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Notes to Yourself in Your Journal

I find the practice of making even brief notes during or at the end of a sketching session  help me focus where I want to go next. If something turns out too elongated I try again, often with a different pen or tool, as I did here. And I might even make a small diagram […]

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How Do I Keep a Journal or a Sketchbook?

I get asked all the time “How do I keep a journal or a sketchbook?” I teach journaling classes in which students create in visual journals. I teach drawing classes that require students keep a sketchbook. Some people also ask me how journals and sketchbooks differ. The questions have so much “extra” weight. What those […]

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Working Quickly with the Brush Pen

One of my favorite things to do is to work directly, and quickly with a Pentel Pigmented brush pen. I’ll sit and sketch this way when I’m out and about, or when I’m at home watching TV. If Dick is at home I’ll sketch him this way (though those pesky eyebrows of his cause problems!). […]

Brush pen and watercolor sketch made from a Sktchy muse—a young woman wearing a fake beard. (I like to draw beards, what can I say.) The finished page has a Montana Acrylic Marker background applied after the sketch was finished.

Just Try It: Pushing a Drawing Beyond Finished

How do we make decisions, fast decisions, when sketching out in the field? By making decisions during practice, and comparing results. Some people can hold two versions of a piece in their mind and weigh what the future work will look like.  For artists just starting out there might seem to be too many possibilities.  […]

Direct brush watercolor sketch on a 4 x 6 inch scrap of book board that was gessoed before sketching.

Five Things To Do When You’ve Got Paper That’s Just Too Bad To Work With

My recent series on Zeta paper in the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks generated a lot of mail about paper. I know a lot of people get part way into a journal, find they aren’t enjoying the paper and feel constrained about wasting the paper by simply jumping to a new journal. I think to stay […]

A full spread sketch in the largest Hahnemühle Nostalgie sketchbook. I used a Bienfang Magenta watercolor brush pend to start and did the comb and wattles and area around the eye. A little different approach for me because I usually start with the eye. Then I decided to paint some of the features, add color to the background, and also add some stenciling detail to the background.

When Do You Stop? When Is A Drawing Finished

I think the number one question I get from students is: “When do I know my drawing is finished?” Most people aren’t going to like the answer. You’ll know after you’ve taken a ton of sketches past the point of no return. Here’s the thing, you’re asking a question that involves choices both stylistic choices […]

The original sketch which is a light quick pencil sketch, ink sketching added, watercolor, and acrylic marker. It's about 8 x 8 inches square on new Folio paper. (Remember I differentiate between the old style Folio and newer incarnation of that paper.)

Using Photoshop to Quickly Change Background Colors in a Scan

Sometimes you finish a sketch and you wonder, what would happen if I did “this” or “that.” But maybe you don’t want to try “this” or “that” because you don’t want to lose what you already have. I tend not to use Photoshop to change my sketches just because I prefer to work with natural […]

Art Graf 6B water-soluble pencil on two types of watercolor paper with washi tape.

There’s No Undo with Traditional Media—But You Can Scan Versions!

Stressful times send me to the drawing board. We’ve got some family health issues going on right now, so after Dick went to bed last night I stayed up and played with paint for two hours. I was going to do a quick water-soluble graphite portrait sketch from a Sktchy image. But that didn’t satisfy […]

The initial stages of my sketch. After putting in a bit of lime green, I added the background with an acrylic marker.

Learning about Yourself while Messing Around with Mixed Media

The other day I wanted to get some sketching done but it was late. I found a cute puppy photo on the Sktchy app and picked up a red China pencil/marker to do a quick sketch. Then I grabbed a green color pencil—lime green. I started filling in some areas with it. I didn’t have […]

Use What You Have Out

I have a lot of students who tell me they don’t have time to sketch. They tell me they have to make a space to work or they have to get supplies out. They tell me that they don’t have time to make background textures. They also admit that they are doing about 15 other […]

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