my stuff looks different than most realism or a lot of the realism is in the value games.
I draw a little differently.
I pack the shapes a little differently than other people, but I try and push the values
It’s nothing I invented.
It’s out there in a lot of movement through art history.
Early photography did it a ton.
But people don’t usually pay attention to it.
Most realism is influenced by the atelier which came from the Raphaels on up from there.
They didn’t play with values.
They played with realism.
What could I do to make the clearest reference to form?
They forgot the lessons of Leonardo before him.
So we’re going to explore that.
The sketchbook is a place for great possibilities.
So, having said that and giving you that little intro, let’s start playing around and get
right into it and get into the bones of it.
Let’s switch over to the sketchbook.
I’m a lefty so I hold it like that.
In a sketchbook I sketch like this.
I try not to—every once in a while I’ll have to get in and do a highlight on an eye
or something, but I try to relax it so I’m working not from the little fingers but from
the whole hand or even from the shoulder and sketching through so there is more energy
in the stroke.
That’s how I hold it.
That’s very different than if I’m working from a model on bond paper or toned paper
from life where I’ve got charcoal.
I’ve got my 19 x 24 board and pad.
The model is up on the stage.
Then I will hold it like this.
Same with painting.
With I’m painting I hold it like this and work it in in oil painting because I’m working
With these smaller little studies then it’s a little more precise.
You’ve working incrementally.
I’ll switch here and do like so.
Alright, so this just happens to be the sketchbook I brought.
I’ll just overlap things.
Oftentimes I’ll overlap something I don’t like.
There is a tree study here that was no great shake, so I put a little study over the top.
We’re going to be doing this kind of thing a lot.
We’ll be doing all this a lot.
This is actually an idea for a painting series that popped into my head when I was in an
I was looking at some images that came up on a lecture that weren’t like this, but
brought that to mind.
I was thinking little figures down city streets with big massive architectural shapes behind.
This is my gouache study, just working out basic value systems and working abstractly.
You’ll notice some of these are turned sideways.
I’ll end up at times probably on these pages turning the whole sketchbook upside down.
We’ve got it mounded here so it’s not as mobile.
But I’ll flip the book around to draw over here because I don’t want that ring binding
in my way.
Sometimes I’ll even draw the whole book upside, or the page upside down, so I don’t
have to bump up against this.
Okay, little studies.
This was actually on the airplane coming back from a conference.
Did a few sketches from the—I don’t even remember what the images were.
I think it was in the on-flight magazine or something, just kind of sketching around playing
with shapes and stuff.
Little demonstration on master studies.
I was talking about something I don’t remember.
This is going to be what we’re going to be doing here pretty quick.
Here is the idea for a painting.
It was actually recorded lessons for New Masters.
I’m going to do a painting demo.
It’s going to be a few months before it comes out because I’m going to work wet
over dry, and so each time I come into town for a workshop like this I will do another
pass on the painting.
It will have dried for quite a while.
I’ll come back and work on it.
This is the composition I’ll be working on.
Not the teddy bear.
You can see how simply I’m working.
You can see the dynamics.
What’s the dynamics of shape here?
We have this thrusty v-shape going that way and then kind of a V for the head playing
against it, and a V for the, or a series of V’s for the hands going against it.
How can I play those ideas?
Again, we’ll talk about those things.
We’re going to act very simply or working it out as a little, kind of typical construction
of five minutes or whatever it is, playing several choices.
The sketchbook allows us to work through possibilities and play and play and play.
Another little study over here too.
Working out—shall I make the head tilt back away, tilt towards us a little bit in more
of a straight design.
Should I play up, kind of mushroom out the hair.
Play the round against the straight, maybe?
Play round shapes.
I’m always looking for shape design and how that plays with or contrasts against three-dimensional
or two-dimensional or formed or linear or more organic to architecture.
Just playing those differences.
Here is a little study of one of my little girls.
This is a property, a little chunk of property in the morning mist before the sun came up.
These were from photos.
We’ll do a lot of this kind of stuff this weekend.
I’ll show you how to do that.
It’s great fun to do.
A little study.
I think that was for a class.
I can’t remember.
It might have been me just working things out.
One of the things we find when we sketch loosely and kind of ease into a solution, it may get
a little clunky.
It may not be as gracefully drawn as if we worked it out more carefully.
I’m not really concerned about that.
What I’m looking for is surprises.
Even little things like the lighter half-tone or highlight, wandering off the arm into the
That kind of idea that what should be here is over here might give a sense of movement,
like a flare on a photograph.
You know, if you see a photograph or a video, sometimes it’s the arm, the well-lit or
whatever it is, the highlight on the ring moves, you’ll get a trail of the highlight
that has to catch up because the image gets an over image on it, and we get that trail
So those kinds of things or just a few little simple marks that are fairly crude, but that’s
probably my favorite part of the whole painting is that little hand.
It’s not near as carefully worked out and worked over as the torso, but it’s a lot
fresher and more interesting, and the shapes, although they have all sorts of realistic
problems to them, they’re energetic and interesting, and are really suggestive.
That does a lot of work without a lot of effort.
That means it’s better designed in many senses, even though the realism may suffer,
the energy and the character of things makes up for that.
We can maybe try and take some of that and apply more careful construction to it if we
want to be hard and fast realists.
But I’m always looking for possibilities, and the sketchbook is the best place to do
Notice how I build up slowly to the darker values.
This became the darkest value, then it got darker and then it got darker.
As I changed the value I kept changing my mind and changing the color.
You get these layers of color choices.
One over the top.
I’ll do much the same in the backgrounds and the shadows, which tend to be thinner
in my paintings.
In my oil paintings I do much the same thing.
This was actually, I did that last night in an ask-me-anything session on Facebook and
Did this little study, just playing with shapes and ideas and doing a little rendering.
It doesn’t have a lot of energy.
The shape, design, proportions aren’t really intriguing, but it’s a sketchbook, and so
that’s quite alright.
If I do something like this I really hate, I’ll come over here and do a little tonal
structure, you know, something like this or even this or this over the top of it.
I can get rid of the embarrassing area.
That kind of layering of image crowding an overwhelming image is intriguing.
It looks like it’s daring, you’re just going to keep trying and trying on one page
rather than being precious.
Now we don’t want to do anything else because we want to frame this.
They’ll do another one over here.
Go ahead and let them be a little less precious and let the whole page then have an energy
and it’s own sense of kind of collaged composition to it.
Again, that might—the same kind of scatter-shot random placement here I might end up, it might
inform how I place the trees somehow here in letting that be, give the feel, at least,
of accidental placement.
Here is the color studies and tonal studies for this same painting here.
This is all on camera me doing this.
It won’t be available for a while, but eventually it will pop up.
I took this all from photograph reference in this case.
That’s most what I do these days.
I don’t do a ton from life.
I do some.
And then I worked out typical kind of Brown School statement of it.
What’s it going to look like in terms of value.
How dark do I make the background.
How dark do I make the shadows?
How light do I make the light?
Give a sense of how much detail, variation of color and rendering of form, and indication
of where the busy areas are going to be and where the simple areas are going to be.
Then does it have to be one more kind of Brown School with north light studio light coming
in or typical stoplight, setting it up.
Or can I push it into a nocturne, and that’s what I chose to do.
Notice as I go from one idea and then get a new idea and or try and refine that idea,
I’m refining the big picture, not the rendered detail.
They’ll be times for that when I’ll come over as I did here and attempt, and it was
just an attempt here, attempt to do something more rendered and more nuanced.
It will be successful or not, but even if I screw it up, at least I’m getting to know
those forms a little bit, and I’ll do it again and hopefully not screw it up, or I’ll
take that screw-up as a lesson into my finish and say, okay, I’ve got to be a lot fresher
with the color.
I have to be more interesting in the shapes.
I can’t be so fussy with the highlights.
I need to maybe do something that moves the eye through the color of the cheek, neck,
Maybe it gets too monotonous, so that pale yellow, and I make those corrections.
As I keep coming to new ideas or layers of revelation about what that painting can be
or that image can be, I’ll oftentimes get cruder.
That you really wouldn’t know it was a figure if it wasn’t in context to this.
That’s quite alright.
It’s really beautiful tonal landscape.
I love how close in value these are as opposed to the typical separation there that is demanded
by, say, a Rembrandt style composition.
Maybe it’s much more smokey.
A lot of lost and found, pushing the whole head back darker rather than just making everything
light and shadow, light and shadow the same.
Now I’ve pushed the head back into that murky space by making it go dark into the
relative dark behind it.
That’s interesting to me, so choices, choices, choices.
Here is just working out some ideas on the basic character of the body, basic difference
between male and female, between a stable pose and an unstable pose, how we can push
that into energy, how we can play with the proportions, maybe, of things, to play up
one thing, play down the other, or how even in rather tight or traditional—not tight
but traditional realism—we can add a little bit of a caricature.
You know, this is a wild caricature.
This is a wild caricature.
This is more of a straight read.
Can we find a balance between the two?
Maybe play up the hairstyle or the face shape, playing great differences.
A diamond shape as opposed to a rounder shape, and then the longer and little more weathered
And then how does the hair frame that or play with or play against that?
My premise here is that every great realist is a little bit of a caricature artist, little
bit of a cartoonist.
They’ll overplay and underplay certain features, certain shapes for effect.
When you look at Sargent, those in a very real sense are caricatures of the person that
stood before them.
The neck is longer.
The skin is tighter.
The hair is fuller.
The eye sockets are deeper.
The nose isn’t twisted off or broken.
It’s smoother and more aligned.
Then we could look at basic characters, thin, you know, how thin should thin be?
How normal should normal be?
What’s the difference between a little bit older.
Maybe we have more worried marks, more little details, kind of crowding and noisy on top
of the big details.
How voluptuous, should we make a voluptuous figure, Rubenesque.
Then heavier figures.
Why can’t we do—this is just as beautiful to me.
That creates art of interest.
It doesn’t always have to be this classic ideal of beauty.
It can be something very different.
Look at those incredible shapes to the head.
The zig-zagging of those features there.
That bull neck pushing out and this mass of torso, chest and shoulders below it.
That’s incredibly interesting, and it’s different than the typical.
This is usually what we go to draw.
It’s the young girl.
It’s the pretty woman.
We make sure—should we make her pretty.
She has a fairly ideal figure so we make sure we idealize it.
We don’t want to make her too fat.
She might be upset by that.
We don’t want to make the face asymmetrical.
That might make her ugly.
We make these kind of little pin-up drawings.
There is nothing wrong with that.
There are so many more places to go, and those things you can explore in your sketchbook.
You may need to do this to sell your paintings.
You may enjoy doing this more to sell your paintings or to do your career or to model
the character for the company you’re working for.
And so you might do this most of the time, but we can explore all these other wonderful
venues of melting forms, forms that are pulling down with gravity, that melting wax idea.
There is a big broad, world.
And then taking what we see there and see if we can’t push it into a direction.
We are applying an emotion to it, so add an adjective.
He is aggressive or hungry or ravenous.
What is he ravenous about?
When we start doing that it suggests a story.
Not that I want the picture to tell a story, but I want to be motivated in the marks I
make to reinforce some emotional truth.
Not just capture.
There are times when we just want to capture it.
But can I push things a little bit, push the overall design farther and so just playing
with these marks.
How messy do I want to make the marks?
Do I show that to show that she is windswept?
She is outside with leaves of fall scattering across her and particles in the air?
Or she is windswept and it’s more of a ragged line to show that this beautiful young woman
is emotionally aged.
She has had a tough life.
There are a lot of scars going along with that, the idea of being attractive or whatever
Again, I wouldn’t want to tell a story in my painting about that.
That’s for news feeds, and that’s for fiction novels.
I want things to have an iconic image or iconic sense that it can be symbolic of.
And then the audience had come into that—I’m not going to tell them what I just told you,
but they may well feel it.
I may have done it for completely different purposes, but they’ll read into it.
We allow it to be open.
The sketchbook allows then to be open as well and to try things.
A confident mark as opposed to a hesitant series of marks, a starting and stopping with
hesitancy as opposed to a deep confidence in kind of attacking the form.
That’s going to say something very different in your work to your audience.
Sketchbooks, working this out.
I like this drawing, but that backside does not connect well with the frontside.
But I like the way I did this.
I come back here and do it again and correct there a little bit.
Where should that tummy and hip be compared to that arm and shoulder construction?
It should be a little closer.
It should move this way.
And just these kind of weird marks that are suggestive of the sacrum and the gluteal muscles
as they compress against the ground.
Those might be marks that I pick up in my shadows.
I might do a brown wash shadow like a Sargent portrait or a Van Dyck painting.
I might do these little drawing marks in there.
I’m getting that from the sketchbook, from the freedom of it.
This is not the best-drawn hand, but I love that fluidity there.
I might come back in my rendering, my gouache rendering or my oil painting or my sculpture
and make sure that I do carefully control the proportions of the hand and the construction
of the hand, but I also keep that fluid quality as opposed to if I just block things out they
sit correctly but they’ve lost a little bit of life.
Here I’m going to make sure by referring back to my freer sketches that I begin with
a life and then impose the structure back on top of it.
Notice if I want something to be—let’s see here—say, skinny, how skinny is skinny?
Well, I can do a caricature of that and I can thin all the forms out like I’m doing
in the arms, but also I can pick a pose that maybe doesn’t square off the shoulders so
we get the hourglass shape.
That starts that wider shoulder.
It makes her waist nice and skinny, but it makes her look a little boyish especially
with the short hair.
Maybe I move, maybe I need to stage her into a profile, and so figuring out the staging
of something, exactly what am I going to do for a cropped-in figure?
Kind of a bust shot and up of a figure or wherever.
What’s the best choice for that?
The actual acting out.
If I want to say skinny, an iconic painting of a thin, skinny person, whether that’s
a positive or a negative, whatever commentary I want to put onto that, maybe this zig-zagging
and splayed pose is a much better way to say skinny.
Then we have everything as sticks going in different directions.
And so that, it’s almost like a praying mantis kind of thing going on here.
Maybe then I’m going to be more careful on how much lumps and bumps, how many eggs,
that kind of hourglass idea.
How much of the egg quality I build into that torso.
There we go.
Or just analyzing a little more fluid, energetic line, a little more traditional.
On and on and on.
Just looking for types.
Looking at how that chest and that bent arm coming to this wonderful V or conical shape.
That’s glorious to me.
I love that imagery.
Maybe we’re going to pick that up again then, where we get the thighs coming into
the knees, and then the calves coming into the ankles, and then the feet coming into
Maybe the hair straggling off the head.
Maybe I’m going to use that as a thematic idea, a repetition throughout.
There we go.
So, that’s the idea.
I hope that excites you because I get excited, frankly, just talking about it.
It’s just, to me, fun stuff, and it’s underneath all the skill.
We’re going to talk a lot about skill sets here.
Starting here momentarily.
To me, as I spend more time in my career, it’s less and less about that.
If you look at your favorite artists through history.
I’m going to little sip here of my tea.
If you look at your favorite artists—Rembrandt, Dega come to mind—many of them will get
cruder and cruder and cruder and simpler and simpler as they get older and older and older.
Tintoretto is a good example of that.
Titian, his pitura style, dab paint style that was a precursor to impressionist dabbing
style and Seurat’s pointillism.
You look at those great artists—Michelangelo—and they got simpler and cruder in their technique.
The reason they did that, I think, is because they realized if you just are copying and
capturing, trying to get control of the object in realism then you’re in great danger of
making your art just about the object, whatever that object is.
You caught hold of it.
You slapped it down onto the surface with whatever medium you chose to work with, and
so now what?
You can say, well, good job.
That’s a cylinder.
I’m proud of you.
You did a cylinder.
But, that’s all it says.
What we find with these, a lot of our great talents through history is that they start
to get cruder, make the mark making stronger, the actual strokes and marks start to overwhelm
They start to separate out.
We’re aware of the technique like we are in a hatch, as opposed to grouping things
more carefully so that we see the overall function of it.
The forms themselves get cruder, less gracefully designed, simpler, and oftentimes more distorted.
And then all of a sudden we can’t just look at that object as an idealized beauty.
It is no longer that classic beauty that’s so drives realism, and I understand that.
I’m subject and victim to that too.
I’m rewarded by that.
I get lots of good things from that.
But, if we just focus on that we miss the poetry sometimes.
For we realists, the poetics are in danger because the realism is a reality program.
It just gives you an edited version of a rather uninteresting and unimportant truth.
People trying to fish in dangerous waters or trying to be starts for 15 minutes
or whatever it is.
It’s curious and it’s titillating and it’s kind of fun to sympathize or laugh
at those characters.
It doesn’t mean much.
It doesn’t make our lives principally better other than letting us escape them a little
It doesn’t give us any wisdom to take with us or any real lasting relief.
But, great art, when it deals with the poetics of life, has a chance to do all those good
It has a chance and all the other things.
It can be just fun to explore.
It can be a great escape, and it also has the potential of being something much, much
It is a little redesign of legs.
Can it change the world?
But within this little choice of how this goes together might be part of your greater
vision for a painted series, a world building series, and that’s really what we’re doing
as artists, I think, is we’re building worlds just like the Hollywood movies build them
through digitally now.
They used to build them construction.
We’re doing that too so we can then bring great meaning to that world if we’re able.
It starts here.
What is my—in my world, what happens?
How do we go from thigh to shin through a knee?
Maybe it’s just a really fun—you know, I actually love that little bit there.
This is all shadow up here.
This is going to be an eventually well-structured thigh, presumably, into a shin.
That idea of this really kind of cloud-like looping of compressed forms.
Each one is its own personality before it takes off into this simplified stiff curve.
That’s a wild series of relationships.
Each of these little characters are different, but yet, as a group they’re wildly distinct
from this next character.
That’s a wonderful relationship.
That’s dramatic storytelling, where these are characters.
This is a group of kids, this is the challenge they face in the story.
They all have a lot of similarities, but they face a fish out of water story where they’re
out of their element, and they don’t know how to move through it.
That’s potential great drama there.
It’s great drama at that little moment.
Here is another variation of it.
It’s fun stuff, and those are inventions that we can take into our finish work and
really distinguish ourselves rather than just the traditional, you know, like that little,
that woman’s head study that I did.
That was just straight trying to copy the realism, and it didn’t really do much for us.
It didn’t give us much.
Alright, I’ll shut up before I start talking about other things here.
Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do then.
Let’s get to it.
I’m going to work with.
I gave you this in the materials list, but I’ll say it again just for clarification.
This is oatmeal paper.
Oatmeal is the color.
It’s an acid-free cardstock, which means if you’re given a business card by somebody,
that thick stock, like super-thin cardboard, that’s the amount of thickness this is.
I choose that because when I do anything that has water in it, if I do washes on this as
I could over this or more especially when we get into our watercolor gouache technique,
it’s going, I need a stiff enough paper that it’s not going to warp all over the
They’ll be a little bit of warping, but not much.
That little bit of warping I just find charming.
It allows me to put a lot of heavy use to the paper, and the paper is going to hold up.
Acid-free, means it’s going to last over time.
The acid will eat away and yellow the paper like newspaper.
Newspaper doesn’t last very long.
It yellows, gets brittle, it falls apart.
Anything that has the acids from the tree taken out of it is going to last much, much
Always try to do acid-free if it’s work that’s important to you.
You can’t buy these as sketchbooks anymore.
Someday maybe Art Mentors will be a big enough concern that they can have a store where they
produce some stuff, and I’d encourage them to produce these kind of sketchbooks because
I think they’re wonderful.
But for some reason, they aren’t popular so they don’t produce them anymore the last
time I checked.
You can make your own.
You can get scrapbook paper, and it’s the same kind of cardstock that’s designed to
mount photographs on.
It’s acid-free so that the yellowing of the paper doesn’t yellow the photograph.
You can buy, and you can just buy the oatmeal or any light brown color.
Usually it’s called oatmeal.
You get acid-free scrapbook paper of whatever size you ask or they offer.
Then you can go to any print shop—in America, Kinkos, Office Depot, those kinds of places
where they do copy service for you or signage businesses where they put together signs or
put together business presentations.
They can bind it for you so you can take all your loose paper before you’ve worked on
it, just blank sheets, and have it bound any way you want.
I don’t like the book binding because I want to lay it open, or even I’ll usually
fold it back when I’m working.
Then the ring binding or some version of rind binding allows you to bend it all the way
back, and you don’t have a bound spine that if it’s worked too hard will start to deteriorate
and fall apart.
Then if you really screw up a page, you can rip these out.
I’ve even combined sketchbooks, where I’ll go to the edge here and slip new pieces in
to make a bigger sketchbook.
Alright, so that’s what I’m using.
I’m using a fountain pen.
This is a Waterman Paris, as in the city.
There you can see it there.
I use a fine or a very fine tip so I can get fine lines.
Make sure I’ve got some there.
I’ll use a sepia or brown ink, just black is black so I like to give a little color
especially since I know there is going to be color or value paintings stuck in with it.
It keeps it more in the realm of color rather than total black and white against color pieces.
That’s just my preference, but you can use any.
You just don’t want to use a bright colored ink because those bright colors, when you
put them in the shadow the brightness of those marks are going to look bright, and that’s
going to subvert the shadow idea, which is in some degree a noncolor.
And so we want to keep it fairly gray or muted color in the shadows, and the mark making
has to follow that.
That’s what I’m using.
Later I’ll show you the gouache setup.
What I’m going to do is work on my sketchbook of shapes.
I’m going to look at each object that I want to draw, and I’m going to—we’ll
maybe draw down here, and I’m going to pick a simple shape to represent that.
Just very quickly to remind, and you can refer to my many New Masters.org lessons on construction
and basic drawing stuff to fine tune this.
There is some You-Tube stuff out there for free.
But I want to make the simplest possible shape or structure or form, call it form.
Simple as possible.
But I don’t want to make it generic.
I want to make it simple, yet characteristic.
When I’m choosing what architecture to replace the word with, that’s what I’m doing.
I’m going to draw a grapefruit, but I’m going to draw it as half a circle, half a
I want the simplest possible form.
A half a sphere is pretty simple.
It’s not as simple as a whole sphere, and a three-dimensional sphere is not as simple
as a two-dimensional circle.
So, I want to make it simple, yet characteristic.
And so, as I was talking about say the knee, the little lumpy bumpy knee invention there,
that’s very simple, but it’s very characteristic of a series of forms that are compressing
at that articulated joint.
So, simple, yet characteristic.
In terms of simplicity, that’s going to take some time to reduce things down.
There is a lot going on here, let’s say.
How do we reduce that down into a simple series of slightly bulging discs or slices of balls?
How do we, does each ball have its own character?
That kind of thing.
That takes a while to reduce the world which is so complex and so rich into a series of
Really, it’s the choices you make that is the success of the art that you do.
Over time and practice, of course, you’ll make better and better choices, which means
you’ll get simpler and more distilled ideas.
Maybe a lower leg at times is only a single line rather than all of the architectural
stuff and all the rendered stuff.
It might be simple so I can get it down quickly.
I can redesign if I need to.
It’s going to hopefully then connect simply to the next thing.
Simple does a lot for me.
But, not just simple characteristic.
The simplest possible shape that is still as characteristic as possible of what I see
or my intention of what I’m trying to do.
There is going to be my ellipse.
I’m not trying to, well, I was going to say I’m not trying to make it perfect.
But yeah, at first try and make it as well designed, as well achieved as possible.
Maybe that’s going to be the center where the little white pulpy center is, like so.
You can do more than that
and start out really just drawing in line.
Don’t worry about tone for a while.
We’re going to jump quickly to value just because of the nature of the workshop.
We’re going to go through a lot of material.
I’d love it if you did a sketchbook where it was just things like this, and even coming
up with simple shapes out of your head, drawing simple boxes.
Notice each mark or most of the marks at least, I draw a couple of times.
I can keep the energy going there so I’m not too precious.
I’m not worrying over the surface.
Also, when I worry about each particular direction, sometimes the relationships aren’t right.
Even though I may have been very careful to capture each nuance, the overall image is
So better to be simpler and a little cruder.
One of the things that I can’t do here that I recommend you do, and I kind of scooted
off to the side.
I’m sitting off this way a little bit now to do it, but since I’m a lefty, that’s
an awkward way to draw an ellipse.
This is much better for me.
If you’re a righty, you’re going to probably have an easier time drawing this and a tougher
time drawing that.
You’re going to find some of these forms, the angle of the shape you’re trying to
draw is going to be more challenging for you.
So if you kind of sketch around and sometimes if I have to draw something round I’ll break
it into kind of a chiseled version of that, like a wood carver, I’ll make it a little
more chiseled, and then if I had time in the rendering process, I’ll round things off.
But by doing several lines, you know, some of them might be quite a bit off,
you can center in with a
little bit darker mark, the correct statement, the correct placement, and then move on.
Anything that gets too curvy, too round, you can break down, and then it becomes quite
a bit easier to maintain your control.
You’re going to start, you’ll start if you’re in the beginning of doing these things,
and even if you’re not, we always need practice.
You always can get better.
But in the beginning you’re going to struggle seeing the world super simply, so just say
I see this.
Don’t say I see a grapefruit or I see a thumb.
That doesn’t do you any good.
What’s the simple architectural shape you see?
It represents that.
So for the head I see a bucket.
That bucket has a beveled end on it before it gets interrupted.
And it’s got a little disk shape over here, and it has kind of a wedged top and back that
kind of mushrooms out and then a little top knot on it.
It faces over to the left and has a socket almost like depressed sunglasses.
Emotionally depressed and it’s got a little egg here.
Then you say, shoot, that ear should have been over here, and you move it back.
It’s got a little slice and a little ball for the chin maybe.
You break that down as a simple realization, simple translation.
We’re not copying the world through our choices.
We’re translating it.
And with that translation comes great power, as the phrase suggests, and great responsibility.
You’ve got the means now to do some really powerful things with these marks.
But in the beginning, you have the power to get control of a world that’s uncontrollable.
The still life I’m working from now has a massive amount of information.
All the shiny surfaces of the picture, all of the graphic design that’s twisted and
folded in space on the oriental rug.
All the shimmery juiciness of the grapefruit slice, all the mottled texture of the lemons
All the value and tonal changes and color changes, and then there might be a thick and
thin paint choices, and there are weathered parts of the rug.
It’s a massive amount of information that we can never totally control.
But, by making a few fundamental choices, we can quickly get the idea of it down.
While not being able to control the world, we can be in control of our view, our vision
of the world, and that’s what we try and do in life too.
We pick the facts that reinforce our vision, and we tend to ignore the facts that don’t.
That can make us narrow minded, but it usually makes us happier.
Oftentimes it makes us more successful in life.
We can get along if we see life in this way.
We track our life through it in this way.
Same way with our work here.
Let’s come over here on the other side.
A series of simple, yet characteristic shapes.
Start with the simplest possible shapes.
I’ve got a little lime here.
I can’t quite get a big enough image to see what that little leaf and stem structure
is doing, but let’s say it does that.
There we go.
Did I do it?
I like that, actually.
Did I did it?
We may use that this weekend.
Did I do it in a way that not only was simple, yet characteristic?
Those are my two criteria.
But also, did I do it in a way that—I’m going to keeping ‘did it’ and start to
laugh while I’m talking.
I’ll try not to.
Did I do it in a way that’s exciting?
That’s the other aspect.
That’s what the mileage in a sketchbook does for us.
Whatever we do, if we’re consistent and confident in the marks we make, whether they
are color notations or linear marks or tonal gradations.
If it feels like it’s done with confidence and it’s consistent, then we’re going
to buy into it.
You know, you think of motivational speakers.
They’re super-confident and they’re super-consistent.
They oversimplify the world but we love that.
That’s why we go to them.
That’s why they make the big bucks.
It’s because they’re going to say, if you look at the world this way, you can clean
your house or you can lose weight or you can get the significant other of your dreams,
or whatever their stated goal is.
And there is some truth to that.
The real world is much more complicated than they make it, but if you see the world from
that direction, it gives you a little bit of confidence and a little bit of control
or at least the illusion of control, and usually it actually is not just the illusion.
It usually does give you more control to see it that way.
You usually can have success if you apply those principles.
So that’s what we’re doing here.
I want to make sure the marks are lively.
At first, that might mean that I screw things up.
But keep working on it.
One of the things you can do—I don’t have one by me, but instead of using a fountain
pen, where it’s just brown ink, you can’t really get it much lighter.
You can get it thinner by not pressing on that tip.
It can get ever so lightly but not in any way that you can consistently—as I’m trying
to work out something that’s pretty sophisticated, it’s going to get dark on me.
It’s either black or white or, you know, it’s either blank paper or a black or in
this case a brown mark.
With like a cheap ballpoint pen, Bic Pen is one of the companies, there you can draw much
lighter or even with a pencil you can draw much lighter and then slowly ease into.
Here is a pencil.
We’ll use a little bit of this when we get into gouache.
I can draw that very, very lightly.
For this kind of basic simple sketchbook of doing constructed shapes, I would prefer you
don’t use a pencil or charcoal, that you don’t use something that you can erase because
then you will erase, and then you’re going to fuss over things until you get it just
I would prefer you make a mark, and if it’s bad, it’s bad, and you move on, or you work
You’ll look through my sketchbooks and you’ll find a lot of bad.
You’ll find a couple drawings or paintings here that kind of jump out as successes and
you’ll kind of remember those, God bless you.
But you’ll forget all the bad stuff that I did, all those things that weren’t very
The head, we weren’t underneath the head enough.
The overall proportions are not intriguing.
This is better, but it’s still not quite there.
I could do better yet.
Don’t worry about that stuff.
That’s what the sketchbook is for.
Keep evolving on.
So, let’s see here.
Let’s just draw a few objects in.
Knowing that it’s just my sketchbook, the whole world, at least dozens are watching
me do it.
I’m just giving a suggestion of the wonderful relationships that are presented to me.
I’m trying to find the joy in those relationships.
What do I like about it.
It’s not a bad idea to take things you don’t like.
You may well, as I do, really, I don’t despise doing still lifes, but I used to.
I hated doing them as a student.
Now, they don’t give me the thrill of working with the figure.
There is just nothing like it as far as I’m concerned, but I enjoy looking at these things
for all the reasons I said.
I can steal a little shape design from them.
Everything has its personality.
In the beginning I would just recommend you draw the simple shapes of one object and not
do the whole still life.
We’ll jump to that later.
We look at that.
It’s not very attractive.
In fact, as I look at it, I don’t like how low this sits in my drawing, and I don’t
even like how low it sits in the reference.
I could do better.
I like the top.
I like the way I drew it, and I like its proportions, so I’ll keep that as best I can.
I’m going to try and make these shapes more interesting now.
That means I’m going to keep this up a little higher.
Now I’m making choices.
I’m saying the world has given me this, but I would do it differently than the world.
I’m world building.
I’m making my own reality.
I’m going to lower that a little bit.
Take that down a little bit lower there.
That was pretty clunky.
If I did this in pencil or light lines, I could tease it in several times and find the
That’s not what this is about though.
I don’t want to do that for this.
I want to take a chance, and the chance won’t completely work out.
They’ll be something that I did worse this time, probably, than I did last time.
Hopefully, there will be a couple of things better.
There is some asymmetry there that shouldn’t be there.
Maybe given a sense of where the highlights sit
might be interesting.
And then I’ll be itching to put in values and stuff.
We’re going to save that for a little bit later because I need to talk about how to
For now, I really do just want you to do a sketchbook where it’s linear sketching.
When I was a beginning student my very first semester, we did it in pencil.
We had to do a sketchbook where it was perfect line quality.
You would just draw carefully exactly what it was, and you would erase and correct until
you got that.
It would just be one line moving throughout a very traditional method.
I prefer it looser because I want, as I said, I want happy accidents.
I want energy and discovery.
And I find that realists oftentimes miss both those things.
Now you can see if this is Aladdin’s lamp, then we need to get even more wild Rococo
with the choices.
That’s handled if I do that.
We might open up the angle more.
So now we start getting a little bit more.
Maybe I’ll take this queue as this kind of floral designs.
Or maybe it ends up being kind of a dangerous claw that’s doing that to show this is a
dangerous object or something.
Then we can start taking this basic truth that we’ve distilled down, distilled down.
We put it on the stuff and took out all the dilution and distilled it down to its essence.
That’s what we’re doing in effect as artists.
Now once I understand it at a very fundamental idea and I understand the simple choices I
need to make to get the character that I need to get then I can start designing and redesigning
something into more purposeful direction, more meaningful,
more stylized, whatever it is.
Okay, this is Day 1-5 on the reference, Brian.
And you’ll start to notice simple difficulties.
I’m marking with a dark line, so making it dark and not worried, or making it dark
and not completely screwing it up is difficulty, so I’m doing these kind of quick hatches,
and I’m doing several lines for each line so that I can take the choice, not matter
how that choice develops.
Either I’m just picking one for the final solution, or I’m using that repetition to
compound and complicate the design.
You’re going to find that it’s tricky to do symmetry.
The drama is based on the balance.
Any kind of drama, whether it’s dramatic acting, writing, dancing, or designing in
It’s a balance between, the interesting balance between symmetry and asymmetry.
How much of one as opposed to another?
For example, the figure has great symmetry.
It’s called bilateral symmetry from left or right.
The lateral meaning side-to-side, basically.
The side-to-side symmetry, one eye is very similar.
It’s not exactly the same, but very similar to the other side.
One nipple is very similar to the other nipple.
When it’s not it looks odd to us, and it looks unhealthy oftentimes.
And so beauty, our canons of beauty are most often based on these, not a scarcity in a
society, we live in a fairly abundant society in terms of art history.
It’s actually quite abundant despite the fact that we could all give our complaints.
But, in the olden days where there is true, true scarcity, where a good chunk of the population
every single season starved, for example, then a fat overweight person was considered
Now we want to have it as thin as possible, oftentimes even without reason, and as well-exercised
Way back when you wouldn’t want to be well exercise if you’re an Eskimo.
You need to retain that, slow down.
If you’re out in the scorching sun, you need to retain those calories and that water
content for protection from the cold or from the scorching sun.
We have all sorts of canons, but one of the canons of beauty is symmetry.
If this eye doesn’t look the same as this eye, it looks like there is disease there,
or poor genetics, and so that asymmetry—if one hand is withered and shorter, the one
leg is shorter or the skull is malformed, we consider that not attractive strictly because
it’s not something we want to genetically pass on.
Symmetry has this innate beauty to it.
But it’s also incredibly boring.
I already saw this before over here, more or less.
A little balance between symmetry and asymmetry can go a long way.
For example, a Picasso might do this to the two eyes.
Symmetrically they are the same distance from the center line.
They take up the same space.
They have the same horizontal orientation, but one is square and one is round.
And so I brought in a little asymmetry in that for interest.
Anyway, when you get things that are truly symmetrical here, it gets a little tricky.
There is my best shot.
It tilted off a little bit.
Sometimes, putting down construction lines so that you can see just how far you’ve
got to go so that I can compare this to this and this to this, and I can do it this way
How different is this?
It’s not different at all from that, but it’s a little different from that.
It’s a flatter curve up here.
That construction gritting can help, and you are absolutely welcome in your sketchbook
to do that.
Then we can do more complicated shapes.
Let’s save that for a second, here.
Let’s see here.
We’re going to look at 32, Day 1-32.
I’m going to pick that far right rose.
There are several ways you can approach this construction.
You can break down the whole shape.
Maybe I’m going to use this to contain the whole shape.
If we could see it all.
Notice that whatever we draw of something, the most we’re seeing of it is half.
The other half is on the other side.
If I can see some of the top, I probably can’t see any of the bottom.
For example, if I can see the front, I probably can’t see the back.
Giving the sense of the complete idea is critical.
And so even though I can’t see this whole row, drawing it as a complete shape is a very
good idea, usually.
It’s not going to be exactly right.
You can’t see.
It’s blocked in this case by this other rose here.
Getting a sense of that complete shape is great practice.
I don’t have to get every single bit of it.
I can just get the—I don’t have to get the little imperfections of that folded over
petal or the little slight wobbling that happens there.
It can be simplified and probably should be.
Simple, yet characteristic.
How simple it is, you’re going to make a little different choice about that than I
Well, your version of characteristic may be a little different than mine.
You’re characteristic by being a little more worried shape or wondering shape.
Mine might be a more fluid shape.
Somebody else’s might be more architectural shape for that characteristic.
I could even do a little hatching action here.
Not hatching, a little dotted action here to mark out where eventually we would have
the red or darker versions.
Let me just do this here.
That might be marking where I’m going to have the discoloration of the yellow against
the red on that peach, so it can be inventive and kind of push the envelope a little bit
on the exercise if you want.
I’m quite alright with that, and I probably won’t ever see what she did, so I couldn’t
criticize you even if I wanted to.
Okay, not a bad idea right off the bat.
Even though we’re not putting in value, but drawing the cast shadow.
What that does is it places it in an environment, so immediately you’re thinking about foreground,
You may not be and probably shouldn’t be thinking of light and shadow at this point
This wasn’t he shadow shape that was marking off the discoloration.
Don’t get itno this yet unless you’re at a pretty good level.
Again, I’ll never now if you really follow my suggestion or not, so do what’s fun,
But having a sense of where the folds are going to be as we place that peach in the
environment of the still life is pretty useful.
You could even pick up a little bit of what’s going on here.
You can do a little vignette of the edge of that cup against it, in which case it’s
casting a shadow behind the peach in such a beautiful way.
Now we’re not just isolating all the time, but sometimes we’re creating a sense of
the environment that inhabits, so then we’re very early on in our training thinking about
picture making, which is critical for obvious reasons.
Oftentimes, we’re given these exercises.
You’re going to do color swatches.
You’re going to do line drawing.
You’re going to do concepts for an advertising campaign.
You’re going to do arrangement of simple shapes in a framed field.
Then we don’t know how they relate together.
They’re all just piecemeal.
So, taking the one discipline of drawing simple architectural shapes and then starting to
apply it to an environment or to an arrangement of shapes, even if it’s the arrangement
of the handle to the spout to the vessel, is critical.
I’m constantly trying to take a simple isolated problem and solving it, like how do I approach
half a grapefruit.
What are my choices there?
But also keeping somewhat clear in my mind, or at least in the back of my mind, that it’s
going to be part of a bigger idea.
It’s one stop in a process, and it can’t be completely isolated.
It’s always in relationship.
Then you can take something that’s massively complicated, and this is 34, and you’ll
see, I’m sure on the comments page—these are all posted for you.
You’ll see them in thumbnail form.
Oftentimes, if I click out of this screen—I don’t think you see the other, but I’ve
got a whole, I’ve got 30 images I pulled out for us to work with.
They are at thumbnail stage, being nice and small, of course.
That’s actually better to draw this.
Now, what I’m going to do is I’m not going to draw one object.
I’m going to do pages and pages and sketchbooks and sketchbooks.
We’ll talk about that in a second.
But every day try and do a little bit of that.
I could also just break down the simple shapes of a land mass against an ocean with waves
and maybe the architecture sitting on that land mass.
Really, not even as complicated as what I just did with that little peach, is it?
But now I’ve made a notation.
I’ve distilled down in a meaningful, powerful way, and I’ve done it with confident marks.
If I didn’t, I’d do it again, and maybe I’d do it even smaller and work it out again.
There it is again.
Maybe that’s better.
Maybe it’s worse.
Do it again.
Now I’ve distilled the world down into an incredibly simple solution, and then I can
start building it back towards my realism, towards my style, my technique, my process,
my school of thinking.
Now, notice what we’re doing.
We’ve spent—I don’t know, whatever, we’ve spent 20 minutes of me drawing here,
doing these little marks, and I’ve drawn, whatever, 10 or 15 little shapes here.
If you spent five minutes a day doing this—I just told you at the beginning of our workshop
I’m really going to show you how to do four or five sketchbooks.
You might think, oh my God, just what I need, more work to do.
I don’t have time to do beautiful finishes that I’m working on.
I don’t have time to do a painting of my favorite relative that she asked of me a year
How I’m going to fit in five new sketchbooks?
That’s just too much.
If you just do five minutes a day, and every day pick another sketchbook.
Or, for the next three weeks or six weeks or whatever it is, six months; work on one
Then once on week keep working on that sketchbook, but four times a week work on a second sketchbook.
You’d be drawing five minutes a day in that sketchbook, and you’d get maybe this much
Maybe just the peach done in five minutes, at first.
Maybe you have to draw that peach several times to get it right.
Maybe you have to go over on the side and work out a correction of one little part of
All that is incredibly valuable, and in five minutes a day, you’re working as an artist
every single day.
Here is the thing.
Artists draw and artists paint, and if you’re not drawing and painting, the tough truth
is, you’re not an artist.
It doesn’t take 8 hours a day, 12 hours a day.
In these classes I often bring up the Zorn story.
Zorn, the story goes, it’s maybe improbable, but I tend to think it’s quite possible.
He would go to his school and paint for 8 hours.
He had an 8-hour class five days a week, I guess, every day more or less.
He’d come home and paint four more hours because that wasn’t enough.
We think, yeah, that’s an artist.
How many of us can do that for any length of time?
Sometimes we can arrange our life in such a way for a few years, for a year or two,
or for the first three or four, maybe 10 years we can do that.
But we’ve got to make a living.
We’ve got to deal with family issues, plumbing has leaks, and kitties have to go to this
vet, and life gets in the way.
How many of us can do that for any length of time?
How many people actually would do that if they had that amount of time?
They say they do but would they really do that if they could take a sabbatical from
work or go to an atelier that forces them for a semester or a couple of years to work
that hard and leaves the doors open at night.
Would they really do that?
A few would and God bless them, but most of us wouldn’t.
But all of us can do five minutes a day.
Here’s the thing: if you spend the next week or two or ten doing five minutes a day
every single day, what’s going to happen?
Within a week or two you’ll miss a day, I guarantee it.
The cat died, the plumbing broke, you lost your job, your car stalled out.
You were upset because you got to wait two years for the next Game of Thrones season
to come out.
Something will get in the way and make you really off your game.
The next day you’ll say, well, I better do 10 minutes, but missed that one too for
some other reason.
All of a sudden within a couple of weeks you might be 50 minutes behind and you can’t
just find an hour to spare and frankly don’t want to.
But, if you would do just 5 minutes, and if you do a day or two and then you miss a day,
don’t do 10 minutes.
Do 5 minutes again.
Just keep going.
I missed 6 days, just do 5 minutes a day.
I missed a whole month.
Start up with 5 minutes again.
Pretty soon there will be a time when you’re not missing hardly any days.
What’s going to happen is very soon the 5 minutes will turn into 7 minutes because
I just wanted to put this over here.
And the 7 minutes might turn into 10 minutes.
Every once in a while, it might just be 2 minutes because you’ve got a cramp in your
We’re not going to make up those three minutes that we’re missing.
But pretty soon, your 5 minutes will be 10 or 15 or 20 minutes quite often.
Just think over a year how much drawing, how many pages will we have gone through?
How many sketchbooks will we have gone through just drawing five minutes or so a day.
Letting that five minutes just organically just because we’re in the throws.
We get lost in working out how to get that handled three or four or 10 times.
All of a sudden, the 5 minutes turns into a lot.
Now, look what happens.
If I was planning to do 12 hours a day because my hero Zorn did 12 hours a day, and I’d
never once achieved that, or maybe the first day I’ve achieved that and never again.
I’ve only gotten 8 hours a day.
I’m going to feel like a failure.
I really want to be a Zorn.
I promised myself, I promised my mother.
I promised my mother.
I promised my dying dog I would do 12 hours a day, and I’ve never made more than 8.
One time I did 20 and it felt great, but then I had to sleep 3 days to recover.
I’ve only been doing 8 and sometimes, God forbid, it’s only 6-3/4 hours.
What a failure.
Oftentimes I’m doing half of what I promised I’d do.
At 6-3/4 hours I feel like a failure.
But if you say I only have to do five minutes to be an artist because artists draw, and
as we’ll see, artists paint.
Give me a second here.
All of a sudden, within a few weeks, a few days, a few months, a few years—whatever
it is, we’ll be patient—I’m going to be drawing more or less every single day 5
And if I really pay attention, and I probably will because we’re hyper-scheduled in our
I’m going to find that those five minutes are usually more like 10 or 12 minutes and
sometimes 30, 40 minutes.
I just get lost drawing it.
I’m watching my favorite reruns of friends and I get to, I sit there sketching every
time there is a commercial or every time one of the characters come on I don’t like,
or I know the episode so well I just listen to it as I’m drawing.
I end up oftentimes with 35 minutes.
Now I’m going to feel goal is five, but I’m doing 7 or 10 or 35 every once in a
while, I feel like I’m a superhero.
I feel like I’m really moving along.
Then I look back a year later and I find I’ve gone through six sketchbooks.
Look at how much better I got from the beginning to the end.
Now, we want to joint art workshops where we’ll sketch with other artists from the
model, and we’ll do workshops like this, or we’ll do paint-outs.
All those things are critical, important fun, exciting, full of learning possibilities,
all the good stuff.
That’s not where the mileage happens.
This is where the mileage happens doing a few minutes every day in your sketchbook.
If you can then do 8 hours a day because it’s your job and you love it, as I’m lucky enough
to say, but that’s going to be the difference.
Over 20, 30 years, think about how much that builds up.
It’s like putting a little bit away in an interest-bearing account in your bank every
year since you were 16 or 25.
By the time you are 60, 70 you’ve got a boatload of money in there.
The interest has made it in every more valuable.
The five against the five against the five compounds and becomes even more valuable.
Okay, so, I’ve been talking here for almost 2 hours.
Let’s take a break.
What I’d like you to do is do some sketches just as I did.
We’ve got this lovely collection file full of images.
Pull them up.
For the most part don’t do picture making, although I’ll never know if you decide to,
but just do objects, just simple objects.
Break those down and you can do them just as long as I can do them with a little practice.
If you screw it up do it again.
If you screw it up do it again.
If you get frustrated, go onto something that’s easier.
If you pick things that are a little more organic, you don’t have to worry about the
perfection of them.
Notice none of mine are near-perfect.
So, just work out, just pick the objects that are easiest for you.
Maybe it is doing a few little landscapes like this.
But just work out the easy possibilities.
Make a little note to myself.
Anyway, let’s try that for 25 minutes.
Try and spend not too much time on each drawing, even the variations, and try and get through
a few of them.
Get through at least 3 of them, let’s say.
I want you to really put in some time on this stuff and start to build a rhythm of doing
great drawings; quick, simple characteristic drawings.
We’re going to work with not simple objects, but we’re going to work with landscape this
We’re going to bounce back and forth between it, but I’m going to frame it through landscape.
What I want to do is I want to take whatever landscape, and that can be a cityscape, a
crowd scene whatever, cars in a parking lot.
It doesn’t matter.
I want to take that try and frame that as simple shapes.
Now we’re going to go ahead and add in value on top of that.
We can do this very incrementally and spend 8 days on it.
Do our basic drawing of simple objects and then lighting them, and then doing our landscapes
and lighting them.
We’re going to have to compress things.
You can parse this out.
You can spend several weeks just doing what we just did, drawing simple shapes with little
or no shadow structure.
I bet some of you snuck in some shadow even though I told you not to because I do that
all the time.
Likewise, with a landscape we just do linears.
I did that real simple little kind of almost abstract design.
But we’re going to start with landscape.
I’m going to talk a little bit about that simple design idea.
I’m going to give you a few pointers on that.
Then we’re going to apply very quickly a value system.
It’s going to be a three-value system.
It’s going to be light, middle, dark.
Exactly how light, how middle, how dark—I don’t care too much at this point.
We’ll get more into that when we get into painting in the afternoon.
Right now I just want to create levels of space.
I’m going to create simpler shapes as we’ve been doing and as you just did, but now applying
those simple shapes to landscape, the shape of the waves hitting the beach, the shape
of the beach against the background of the trees and city and that against the sky, whatever
that breakdown is.
We’re going to apply a simple value system to each one so that they simplify, but only
three values to it.
We’ll talk about the whys of that if you don’t know a little bit later, but for now
we’re just going to use simple values.
We’re not going to deal with shading yet.
We won’t deal with shading.
We’re just picking out the trees are darker, the sky is middle, the beach is lighter, that
kind of thing.
Just break it down very simply so that things separate.
What we’re going to find when we start doing that is very quickly we’ll probably default
into anyway, but I’m going to, we’re going to do it with purpose.
We’re going to end up with three levels of space.
We’re going to have a foreground, middle ground, and background.
You don’t have to break it into three.
You can break it into only two.
You can break it into 7 or 8 or 20.
Three is a good simple number.
We do three values in most of drawing and painting systems, and for further explanation
you can look to some of those courses.
But I’ll give it to you now parsed out over time.
What we really want to do is be able to separate space simply.
If we break too many values down too many levels, the far trees from the far cityscapes,
and the far white buildings from the far white clouds.
Those kinds of things.
If we start separating little things or lots of spaces, depths of space, then it gets confusing.
So two, three, or four is the best.
Notice you have to have at least two to have a foreground, background relationship.
What we’re doing is we’re saying that every time I apply a different value to this
set of shapes, shape or set of shapes, as opposed to this, it’s going to show that
it’s closer to me, and this is farther or the reverse.
If I make the beach lighter than the trees, the trees will sit back.
But I could also make the beach darker and the trees lighter.
And it could set back.
It will be framed.
As long as I give each level of space its own value, it’ll start to separate in the
context of that linear drawing that we sketched out, those simple constructed shapes that
we’ve been working on.
That’s what we want to do now.
See how that parses out.
I’m going to give you a little bit of a tutorial on production design the way they
work in film, animated or live action, and a little bit referencing the great landscape
painter Edgar Payne.
Let’s switch down to my sketchbook and we’ll explore that.
Alright, so Edgar Payne had a nice little book on composition and painting that I can’t
remember the title of.
We’ll look it up a little bit later and tell you.
But what he did is he broke down in little thumbnails just like I did here, broke down
all the basic compositions or the major compositions for landscape, and it would be things like
this, let’s say.
We’ve got two trees in foreground and we have—or it could be two buildings going
down an alleyway.
I actually have a reference like this in the reference material that I chose.
Notice that the sides frame a center and draw us into that center.
It creates a sliver in the center you look at or kind of a donut, a target in the center
to look at, and it draws us in.
We can frame it in asymmetry, having the big stuff to the left and the little stuff to
We could do that with a bridge too, coming in, that kind of thing.
We can use meandering streams or streets or pathways.
The pathway is going to be useful.
We’ll see several reference pieces that have pathways.
Pick it’s fences going down.
These kinds of things.
We’re going to play that symmetry, asymmetry idea.
Very symmetrical, slightly asymmetrical, very asymmetrical, playing that in.
A way to basically be drawn into the space, going from shallow space to deep space.
Notice, then, when we start valuing this, giving value, we get a natural grouping of
local colors and values.
All the trees in the ground and the bushes get dark, and all the landscape, cloudscape,
and mountain scapes behind get light.
Notice it has to be at least two values.
It might be three values, but oftentimes in the beginning here, two is all you have to do.
There is three values.
Notice the foreground is very dark.
The background is middle value, and the middle ground is light.
Or we can say the foreground is very dark, and the middle and background are very light.
It wouldn’t have to be very, of course, it could be subtly different.
Notice that we’re taking the idea of value as shadow.
Shadows are very dark and lights are very light to turn the form or to place a form,
on this case on the tabletop, let’s say.
Now we’re applying that same logic, but instead of turning the form, turning the structure,
explaining the structure, now we’re separating the space and explaining the space.
Instead of different value, different plane, it’s different value, different plane.
It’s closer when you get it up there.
What’s closer to us is one value, what’s farther is a different value.
Maybe the close value is very dark.
The middle value is middle value, and the background is relatively light.
We can play this game of values, and then we can play and we’ll do this in paint because
it’s more nuanced.
We can play all sorts of fun games, play the scales of how light light is.
Is light white or is light a light middle value like it is here, the oatmeal paper?
Or does it need to be lighter?
Quite often, with pen and ink, maybe the cloudscape is very light, and the sky and the field is
middle value, and the forest that we’re emerging from is dark.
We can also do gradation so that we gradate that path going in.
Maybe it’s things that get very close to us get super dark.
As they go back away from us they get more and more middle value.
Then when they’re really far away they get really super light.
Now, when you do this, just squint at it.
Notice how by looking at the reference in the thumbnail format on the computer in your
file or on the comments page or on the search engine.
This almost automatically simplifies it for you.
Not every time.
Sometimes you’ll have a mass of stuff and we’ll sort out how to deal with that.
Oftentimes, things will very simply group.
The still life, if we switch to the still life.
It’s the same thinking.
We might have the dark plumbs and grapes and cherries.
We might have the very light picture
We might have the very dark background.
We just break it into two values.
We might add the middle value including the gradation.
The middle value shadow on there.
We make it three values.
Now, just squint at that, and you’ll see it groups just as it should group, hopefully,
despite all the rendering.
We might have the hot highlight on the porcelain, and we might have all sorts of reflected light
in the shadows and nuances in the dark grapes and cherries.
But overall, it’s going to group into three.
Sometimes we need four.
Maybe the shadows on the fruit need a 4th value.
Notice when you squint it still kind of feels like three.
Or it doesn’t, it feels like four.
That would be fine too.
Three is a convenient number.
Oftentimes two is plenty, especially in the initial sketch.
Notice what I’m doing now.
When I have an environment I’m trying to create, I start with very simple shapes and
hopefully each shape, whether it has a suggestion of real form or not, and I would suggest not
at this point like we’re doing here, it each has its own character.
The cityscape behind is architectural.
The beach is simple, sweeping lines, and the surf is quite organic and fluid.
Everything has kind of its own character in shape and even in proportion.
Don’t make everything the same.
If is say here is the sky, here is the field, and here is the picket fence.
Each is very close to the same in size.
That gets monotonous.
It’s better to have things different in proportions and that kind of aesthetic composition.
We’ll delve a little bit into that this week.
Not tons, but that’s another workshop, really.
Anyway, try and make it interesting in terms of shape and proportion, in symmetry and asymmetry.
But very simple and then we simply apply a 2 or 3 value system to it.
Maybe these are the Mesa in Arizona.
There is going to be the white surf frothing on the beach.
I don’t know why you’d have a beach in Arizona, but we do, apparently, and the white
Now in my world, everything that’s close to me is middle to light, and everything that’s
really far from me is middle to light, and the middle ground is very dark, let’s say.
You can place your values anywhere.
We can take our three-value system.
Let me show you how I think of it here.
Let’s switch over to this other page.
I take my three value system, and what I’m really thinking of is like it’s a little
pop-up card set, like you’d make a little stage where you’d have your little characters.
Dancers would be on the front of the stage.
Pretend these are dancers.
You would have the crowd scene in the middle of the stage, and then you would have the
backdrop, the columns and the curtains maybe, on the back of the stage.
These are little paper cutouts.
What I want to do is I want to think of whatever picture I’m looking at.
Here are our actors here in the foreground.
Here is the jury, let’s say, and the jury box in the background.
Here is the windows and columns to our courtroom.
I want to make sure that the foreground is a different value than the middle ground.
I want to make sure the middle ground is a different value.
I’m sorry, the background is a different value than the middle ground.
Now, what happens if I make some of the background the same or similar value as some of the foreground.
They’re going to feel like they’re on the same level of space.
Now, if they’re separated well, we have these high dark windows, let’s say, up here.
They’re well-separated from the two figures in here.
Our potato men, as I’ve drawn them.
But that’s going to create separation, and if I can make this different enough, make
it very dark to middle in the background, just middle dark in the foreground, and very
light in the middle ground.
Give each its distinct value range.
It’s going to separate nicely.
The more distinctly I can do that, the better.
Now, what about planes in space?
What about the field going back to the clouds or the courtroom floor going back to the jury box?
I can just leave it flat or I can use gradation.
As we move closer and closer to that middle ground then it gets lighter and lighter.
We can do a gradation.
Notice how gradation along with linear perspective really helps move us back in space.
Things get lighter and lighter and lighter
or they get darker and darker and darker as they go back.
It can be the path or it can be everything.
It’s darker and darker and darker as it goes back.
And then we could add more on top of it.
Maybe the sky is a black sky.
The storm is coming as they say in every single science fiction movie ever made.
A storm is coming, and you’d better be ready for it, like so.
So that’s our strategy.
They can be a little bit less or a little bit more.
Three values to create our levels of space for separation.
When we want to render, and we’ll do a little bit of rendering with our work here, when
we want to render then it becomes three value ranges.
Let’s say it’s a devil being judged by the jury of angels.
We’ll have all their angel wings, the angel halos, but they’ll all be in the light range
This will be a light range, and this will be a medium dark range, let’s say in front,
and then this is the back gates of hell back here.
Notice if I make the background.
It’s just waiting to take them to their final judgment if they’re judged bad.
Notice if I make the background the same or similar values of foreground, especially if
they make contact, then we’re in big trouble.
Then it flattens.
That can be used too for effect, as we’ll delve into a little bit.
But we lose the figures here, let’s say the defendant and his lawyer and maybe the
surface that they’re on.
We lose them and it becomes the same plane as the background.
Only the middle ground separates.
If I make this path very dark here, and then make the sky very dark here, let’s make
all of this very dark, then this part here and this part here flatten pictorially.
If I make the field the same value as the clouds, they flatten.
Maybe I need to do that.
There is a hold.
There is all this gamesmanship we can play with variations on that.
That’s picture making 101.
I won’t through all of the characteristics.
This isn’t a landscape sketchbook.
We’re going to do actually mainly figure, but I wanted to touch on these other things
because I think it’s so important for the first part of the day, anyway.
But you’ve got a whole range of different possibilities for symmetry and asymmetry.
If you look through that Edgar Payne book—it’s a couple hundred pages, I think.
I think it’s just Edgar Payne on Painting and Composition, something like that.
Or composition for a landscape or some such thing.
You’ll see things just like this just working out those systems.
Then if we apply values we’re all set.
Transcription not available.
You can stick with the same sketchbook, I should say.
Now we can take this same idea of levels of space and add in laws of light.
We won’t go through all of that.
Of course, for this you can look to our other lessons on that if you need to or other sources.
They are plentiful.
But now we’re going to work out a three-value system, not including just foreground and
background as I started to suggest here and slightly here, light and shadow.
Those are your two main separations.
We’re going to separate light from shadow and foreground from background.
Those are our obligations to deal with those.
Sometimes light will not separate from shadow.
The light part of the hat might be the same values of the shadow part of the hair, maybe.
And so they end up being the same value.
Sometimes light and shadow, or something so dark, say, her outfit, that you don’t have
a light and shadow separation at all.
You make it graphic.
Same with the clouds.
We’ll say the clouds in the background might be so light that you don’t separate light
You group it.
Sometimes a foreground element with group into a background element just by design.
You might well have the background scape back there drooping into the dark of the hat.
When that happens it goes flat.
If you don’t separate life from shadow it goes flat.
If you don’t separate foreground from background it goes flat.
If you don’t separate hair from hat it goes flat.
It doesn’t separate.
That might be just the thing because when we make those kind of dramatic choices, I’m
going to let these two things not separate, then what is left over?
I’m not going to separate every wave from each other.
I’m not going to separate the foreground from the background.
When I do that, then what is left over becomes instantly more important.
That’s the power of choices.
By grouping hat hair and background foliage, let’s call it, then the face becomes more
powerful or the white buildings behind become more powerful.
By eliminating things, what’s leftover becomes more important and focuses the attention.
For we realists, we want to put every pillar and every pier in there.
Every strut of the Ferris Wheel in there.
We put every single thing in there and then everything screams for attention.
Every leaf and every bush in there.
Everything fights for attention and nothing separates at all.
It’s like a crowd all screaming “me, me, me” at once.
It doesn’t work.
So, let’s now look at our still life in the same manner but adding light and shadow.
Still lifes are great tutors for we figurative artists because they usually, most of the
still lifes we’re used to—there are exceptions but most that we see—are very Brown School.
It’s dramatic light on them.
Again, at this stage I’m not concerned with doing a really careful job on my drawing,
but what I want is to separate all the dark things from all of the light things.
If I start with two values rather than three values, that’s usually even better.
Notice that by picking out all the darks.
I’m losing a tremendous amount of information on the skull, on this little cup on the apples
separating the foreground vase from the background drapery, especially if I group things together.
It does a tremendous amount of losing information, but now what’s left over is far more important.
The light apple slice and then half of the apple and its partner here and the light skull
and maybe a highlight and the light porcelain and the top of the vase.
There are my three values: light--just spotted, middle, and then the dark.
Look at how much I’ve lost, but also notice when I start combining the dark, local color
objects or local value objects, there is dark fabric behind.
There is a dark wood in the front face, and local objects and the dark shadows that are
accidental to the position of light.
Now you’re getting dark local objects like black hair, black tuxedo, dark background,
dark book even.
Draw it dark.
Those things group together with the shadows, shadows and local colors are grouped together,
and we lose the difference between foreground and background quite a bit, and even as we
did here between light and shadow, we’re not really seeing light and shadow.
Or if we see it, we see it much, much later.
The difference between the lightest part of the fabric and the darkest part.
By losing that information; by designing off the grouping principle, how many things can
I group together, how many silhouettes can I break?
Then what’s leftover becomes incredibly important.
By editing, by making those choices, I get a much more powerful and a much simpler design.
Now, notice as a super-tight renderer, I don’t have to render as much.
These really dark things will tend to get lost in the rendering.
I don’t have to do as much work or sometimes any work at all other than the initial block-in
of dark value, that Brown School breaking things in with the brown umbers and sienna.
Maybe I don’t have to do anything else from that or the dark shadows in the face.
Then the shadows in the background can become very, very simple.
Then I just have a few areas.
Look at how I really have less than half of the surface, probably closer to a third of
the surface area do I have to render in light.
The shadows have simplified.
It’s a very efficient way to work.
You can do more paintings quicker and move through your painting quicker.
Great for deadlines, great for producing a lot of work in your career.
Great for producing a lot of work to get better and better and better quicker and quicker
and quicker, and it’s more dramatic.
By taking out most of the stuff, what’s leftover becomes more powerful.
Notice when we first started on this there were so many things going on.
We first started on this.
With everything going on, everything just got lost, and only by taking out a lot of
stuff and sometimes even most of the stuff, could we organize in an interesting way.
We have great losses.
Things are lost because of that.
Things that are beautiful differences are lost.
But what is leftover is hopefully more valuable and more important and allows us to focus
our energies there and focus the viewer’s attention there.
Okay, so that’s the power of that.
Now we can start looking at very simple objects.
We can draw the line drawings that we talked about before on our break.
Now we can add the shadow shape, and we can do whatever medium you want.
Okay, now that we’re starting to use value a lot, that begs the question about cross-hatching,
how do we make a line equal tone, equal value.
That is a question we will save for after lunch.
I’ll talk about line and tone.
How are we now going to take this lovely instrument that can be devilishly difficult to work with
and get the most out of hatching and cross-hatching.
Using a multitude of lines to say shape, to say depth of value, depth of space.
Different value, different plane.
Turning structures in space so we get the dark side and light side.
Local values, all that kind of stuff.
We’re going to break that down and explore the wide, wide world of cross-hatching.
Transcription not available.
Let’s look at this.
This is a Flanagan.
It’s an illustrator.
I don’t remember the name.
I’ve seen his work before but I didn’t remember the name.
You can see this is actually brush and ink or it’s a really—well, take that back.
It’s actually pen and ink.
Look at how he’s switching to a thick nib and in the clothing there and thinner say
in the hand and face and the background detail.
Let’s just look at the strokes he does.
For example, let’s do this lovely little head and some of the background here.
Excuse my rough voice.
Alright, we’ll just do a little bit of this.
And this is a terrific exercise to do, of course, sketching from masters, really old
masters as we usually think of them, or these early talents.
Okay, I’m just going to lay some of this in the way I lay it in, and then we’ll look
at his particular strokes in a couple of areas here, but just so we’ve got a context for
you to see.
It’s a great nose, isn’t it?
Let me just work this out and then we’ll study his mark making.
There is nothing like working from an artist to appreciate them, of course, studying their
work by copying it is the best way to learn.
See how more experienced and oftentimes more talented artists than ourselves solve the
same problems that we’re struggling to solve.
Look at—remember I talked about the confidence of the stroke or the confidence of the shapes
and how each shapes a personality.
Oftentimes, it’s fairly crude and painterly, which is not atypical of the time.
A lot of the most famous, most talented office worked very loose, rough, crude, and they
would add energy and speed if they were commercially bent.
They could crank out more illustrations.
This is called the golden age of illustration in America because these guys made a ton of
They hung out—there was no TV, so there’s movies, novels, and magazines, so they would
illustrate the magazines and, of course, advertising imagery later.
They were superstars.
They hung out and hob-knobbed it at all the Hollywood parties.
They made as much and sometimes more than the Hollywood stars and starlets.
Charles Dana Gibson, Montgomery Flagg, Edwin Austin Abbey, all these guys were superstars
of the time.
Okay, so now let’s start looking at the strokes here.
You’ll notice the shaved, presumably short cut shaved hair and the beard is tracking
over the form.
It’s wrapping over that jaw.
Notice how these lines move in and are always for the most part—sometimes they’re a
little stiffer than the form would want, but they track generally over the long or short
axis of each of these, every form that they move over.
Notice how he’s using kind of the hatching here.
I’m doing a rough version of what he’s giving us so you get the idea.
Notice that we’re also getting this kind of broken hatched look that gives him that
kind of depression era or about to be depression era—I’m not sure when this was done—but
it gives us that kind of ragged rough.
This is a man of the, you know, he gets dirty for a living.
Maybe it’s a story.
You can see how it feels almost like it’s a hairy collar.
He has to put on his shirt to shave kind of thing.
Notice also how in here he would use a brush in here to fill in.
But notice how he’s using value, flat graphic blacks against the form-based cross-hatching
to get this dynamic value system.
In this case, notice how full-value for the figure in front matches limited lighter value
for the wagon and the side boards to it.
We’re going to do a crude job of this, but that acts just fine really for this particular
Then we get the mottled, here I won’t do all that.
Let’s put this in here like this, give the idea that pattern bandana.
Look at this great graphic shape coming down.
Because of the linear quality of this, they were very conscious.
These hatches are going over the turn of the vest, the form of the vest.
They were very conscious of the silhouette.
Oftentimes, as painters with a brush, with a brush, which is blocking in shapes.
That’s the atelier style of drawing as a painter.
We’re always designing big shapes and then filling them in with value and color.
That’s the whole basis of the academy, French Academy, Russian Academy, Chinese Academy
and atelier system that developed out of that.
It’s shape, shape, shape.
And so, you’re always looking to fill in.
This shape would be chiseled out and refined like a wood carver would refine it to place
Then we’d plug in the value on top of that.
Whereas someone who is drawing with a linear medium like we’re doing here is going to
be tracking that age as an edge more.
It’s going to be more of a linear style, more of a silhouette later, and tracking like
an ant on the surface first in some ways.
Notice the attention to the edge and the personality that this whole silhouette creates against
the side board, the side wood of this board wagon or whatever it is.
Notice what is going on here.
Now he’s opened up these lines.
Now in the background we have a much lighter world, full value foreground.
He has a white vest, a little chunk of it there over on the shoulder, the white vest.
Full-value and really black hat and black shadows.
Full-value foreground, light-to-middle value background.
So those hatches open up.
Notice also the energy of the hatches and the energy of the shapes created is extreme here.
We get into this really painterly marks with the much thicker nib that I don’t have,
but I’ll try and duplicate.
Notice the really wandering shapes there for that fluttering cloth in
the wind or in his movement, whatever is causing that.
All that stuff going on compared to this is all long axis marks.
We track the knots of course, but long axis, long axis, long axis.
There is no attempt at any kind of form description at all for the framework for that canopy that
goes over a board wagon.
It gets reduced to a vague outline.
Excuse me, again.
Anyway, great energy.
A lot of hatches, maybe even most of the hatches are tracking right over the form.
A lot of tension to the texture, not only by creating this kind of tortured outline,
but also by the broken short lines, the scratchy lines.
One of the things you can do is, it’s easier to do with a true nib.
Now I’ve turned over, as you can see, so I can get a lighter line here.
When I do this it opens up the fork, the split.
I can get a thicker line there.
Here I can’t do that because the cupping nature of the nib.
It’s a little thinner.
But if I’m dipping in—what you’ll often see on this illustrations is you’ll have
the illustration here, and then over on the edge off where it’s going to be printed,
you’ll have the artist taking off a lot of the pigment.
Now there is not much there.
Now when I come in I’m getting little hatches there.
That would be the perfect time.
I need a little bit more.
I’m going to use up most of that.
I’m going to come in and I can use that to create this kind of hatching texture for
his beard like that.
Notice how I can come in with a much subtler hatch and build that texture there.
It gives me more control.
Now, when you get up close like these, you can really see the personality of the line
and the abstract mark making.
It’s about the mark, and we start to lose the structure.
Brian, if you can pull back to a double-page spread again, now look at it and kind squint
down at it.
I’m squinting myself.
You’ll see how it kind of groups into these silhouettes, and by stepping back a little
bit visually or physically, those hatches start to get suppressed or completely lost,
Then you just see that image of value range and basic structures and stuff.
What I’ll do is I’ll be sitting at a table.
It’s about the only table I sit when I work now.
When I draw with charcoal I stand.
When I paint I stand.
When I do the gouache studies and when I do the pen and ink, the sketchbook stuff, most
of the time I’ll sit.
I’ll stand to when I think about it.
It’s better for you.
But what I’ll do if I’m sitting, I’ll get up and walk away.
[tapping on table] There is me walking away.
You can hear me walking away.
I’ll walk away from it so I’m not looking at it, I’m looking at the other side of
Then I’ll spin around and look and see it from 10 or 15 feet away and make sure I get
I want this to read like this.
This is going to be a middle value.
This is going to be the dark value.
This will be the light value.
I want to make sure we get that separation there.
Anyway, that’s that.
What you can do, notice here I’m just taking, I just wet my brush with water.
Notice because it’s not Indian Ink, which is waterproof, I can come in here and bring
in carefully or in a painterly way, I can come in and get a wash.
Basically, I’m pulling out whatever is not completely dried out, whatever is soluble.
It’s not staining the page.
I can pull out some or all of that.
I can do that with hatching too to actually get a tone, a value.
There are lots of little tricks that you can do.
Then on the toned paper, this one doesn’t really warrant it, frankly, but I could come
in and get my like values here.
Let me push the light of that vest on there and give that a little extra kick there.
So I’ll do that, especially if I’m doing a real careful, and we’ll get some of those
done today or another time.
I’ll come in and use some white in there to pop off this and get a little extra kick.
Alright, so let’s switch over.
A lot of these guys you will discover for the first time, which is always exciting.
There is incredible—like I said, the late 1800s up until really the first third in the
1900s, but it lasted longer, but the heyday was up through the 30s and 40s, and then printing
it got better and better.
Pen and ink was great early printing because it was just black on white, like newspaper.
You didn’t need any gradation, any half-tone plates going on.
As they got better at creating gradation of value, they moved from engraving, printing,
to pen and ink printing and then to tonal painting and tonal drawing.
Then the pink and ink artists kind of died out, and the only place they stick around
is in comic strips, which is almost a dead art now.
There are some Easings and stuff I know on E-strips, but for the most part the heyday
of that is long gone, and the art form has almost disappeared as a mass media product.
Comic books are going strong still, and sometimes you’ll find illustrated books that have
pen and ink in them.
A lot of times they are pencil but sometimes you’ll see pen and ink.
Okay, so this is Franklin Booth, and you can see how crazy that is and how stylized.
It’s really kind of art nouveau.
Now Franklin Booth, he was around the same time as Flannigan and Dana Gibson, you know,
the first up through the 40s, kind of.
I’m not sure when he died, but 40s, 50s, 60s.
He probably died.
In that first half, certainly of the century of the 20th century was when he was big.
He did not—he was self-taught, and he did not understand the difference between engraving
like you’ll see on the American dollar bill or most dollar bills in the world, or bills
in the world.
It’s these, it’s a mechanical process.
What happens is an artist creates a drawing usually in pencil that’s a full tonal drawing,
and then someone like a Dore for the Paradise Lost—you can look him up, Dore—did these
incredible drawings, and then they have an engraver that they partner with.
The engraver then interprets that drawing by hatches.
The hatches either follow the plane of the sky or the plane of the field or the plane
of the trees, or they track over again as we mentioned; in this case, tracking over
the cloud forms.
Look at how crazy this is and look at how much fun you can have.
Let’s just do a little cloudscape inspired by this Franklin Booth.
You can see these really kind of Rococo shapes.
They remind you of the Fragonard little cloud children, the little cherubs in the sky that
are floating around that he would do.
Notice what he’ll do now is all these cloud forms will all have hatching that tracks either
the long or the short axis.
He’ll put them tighter together as it turns into shadow, and he’ll open them up as they
move back into light.
And I’ll do this now more quickly.
These are always kind of tracking over.
You get these incredible, breaking that line up as it catches the lightest part of the
Long or short axis.
Long or short axis.
Then you can start getting a little crazier with how you break those things up.
They don’t always have to track exactly the billow of a certain cloud form.
They can start getting kind of this way and that.
I might track
and I might just reverse for variety’s sake other areas.
I can let it kind of wander along the nuances like and ant on the surface, an ant skipping
across the surface in this case.
You can have great fun with this.
It’s just kind of, you mesmerize yourself as you see these things appear.
Then notice the sky will be just hatches or they will track kind of the wispy clouds,
and they can do all sorts of things.
Again, you can have great fun having these lost and found lines, but it
sounds relatively true to the flat plane.
The sky is a flat plane structure with a little bit of variation, as I said, but let’s go
back now to the flat plane.
Then we’ll get kind of these wisps of smoky clouds coming in that might be described by
the separation of the hatches.
Then every once in a while he’ll do something like this.
Again, then he’ll put in something that reverses.
Or, you can use where the hatch doesn’t go to describe the
billowing silhouette of the clown.
This kind of more painterly version and more dash version of Klimt, who was inspired by
Dore and all the engravers that would do the early American portraits, for example, Augustus
Saint Godden’s work that was a relief that would be translated into engravings and stuff.
Then he inspired other generations like Mobius who is a very famous—I think that’s how
you spell it—Mobius, Girard was his real name.
I forget his full name.
Mobius was his nom de plume that he went by for comic book art and did these incredible
in the 60s, 70s, and 80s mainly.
There is incredible work.
Did some work for movie but was most known his incredible graphic novels, his incredible
They were crazy, sci-fi fantasy worlds.
This looks much more like Mobius.
He’d do dots and dashes.
Anyway, you can look at the tree there, if you would.
I won’t take the time to draw it out, although it would fun to do.
Look at those incredible sky holes, the incredible attention to the contour, the silhouettes.
Each of these, the cloud form itself and the silhouettes of the tree lines, the standing
cypress tree or eucalyptus tree or whatever the heck that thing is, just incredible attention
to design there.
Just gorgeous stuff.
Let’s take a look at that in Daniel Vierge.
I’m not even sure how you pronounce that.
I’m terrible on foreign pronunciations.
I shouldn’t be but I am.
I always say Vierge but I don’t know how it’s pronounced.
Again, you can see a lot of little lovely careful hatches.
Look at this parsnip or carrot.
They are all tracing.
I’m looking at it underneath this book or scroll or page of the manuscript, whatever
Look at how lovely it is.
Look at how airy and light the shadows are.
There are very few very dark shadows.
That’s one of them there.
Most of the time it’s very, very light.
Then he gets out of here and he starts getting these little dashes.
That’s where Mobius and the Franklin booth before got his style, I would guess.
I don’t know, but I would guess.
Look at the pleasure of having a subtle little hatch to describe the subtle little shadowy
side of that garlic I guess it is.
Then the pleasure of just switching back to line to picking out a little wrinkle, a little
fold in that sheath on the covering that makes up the garlic.
Then the variation of thicker dots of dark against thinner nuanced lines.
It’s just a delight to look at.
Of course, you don’t really see it until you draw it so to spend a little bit of time
with this, it’s closing things together.
It didn’t get the proportion of that shadow as our good friend here has done,
but that’s okay.
Now, all of a sudden it’s a very light and airy feeling just by opening things up.
It gets very light and airy.
We did that just a little bit with that Flannagan, with that kind of depression era kind of tough-man
Here is a little bit of tracking around like a booth would do over the accidental wobblings
Look how he’s changing direction of the strokes just for fun or because it was easier
to turn his pen that way.
Look at how they’re wandering.
I’ll pick that up a little bit more.
Notice how he’s changing directions, and that suggests maybe some other structure,
some other piece of vegetable or fruit under there.
It gives variety, great variety in that shadow.
The broken line breaking the silhouette there.
I’ll take that cue, breaking the silhouette here in my paintings, and for no other reason
than it looks lovely to me, I’ll lose the edge of that shadow into a flare of the background
or vice versa.
The shadow will flare or drop to be able to group to that background, just to break up
that monotony of the same old contour.
So playing with these things.
There are almost infinite possibilities on how you can, the idea that just putting a
dot of paint in my painting I can get from these wonderful little restraints, broken
edge again, I can use this again to paint the newspaper that my wife is holding as Zorn
did of the portrait of his wife reading the newspaper.
So, wonderful stuff.
It’s one of my favorite things to do in the world, work with pen and ink and even
brush and ink.
His is Joseph Clement Coll.
This was Franklin Booth.
Now, look at the Baroque, the expressionistic, and he would even use the tip of a razor blade
to scrape back in an area.
If he wanted to—let’s say the write up here, I can’t get in front of it, of course,
but right where his fingers sit to the left side of his head, see this that light edge
where the hatching doesn’t quite meet the fingers—thank you, Brian.
Right beyond my little Vierge study here.
He didn’t there it doesn’t look like, but he could have well come back in and said
I hatched that through, but I lost that finger.
Let me take the tip of my razor blade and scrape that over.
Or the cheek, incredible, the model’s left is to our right, that right side cheek.
If I got some hatching coming in, I could scrape that back.
You can see some of the pencil drawing underneath, by the way, that he worked with.
Let’s take a look at that, and notice how we have quite the interesting character here.
Look at how that rich black brushed in.
That’s a brush he used.
Look at the expressive lines I guess we’ll call it.
That actually still has some pencil, hoping to define the half-tone of the iris
and the mascara kind of dark on the lower lid.
That’s always a clue that it’s an evil guy when they put mascara on a man like that.
The reserve of these subtle half-tones suggest kind of crow feet of a life not always
lived in pleasure.
There is some of that tracking like Franklin Booth clouds working over.
Then we just want to get the value we want to get.
Now I’m going to go ahead and realize I can track that over the long axis, the downward
axis of my forehead.
Notice that presses that nib hard in the beginning and pulls it off, so we gave a little bit
of that feathering.
It’s called thick to thin.
We can go crazy with that with a brush in a way we never can with pen and ink.
Like I said, if we have time the last day we can kind of vote on that.
We can play around with some of that.
It might be fun.
Most of these strokes are following carefully the form.
There it cuts right through.
Every once in a while, especially in the shadows, and this is typical of most artists.
The shadows generally, when you think of Sargent and Rembrandt shadows have far less form,
far less detail, oftentimes no real rendering, just kind of blocked in.
That’s going to be true of these artists too.
They’ll put a lot less energy into, or they will flat-out avoid giving any kind of tracking
or form in the shadows because they want the shadows to be less volumetric than the lights.
Now he is just going to hatch in here however he needs to, to get the value that he wants.
Notice again the lack of form there in the beginning.
Then he’s going to come back and decide toward the end of this.
I would imagine this deserves a little bit of detail in the shadows,
so we’ll put that in later.
Look at that tortured line.
Again, look at how the faithful tracking of the form when form is an issue.
Look at the power of that, how it really kicks up a notch the understanding of that structure.
We’ll just do this for a little study here.
Okay, and then at the end I’ll decide, well, I can afford
to give a little bit of information there of these forms in the shadows.
I’m showing that bag under the eye.
Gotta have that if you’re going to do work in the early 20th century, something to twirl.
The trick every realist uses, using the negative shape, in this case the mustache, to describe
the positive shape of the end of the nose.
He gets that Salvadore Dali mustache action there.
And so on.
So, see how fun that is?
Notice how we can bring in a tremendous amount of tonal composition into here so I can come
Much like gouache, I can say do I want to have the smoky ghostly—maybe he’s the
evil owner of an opium den.
There is all this opiate smoke and indistinct things floating in that smoke
that we can’t describe and maybe are afraid to look too closely at.
Muwahaha with the evil laugh.
Or do I want to push it way, way dark as he did to give this, he’s in this deep nasty
environment with all this stuff going on.
Oftentimes he’ll do these incredible—let’s see what else we have here of him.
He’ll do these incredible environments, if we can switch.
Look at that, just glorious stuff.
That could be the robes of Raphael the angel coming down from heaven.
I don’t know what it is, frankly.
But it’s incredibly.
Just this glory of shapes.
Talk about an artist and realist.
You can see the figure there.
Oh, I see what it is.
It’s a stegosaurus.
You can see his head down at the bottom there, that little kind of out there.
Right down here.
I had forgotten that one.
This was journey to the center of the earth kind of story.
I can’t remember if that was it, but anyway, there was a monster popping out there.
He was a master of it.
I had stolen heavily from this idea and some of my earlier work and the little bit of comic
book work that I did.
The reason it’s that odd shape is this is for magazine illustrations, and so what he
would do is he would create this interesting shape.
Oftentimes it would be ragged and not cut out the way it is.
You can see that the fellow above is looking off this hidden cliff face, presumably, down
at this monster he’s hoping doesn’t catch him.
He has this wonderful ragged design.
So we get, let’s say, this.
We have the cloud formation do this.
This would all be illustration in here with clouds and the flying creatures coming toward us.
We take that all the way down the page with this really crazy wild shape.
Just beautiful, abstract shape in it of itself.
Then the text would come in here and rag up against it like this.
We’d have space between the two.
This would all be storied.
Once upon a time there is a stegosaurus, on and on and on.
We get this really beautiful synergy on the page of this glorious ragged shape up against,
you can see in this design, a Vierge again.
This glorious ragged shape that’s lovely in of itself, and then it’s bumping up against text.
In this case, this was probably at the top of a chapter heading.
You’ve got the first top third of your page without any kind of type.
Here would be chapter number one or chapter number 26 and then we’d have usually some
decorative beginning here the first letter, and then we’d have the text here.
Vierge would be contracted to create this lovely little vignette as they were called.
It would sit in here and fill that top half.
Sometimes it’d take up the whole half or we’d do a third for the illustration.
A little chunk of space and then the lower half down here.
We’d have that.
And so you get this really lovely graphic of the whole page.
It would be beautifully designed.
Or as I said before, let me do it here, you’d have, let’s say it’s the evil magician
on top of his gargoyle corner of the tower, let’s say.
It’s beautifully worked out as any of these artists could have, and then we’d have chapter
number one, a little decorative beginning.
This would all be left justified, and this would be ragged against the illustration.
You get this wonderful design, and these guys would work these out just like this.
You’ll see something very similar in comic book pages too.
They’ll do the same thing in comic book pages, oftentimes, but it will be other panels
instead of text playing against it.
Anyway, just beautiful stuff and all waiting for us to look at and steal liberally from.
Here is Charles Dana Gibson.
He was the highest paid illustrator in the world up through the 30s.
He was in the 1908, 1909, the 1910s, 1911, 1919, maybe beyond; I don’t remember.
He was getting in those early days $2000 and illustration for something like that, which
was astronomical amount of money.
I don’t know what it translates into now, but he would not knock these out because they’re
beautiful, but he would do these illustrations of a couple eating ice cream at a fountain
shop or something like that.
And his women, his women were called the Gibson Girls.
They were so famous as a type of woman that they were given their own name, the Gibson
Girls, from Charles Dana Gibson.
They are used sometimes today, in illustrations or logos in local outfits.
You’ll still see them every once in a while.
They were slightly fleshy compared to our thin aesthetic today.
They always had their hair up in these loose, beautiful, flowing shapes of hair.
They always had a very full jaw line.
Look at how strong that chin is in profile.
They had deep-set sockets with usually heavy brow, red lips, an almost perfect aquiline
nose, and a lovely long neck.
They’d be dressed up in some lovely 20s outfit with a parasol and a hat or something.
They were fancy.
You can see the fine strokes.
Now, what are those strokes doing?
Are they going through the form or over the form.
Are they going long axis, short axis, or diagonal?
Then notice the strokes that define the face, the fine features, as opposed to the strokes
that define the slightly messy but in a good way loose hair.
Look at those thick strokes.
There he used a pin with a thicker nib.
He used just a fatter nib for the hair and a finer nib for the features.
A lot of these artists would have four, five, or six favorite nibs that they would use.
The tips that would allow more or less ink on the page.
This is from the Watson-Guptill book, “Techniques in Pen and Ink” that I mentioned.
So was that Vierge piece.
You’ll see examples of most of these artists in there that I mentioned.
Here you can see how beautifully the line quality describes.
Notice, for example, let’s see, we’ll do it here, I guess.
Notice, for example, let’s do one of these gables here.
Let’s do one of these gables here.
Now we have the shingled roof, this tutor design.
We have a shingled roof there.
And so those are rough cedar.
I don’t know what they used in Europe.
In America they used cedar.
They are chunks of wood.
They are wide grain wood that have a lot of rough, if you tracked the surface it would
do this, that shingle.
Then you’d put one shingle over top of the next shingle like this.
Notice then how ragged the surface is.
Notice the line he’s using.
He’s using a thicker pen, thicker nib than I’ve got, but notice that line.
He is describing the character.
Even though we’re yards away, he’s describing the character of that surface.
Notice when we get here, the shingles have to track off the gable and back onto the main
They pulled back up but in perspective actually.
I’ll do it this way since I screwed up the perspective on the other one.
All of a sudden, those lines stay ragged, but they get lighter so that we can show that
this facing side of the gable, the dormer here, is catching less light than this is.
The other thing is notice, every once in a while, he goes to that brick pattern, and
then he’ll just hatch away with the loose—or he’ll leave out gaps.
He’ll leave this whole area out and then pick it up again.
There is so much to be learned from looking at these artists.
Notice how these can affect our paint strokes in a wonderful way.
Here he is just using any old direction to show the ambient light bouncing up into that
Here is the same thing but he’s using a darker edge.
Very little detail in the shadows to separate planes just as we would see in a Brown School
They are all working with the same set of information.
The same tools and the pictorial tools and then the actual material lists can change,
but the thinking is very, very much the same.
It won’t matter how I hatch that in because the point is to create the dark value in there.
Make a fairly even value statement out of it.
I miss the decorative bit on that, but that’s okay.
And so on.
Then maybe this will catch a little bit of the light there,
and then we go onto the next idea.
The knees continue on here.
Maybe I want them to be lighter.
That peak separates off the roofline.
It doesn’t feel like it’s attached in right here.
And so on.
Study these things.
Get down and try it.
First just try and match the shape and value maybe.
Just get, this is dark on the side, this is middle, this is light under here or whatever.
Just get that part.
Then come back in as a second go around and actually try and mimic the strokes.
Is he going this way or is he going that way.
Look at that.
He never drew the mullions of the windows.
He just drew the dark space between, and we ended up with the mullions by default, like so.
Okay, so fun, fun stuff.
So fun you have to say fun twice when you talk about it.
Let’s see if there is something else that I want to say.
Did I hit all of them.
Here is the Abbey.
If we could, Brian crop in on that one character.
There you go.
Edwin Austin Abbey was a friend and workmate with John Singer Sargent.
They had a studio in France for a while together.
They rented a farm.
Abbey’s wife, as I remember, made costumes for Abbey’s illustrations and for some of
John Singer Sargent’s work for the Boston Library.
Abbey is a much more typical, terrific artist.
He was a pen and ink artist that got into painting very late.
He did some gorgeous paintings.
He did some King Lear paintings, one in particular where the three daughters, I think it’s
where the two older daughters reveal how nasty they are with the broken Lear with the younger,
faithful daughter leave the scene.
These incredible costumes and incredible composition, beautiful simple colors with his wife’s
costumes made for each character, as far as I know, maybe at least for most of them.
Just a gorgeous piece.
You can see it at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
I’ve looked at it many times.
It’s about 6 feet across.
It’s about 3 x 6 or something like that.
But, he learned to paint because he was such a great pen and ink artist.
That’s where his major illustration career came from.
He learned the value systems so well through pen and ink, line by line, conceiving of that
That gets us realists all the time.
Then when we paint stroke by stroke, we try and track all the little forms on this Joseph
Coll head here.
We try and track all those little forms.
We get lost in the little things and miss the big things.
So, Abbey learned, the great that he was at pen and ink, learned to control the values,
so you can see that his undergarment pants and whatever, the vest, top, and the jacket
is lighter, and the jacket is lighter.
But then the jacket is lighter and the hair is darker.
Same with the shoes down at the socks and same with the legs of the table under the
The tablecloth is overall lighter.
The table legs are overall dark, and the drop curtain background is middle value.
He is very careful, and with the figure that is going back into the background, that figure’s
coat starts to get lost.
The middle value coat starts to get lost in the middle value background, and so that figure
is not as apparent as the fellow on the right who is pronouncing whatever he is pronouncing
for this scene.
This is the 1700s kind of costuming, it looks like.
Anyway, gorgeous stuff, but the point here is one that pen and ink is a great way to
carefully teach value.
It’s a chess match.
You’ve got to plan for all of those marks, all of those strokes, all that mark making,
whether it’s exciting and dynamic like a Coll or delicate and moderate like that little
Vierge, although he’s not always like that.
Or just utilitarian like the Guptill gable.
They have to eat mark by mark.
You have to have that big picture in mind, the big plan for where these marks are taking you.
When you look at his mark making, they’re purely functional really.
It’s just getting in.
Sometimes they track the form.
Oftentimes they don’t.
Sometimes they go over the short axis like the cuff and the sleeve.
Sometimes they go along the diagonal like the side of his coat.
Sometimes they track over the form pretty well, like up on the shoulder
and along the face.
Sometimes they go every which way to show texture like the hair or to fill in value
quickly like the draped background.
There is not great plan of style to it.
It’s just fresh and immediate and whatever works at the moment as opposed to real style.
What I’m saying is in when you look at his work, as gorgeous as it is, it doesn’t really
distinguish itself very much from the illustrators of the day.
Most of them work this way, just doing what needed to be done to fill in that shape and
value based on the drawing.
The drawing styles weren’t all that different either.
I still love them.
I’m not putting it down in any way, but you can see how it’s just, the marks are
being made for that big game plane, for that shape and value that helps build the picture,
whereas some of these other guys like Booth and Coll are very much the stylists.
Those marks serve the same purpose, but they are also very self-conscious marks that attract
attention and the dazzle.
Take your pick.
Learn from all of them and see where it takes you.
Let’s stop there.
What I’d like you guys to do now is another assignment.
Just take another 25 minutes and draw from these things or look from the photo reference
and hatch, do your cross-hatching, your sketching from that.
If you need to, take your pencil and carefully sketch in a 5-minute lay-in to whatever is
going on there to get that thing set down on the page.
God ahead and do that.
Then come in and work out your basic light and shadow shapes.
You can do it very carefully or crudely like this.
Here is going to be my little bit garlic here.
I do that and go ahead and hatch over that.
That’s absolutely appropriate.
That’s what these guys all did.
But anyway, take 25 minutes and do 1 or 2 or 2 or 3, and it doesn’t have to be a whole
big picture, of course, that would take you probably several hours.
It can be just the clove of garlic or just the Gibson head or just a vignette like I
did on the Coll there.
Hope you had a good time drawing there, taking a break.
What I’m going to do now, I’m going to do some still life, and then we’ll go to
figure and spend the rest of the day in figure.
I’m going to draw for about an hour or so, show you how I draw and applying these ideas
and kind of talking back through them.
Tomorrow and the next day we’ll get into the wash and work with that.
Then we’ll bounce back and forth pen and ink some too.
We’ll bounce back and forth with pen and ink some, too, but we’ll spend a good chunk
of tomorrow in gouache and probably most, almost all of the day, I’m guessing the
last day in wash.
Anyway, that is that.
That’s taking care of business.
Now, let’s go ahead and get some drawing done.
Come on over here to sketch pad.
Alright, so, we’ve got this little sketch here, or this little still life here.
Let’s do a little work on it.
I’m going to start with that top orange.
For the most part, I’m going to draw what I need to draw or make the marks I need to
make to get what I’m after.
I’m not going to worry about the style of it.
That can be intimidating, and that can pull us out of the big design.
This is a sketchbook so I can always go back and draw it again.
I’m never too concerned with getting exactly right.
You know, sometimes you need to because of perspective or proportion reasons, but here
a leaf, I make a fat leaf or a skinny leaf or a fat leaf, a fat lemon or a skinny orange,
nobody is going to really notice that.
They’re not going to care.
That takes a little bit of the pressure off.
I’m not going to try and get this just right.
As my philosophy always goes, I don’t really want to get it just right.
I want to try and take it a little bit more personal direction, hopefully.
Okay, I’m actually using, I should say, that new, it says Rodeo Drive on this, and
Monte Verde is the brand.
Monte Verde USA.
Rodeo Drive I guess is the type, the folks here went and bought this.
This is a backup in case my other one went away.
This is a finer nib.
This is a very fine as opposed to my fine nib.
So I’ve got a more strained stroke, which makes it easier, actually and not jumping
into a real dark value real quick, so that makes life a little easier.
You can play with all sorts of ideas.
Whatever strikes you is fine.
It’s just a sketch.
Maybe I’ll play real vertical strokes for the background.
Maybe I’ll cross-hatch vertical and horizontal to suggest the stitching of the fabric.
Maybe that’ll say fabric, almost like a burlap or a thick fabric idea.
Not a bad way to learn drapery design with pen and ink.
You can draw the linear folds and then hatch out those little plane changes as one fold
crimps against another.
If we had time we’d talk about drapery design.
That would be a good workshop in itself.
The fun thing about drapery is you don’t have to worry about proportions very much.
You may for your composition, but the actual drapery if you make a fold bigger or a crimp
smaller or it go to far to the left or right, it doesn’t really do any damage at all,
If you leave out a fold here or there, just like if you leave out a striation of a muscle.
It’s not going to really matter too much.
I like this new pen.
If I draw quick I can’t get a mark down very easily, but it’s not bad having something
you have to fight a bit here.
That can be a good thing.
It slows you down.
Makes you more cautious, sometimes a little more nimble.
Now it’s dying on me completely so I’m going to switch.
Let me try one thing first here.
There we go.
I just dipped it in water and wiped it off.
Notice what I’m doing here.
I’m letting those strokes spiral around the interior of the bowl as it goes that way.
I can do it again a little bit stronger.
Again, I don’t have to be too careful here because how big exactly an orange should be
is a little bit open for debate.
I’m going to go ahead and switch, fighting that.
This is going to be darker so I may want to sneak those dark tones around a little bit.
A transfer pattern I’m going to pick up just ever so lightly.
You can take these as far as we want.
We won’t go super far here.
I’ll make this more painterly since it’s in the background.
This bottle with this hot highlight and that’s about it on it.
You can see how slowly it can build up and how carefully if that’s your need.
Notice I can also use the same stroke making to help lose that into the background so I
make a very specific eye-catching choice, like all verticals and perfect horizontals
than if I use that same into the foreground.
Then that’s going to get a little lost there.
Then I won’t go too much further here.
And you can, like with any medium, you can get more painterly in areas you don’t
want to attract so much attention.
And we could create a vignette here with all the tapestry designs on the oriental
rug and stuff.
Work that down so that creates this shape in of itself.
Maybe it dissipates up here.
I think so.
But anyway, there you have it.
Just plain and just searching out strokes every which way.
It could be more painterly.
You could be more careful with water.
I could take off a little bit off that.
Paper towel and tint.
The oranges like so and the background.
You can see there is quite a bit of ink then you’re going to get, maybe that’s
a tarnished bowl.
Then I could let the wash…Okay.
You can come back with white gouache on top of that or white Conté.
I just drank out of the water for my pen.
I put the brush in my tea and I drank out of
the water glass that I was putting my dirty brush in.
If I don’t make it back tomorrow you know why.
I poisoned myself.
Luckily, I wasn’t using cobalt or cadmium colors.
Alright, so that’s the idea for still life.
Alright, here we go.
Great hair here. Great shape.
One of the things I like about the hatching as I say there is the eyebrow, no, there’s
the eyebrow, and I can ease into it, try to stay a little low.
The other thing I like about this is oftentimes I’ll just draw as I’m drawing here without
a lay-in, and I’ll just do most of the work right away, meaning I do light shadow as well
as the construction altogether and just move on.
There is a real haphazard process to that, and it can create big trouble, of course,
which I did on that little eye there.
Also, it can be just fun to let that kind of develop.
Maybe since this is glued up here, maybe we’ll just make the strokes go every which way and
get pretty wild with that.
Other times I might want to draw in a construction.
I can go any which way. It’s plane.
But see how lively the technique ends up being.
That’s probably the biggest value to it because it’s fresh and full of possibilities.
Go a little darker. You can create the edge of that foot maybe.
Then lose it back here.
Pick up a little bit of Franklin Booth there, for no particular reason.
Okay, one of the things you can do, too, is you can—let me flip this around here.
This is number 13, Lily.
We could sketch a series here.
Okay, so let’s say that’s that.
And then we hit the next progression here.
We'll just end it here.
It’s fun to work real, real small sometimes so you just get the bare essentials.
You just get the bare essentials.
No mark is too far another so it’s a little easier sometimes to contain
the design of things, the proportion of things.
Sometimes the size change gets in the way.
Real small ends up being crowded and out of position.
I like to also draw different sizes just to draw different sizes so I’m prepared to
some degree when I want to put in a small figure in a painting or a drawing or put in
a big monumental.
I don’t feel trapped.
I’ve noticed early on in my career that there are lots of artists that could do something
incredibly well. I wish I could do it that well.
But if you change the scale on the way they worked, the painting fell apart.
If they were really loose and they got big, it looked unfinished.
If they were really tight and it got super small, then maybe it loses the
beauty of design of something.
Usually that happens.
The realist usually stays in one side and never vary because if they get really big
it takes them forever.
If they get really small the amount of time they have to put into something they can’t
make back in cost because they can’t charge as much for a small piece.
There is a bit of square footage real estate involved in pricing art.
Big stuff you can charge more for, almost always.
How big it is, number one, and how complicated is a secondary factor.
So anyway, we can animate through and have fun with that.
Let's do this.
This is 28.
Notice how the hatching brings so much energy into a shape just by putting a value in there,
those hatches create their directional.
We follow movement and so we slash through these forms quite often.
The charm of that can even hide a mistake like a too-small head or something.
We can just let the energy build and hopefully—depending on it to
fix your screw-ups as I was there.
It creates this wonderful, potentially wonderful energy, as they said.
And so, think about now as I’m doing my brush strokes and gouache tomorrow.
I’m back in my studio in the now fast freezing north, working on my oil paint or taking my
thumb and working out the shapes in my sculpture.
Just think of the possibilities.
Notice one of the advantages of hatching in a lot of the information as I go is I get
Remember the Vierge and the Joseph Clement Cole, the vignettes.
I get these vignette silhouettes that if I have to stop are really cool and might suggest
how I want to fade off a foreground/background contrast or a light and shadow contrast to
create this greater shape.
Maybe I want to lose the edge of the jacket into the background or something because I
like that disjointed shape.
I want to play up this and start to have this fade out or some such thing.
It gives me things to think about.
Most of them I’ll reject and say, no, I need to separate that.
Quite often, you go that’s a way to do the old thing in a fresh new way.
And so, at this point, my number one priority in sketchbook is to come up with some new
invention I can sneak into a painting.
At this point, I’d just come in with brush and ink if I had it
and just paint that in.
Okay, this is 23.
Notice how scale has something to do, not all the time, but oftentimes with how much
hatching, how much detail you put in, how energetic the brushstrokes are, and that’s
also a good lesson for a realist.
If I’m going to reduce the scale, I may have to use finer tools, simpler design, edit
out a lot of things that I might normally want to put in and not always put in everything.
Alright, so let’s stop there.
I want you to go ahead now and just sketch yourself and just play.
If you start screwing it up—I really kind of screwed it up.
I got caught up in the dreadlocks and everything.
Just better to actually start over and just begin again.
Then you don’t have to agonize over that too much longer.
You are going to screw up, and that’s okay.
It’s a sketchbook.
If I really screw that up badly maybe I’ll put one of my little gouache paintings over
the top to hide that because the body looks pretty decent.
Then that’s part of the sketchbook.
Or I’ll collage something on top of it or something.
Anyway, you guys go ahead and go for 25 minutes.
Pick any of the references.
You can do landscapes, still life, or figures, and have fun for a few minutes
and just sketch, sketch, sketch.
Pen and ink, pen and ink, fountain pen.
It can be a little ballpoint pen even in pencil if you want.
Give it a shot.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 24sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Introduction to Sketchbooks19m 43s
3. A look at Steve’s sketchbook30m 55s
4. Tips for filling your sketchbook50m 20s
5. Introduction to 3-Value systems22m 47s
6. Demonstrations from Reference19m 5s
7. Incorporating the laws of light10m 32s
8. Introduction to Crosshatching16m 51s
9. Master study: Richard Flanagan16m 40s
10. Master studies: Franklin Booth & Vierge15m 21s
11. Master study: Joseph Clement Coll9m 40s
12. Master study: Joseph Clement Coll (Again)22m 28s
13. Drawings from Sill Life21m 25s
14. Figure Drawing29m 54s