Watts Resubmission #2


Here is the first quick sketch of my second exercise resubmission for Watts.  I’ve just not been doing it and not been doing it….

I’ve found the best thing to do when I get stuck like this is to just very very quickly do a sketch – don’t stop and correct just go for it.

Then I went back to make a few adjustments:


Now ready to move on the third and final exercise to be resubmitted….

Scale of my drawing


I thought I’d show you the scale of the drawing and the reference image I posted last night.  Yep, big difference.  My reference image is an 8.5×11 page from the Watts workbook, while my drawing is on 18×24 (mol) smooth newsprint.

I drew this one with vine charcoal – which I kept accidentally wiping off and having to redraw.  The other thing about vine charcoal is that the stick gets stubby and odd shaped after a while and you don’t always draw a line where you think you’re drawing a line, which is very aggravating!  Yes, I know, I should stop and reshape it, but do I, no.  And yes you can sharpen a stick of vine charcoal, did you see my post about the homemade sharpener I made?

My preference in drawing, or painting, is to stand at the easel so I put my drawing board on the easel.  The newsprint I purchased in a roll for economy, I won’t do that again!  So the sheets I tear off are usually not the same size and they curl – hence the ribbon I rigged up at the bottom to hold the pages flat.  Next time I’m getting it in a flat pad.  Only thing is smooth newsprint has to be ordered online – everyone usually carries only rough newsprint – and I worry just how flat it will be after shipping.

The actual reference image I attach to that white holder you sort of see to the left – Watts teaches you how to make one – it is meant to be at the top of your drawing board but with my neck looking to the side is easier than up.  I’m not really sure this is working for me – it skews my viewing I think – so I’m going to try something different, maybe put it on the right or attach something more flat and not at an angel like this holder?  I have read of a method where your reference is beyond your easel to your right (or left), I think my reference would need to be larger for that.

Hmmm, notice how I make things more difficult for myself?  I guess I figure a “real artist” would be able to overcome such inconvenience – when I suspect a “real artist” will take the time to sharpen her charcoal, ha!

Wee Hours of the Morning Drawing

I’m up into the wee hours of the morning drawing…. well, adjusting and adjusting and adjusting.  Hopefully I’m learning the rhythms of the face and learning to see the relationships.  I do tend to make the nose too flat, my chin too far forward, and the lines the wrong angle.  I’ll think I’ve got it right and then step back to look at it and see its off.  Then I adjust, and adjust again.  Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out what’s off – and here is where training my eye begins to happen.  This is the first of the three exercises I need to resubmit for Head I.  I think I’ll leave well enough alone and move to the next one.  Besides I’m tired and need to get to bed – it’s after 2AM!  Ack!

Tracing Test


I decided to do a “tracing test”.  Now I drew from a 3.5×5 2.5×3.5 image.  Of course I drew larger and I wasn’t sure how much larger.  Come to figure out I drew an EXACT 4×6 head!!  Wow!  Go figure!

So I printed the same head out as 4×6.  I traced it.  Then I placed the tracing over my drawing.

In the one you see here I placed the eyes of the tracing over my the eyes in my drawing.  Now my eyes are the right size…. but you can see how my head is off a bit.

Now I didn’t take a photo of it, but if I place the outline of traced head over the outline of my drawing head – they match!!!  But then my features are in the wrong place.


On the right are my notes on what is off if I match the head…

On the left are my notes on what is off if I match the eyes…

I still find it amazing for as much as what is off how very close I came.  And amazed it matched a 4×6.  And how the features themselves are the right size.  So much matches it is eerie.

That said it is off.

I got this idea from the practice in the classroom at Watts Atelier.  Where the instructor puts a piece of tracing paper over your drawing to correct it and you can use the tracing to make corrections.  So much better I think then the teacher making changes to your drawing.

I will say this…. that working from the smaller 3.4×5 2.5×3.5 image is more difficult then with the 4×6 – with the 4×6 things are much clearer.  So I am totally amazed at how accurate I was from such a small reference.   So I think I try drawing from 4×6 images.

Watts Grading

I received the grading on my final Watts Head I exercises.  I have to resubmit the ones above.  The comments on those they passed were:

  • nose too wide and flat
  • face a bit too wide
  • cranium too small & face too long
  • chin and nose wide, eyes too far apart
  • chin/lower third sticking out too far
  • chin sticks out too far
  • nose long & chin sticks out
  • face wide and nose large

Seems to be a trend there…. noses, chins and proportion issues, which I know I struggle with, especially the width of faces and heads.

The only one that didn’t have comments – only a “very nicely done” is this one:


And they liked this guy with only a note that the chin sticks out too much – never thought this one would pass, go figure:

Watts Classic Profile #2

Watts Classic Profile #2

Even this guy, who I just threw in there feeling bad about it passed – although the nose was too long and again the chin sticks out:


Now these might have been perfectly good faces if the faces actually looked like that, with jutting chins and long noses.  I seems to do ok with the planes themselves.

So now I’ll redraw and resubmit and I can move forward with Heads II.

Day #2 – Finally!


Daily?  Wellll, perhaps not.  I thought I would just draw a few doodles of the abstraction model…. I think I got worse rather than better – go figure.  Although…. I did learn a few things – just seems that when applying them I get a little lost – sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

Project: The Eyes Have It


I have always been fascinated with the eyes painted by the jazz age artist Tamara de Lempicka.  It is my opinion that she models many of the eyes in her paintings after her own eyes.  But I love that roundness that she manages to capture, but then that roundness is reflected in the faces and figures as well… fascinating.

I have decided to move forward in my study at Watts Atelier with Heads II.  After debating whether to jump right into painting… impatient me… I’ve determined that I will continue with drawing the head, my original intention, and move forward with Heads II.  Heads II is all about drawing the individual features and moving towards the realistic face by drawing a few casts.

Meanwhile, I will continue my Daily Drawing to practice the drawing skills taught in Heads I – and in this practice I will begin branching out drawing from the live model, something very necessary to my development.

I will begin working through Heads II at Watts.

PLUS I am beginning a project that I call THE EYES HAVE IT (SOUL) where I will be drawing individual eyes, and painting individual eyes, realistically – and then painting individual eyes intuitively, aka with imagination.  I have asked for volunteers willing to be an eye model and a few gracious souls have already volunteered.

I think it is because of eyes that I am so drawn to drawing and painting portraits/faces.

Heads II isn’t likely to take as long as Heads I – so in September I should be beginning the Watts painting class Gouache I.  I do admit to being antsy to begin painting already.

Day #1: Revisited

I went back and worked on my sketch – doing more shading, tone and value.  Not all that easy with a mechanical pencil.  I used it like a charcoal pencil with lines in one direction, no cross hatching, varying my pressure with the pencil.

I’m tempted to continue to mess with it, I still see more that could change, but really I have to move on!

Oh, I have a new project that I’ll have to tell you about – and share where I’m heading next and the Atelier.

Day #1: Daily Drawing


I went out on the internet and found some images of alternate planes of the head models which I found intriguing.  Of course drawing these just might confuse me, we’ll see.  I read some criticism of this way of learning to draw a head – seems the artist felt one could get too dependent upon it.  After all the real human face rarely has perfect symmetry.

Really it is all a matter of TRAINING THE EYE to see.

Meanwhile, my guy look a little happier then the model.  I think I’ll wait a week or so when perhaps I’ve forgotten this guy and draw him again and see what happens after a bit more practice.

Daily Drawing


I have gone ahead and submitted the exercises for the final class in Watts Drawing the Head I.  Up to now I have always submitted my first try, so rather than redo that last one I went with it.  I’ll probably get it back but it will come with comments, hopefully, telling me what is wrong (probably what I already know).  It will be a week or so before I get a response.  Meanwhile I’m diving into PRACTICE!

Every day I will be drawing and experimenting with what I have been learning so far.  I will draw my own Asaro heads, Leo and Vincent.  I will draw from online references, like the one above.  I will draw from book references and from artist references.  I will draw from memory and imagination and make up my own exercises.  I will use various pencils, charcoal, watercolor pencils, and pen and ink.  Small ones, large ones – messy ones, neat ones.

The point is I will draw and draw and draw in order to reinforce what I have been learning.

My ultimate goal is 100DaysofDailyDrawing.  This will take me right through October and The Big Draw Challenge.

Meanwhile, I’m deciding this week what class to take next at Watts.  Move ahead to Heads II, which is all about the features of the face (nose, mouth, eyes, ears).  -or- Dive into Portrait I, which is painting these same poses I’ve been drawing.  -or- Try Gouache I – which I think teaches working shape recognition painting.

I have to say I’m thinking a combination of Heads II and Gouache I (which I was originally going to do – but then I had another idea, sigh).  Even though I’m tempted to dive into Portrait I it might be best to wait until I’ve spent more time in drawing practice.

Moving to the sketchbook


I thought for these last two exercises I move from standing at the easel to sitting in the chair with my sketchbook, a rather large sketchbook but a sketchbook nevertheless.  From using charcoal to using a pencil.

I found that if you sit crooked, hence your arm and the sketchbook are a bit skewed, that you will draw crooked.  So took a little adjustment and may still be a bit off.

Just one more exercise to finish exercises for Watts Head I, Classic Asaro.

3 sketches in one day…


I completed 3 sketches today.  Suddenly I’m on quite a roll.  I think because I’m playing a bit more – allowing myself to explore and experiment.  Do a little bit more of my own thing and not be so concerned with doing it “right”/aka: as taught and demonstrated by Watts.

I have been getting far too linear in my thinking.  I’m afraid that attending classes has something to do with that linear thinking.

My time in the STudio has turned into watching classes and then doing the exercises (in order by the way) and then getting back my comments and then resubmitting any exercises and then once I passed moving on to the next class (in order by the way) and the next exercise….  My goals had inadvertently become all about getting to the next and the next and the next with barely a thought to what I was learning.  Or, more importantly, taking the time to explore what I am learning.

THIS ISN’T ABOUT PASSING A CLASS!  It isn’t about getting a grade (even if the grade is only pass/fail).  It is about improving my drawing, and eventually painting, skills.  Feeling more confident in my artistic skills.

Is attending Watts improving my skills?  Yes, I think it is.  But I need to slow down and absorb what I’m learning – not just move on to the next exercise and the next.

I hope I’m recovering from my linear tunnel vision.

What I’m Reading

I thought I would take a moment to record what I’m currently reading in relation to art.  I am finding that I need to step outside the Watts classroom to expand what I’m learning – and to expand my own creative thinking.

UNthink by Erik Wahl

The WAR of ART by Steven Pressfield

The Nine Modern Day Muses by Jill Badonsky

Classical Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides

and its compliment Lessons in Classical Drawing

I’m not exactly reading these all the same time… but I am reading at least two at the same time.

I’m currently making a point to take time out for ART READING every day – just as important as TIME IN THE STUDIO.

I’ve been getting a little too linear – I’ll talk about this more tomorrow.

Loosy-Goosy aka: Quick Sketch


I haven’t been sketching lately.  I think I’ve been afraid.  Afraid I’m not going to do this “right”.

So it took some courage to step up to my canvas today and pick up a pencil and… being to draw.

I just let go – without worrying whether I was doing it “right”.  I reminded myself – in a tiny little voice – that I could do this.

I drew the first line and then just went around the portrait sketching lines all loosy-goosy (I think this is formally called a “quick sketch”) and going with the flow really.

And you know what?  It worked out amazingly well !!!  This looks as good, if not better, then faces where I agonized over doing each line “right”.

Is he perfect?  No.  But is he pretty darn good?  Yes.

I forgot something I’ve already learned in just drawing on my self-taught own – I have a pretty darn good eye!  And some decent hand-eye coordination.

Ahhh, this feels good.  Have I been resisting because I just don’t feel “good enough”?  As always, sigh.

This guy proves to me what I’m capable of when I just let go of my perfectionist/not good enough thought patterns.

And I plan to turn him in just the way he is.

August Artist Inspiration


The purpose of art is not to produce a product. The purpose of art is to produce thinking. The secret is not the mechanics or technical skill that create art – but the process of introspection and different levels of contemplation that generate it. Once you learn to embrace this process, your creative potential is limitless.

Artwork should be an active verb (a lens by which to view the world) not a passive noun (a painting that sits dormant in a museum). Creativity lies NOT in the done but in the doing. Art is active and incomplete. Always shifting, always becoming. Art is a sneak peak into the future of potential, of what could be. Not a past result of what has been already done. Art is a process not a product.

Art is a human act. Art is Risky. Generous. Courageous. Provocative. You can be perfect, or you can make art. You can keep track of what you will get in return for your effort, or you can make art. You can enjoy the status quo, or you can make art.

This is the purpose for why art should not be cut from education.

Erik Wahl
UNthink his book I’ve check out of the library for Inspirational Reading for August

Meet Gladys, my Good Witch Muse


Her name has always been Gladys, although I originally did try to name her something else.  But Gladys she insists on being called.  She is named for an artist/professor/friend of mine: Dr. Gladys Shafran Kashdin.

She hangs above my art table, from the Ott light.  Looking down as if to bless my work.

She is my Good Witch Muse, as well as a Fairy Godmother – full of blessings and wishes.

She seems happy that I’m back on my proper path.


today I cut my right index finger and I’m not sure I can draw with this bulky band aide, sigh.

Back on the yellow brick road…


I just dived back in with drawing the next exercise.

The challenge with the Classic Asaro head is the how the two sides are different – one side reflects the structure of a young face, the other the structure of an aged face.  The challenge is the eye wants to make the two sides the same and judging measurements can be difficult.

Lots of adjustments and measurements and erasures on this one.

It does feel good to be back on track….

Lost And Found


If I were Artist Dorothy in Oz it is quite possible that my internal Wicked Witch Muse could have lured me to painting poppies as a distraction from traveling the yellow brick road to the Emerald Art City.

Here I was happily journeying along the yellow brick road with Watts, learning to draw, beginning to grasp the concepts, and looking forward to a future of painting portraits in the Emerald Art City, when I got distracted at the poppy field.

Yes, Making a Mark is not a project it was just one big Flying Monkey distraction!

I’ve packed up all the abstract art supplies and the abstract art books and all the Robert Burridge information that had begun to clutter my newly re-organized STudio space and put it all away.  Someday I may indeed bring it all out again, but the time is not yet.

I pulled my Watts Atelier/Heads workbook off the shelf, have my drawing supplies to hand – and even a brand new Samsung Galaxy 4 10.1″ tablet (purchased Wednesday) to view art classes on.

Did I mention that I got my Head Abstraction Exercises back and I passed 100% on the first try?  First time I’ve passed a section on the first tray – not that there weren’t comments on things I need to improve on.

So here I am on the last segment of Head I – one last art class video to watch – 10 more (out of 12) exercises to draw and turn in – probably will get some of these back to redo – so probably another three weeks to complete my first semester.  A little longer then I planned – but then I had to deal with Flying Monkeys.

I have the Orbik class to look forward to, a new perspective on this method of drawing – perhaps not on the timeline I had originally established but I keep forgetting I am the one who sets these schedules and I can change them as I want to for heaven’s sake.

I have some practice related to what I’m learning that I have in mind to experiment with – but how is it that I convince myself that I don’t have the time for that?  Why do I resist?


I’ll have to work on the creative flow….

The wonder of Van Gogh

vangogh starrynightotherI was reading this review by Julian Barnes in the London Review of Books – a review of two books on Van Gogh.  On reading it I was reminded how Van Gogh’s art talks to my heart and emotions – not my mind, not intellectually, not artsy fartsy – but cuts to my very soul through WONDER.  Van Gogh captured his own unique view of the world, he wrenched it out, and it always leaves me, and I think everyone else, stunned into wonder.  I like this quote by the reviewer:

Rather, it is the case that the painter’s desperate sincerity, his audacious, resplendent colour and his intense desire to make painting ‘a consolatory art for distressed hearts’ ….. And that is no bad place to be.

Art as “a consolatory art for distressed hearts’, a phrase take from one of Van Gogh’s letters, I like that.  The reviewer’s point was, I think, how we never tire of Van Gogh – because how we see him never changes over time for us – he always cuts to the quick.

This also reminds me of the art class I bought Studying Under The Masters – which includes on segment on Van Gogh.  I’m going to have to dig that out.

Making a Mark: abstracts and color


I have decided that I want to work with artist Robert Burridge’s color wheel, where he generously translates his colors into the names of other brands, like Golden.  While giving a nod to my favorite artist inspiration, Jonas Gerard.

In his Artsy Fartsy Newsletters Burridge provided exercises in working with each of his color combinations.  I went to his archive and printed these out and I intend to work with each one of them.  (I know I printed this out years ago and can’t find them, sigh.)

Today – now having totally reorganized my STudio space, I got lost there for a while – I turned on flamenco music, picked up one of my brushes with the longer handles, picked up the first colors…. and began.

Dancing and painting – as loosely as I could.  That is key with Burridge to loosen up.