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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 […]

9 x 12 inch Wave paper "waste sheet" for cleaning silicone tipped spatula tool of acrylics. With Pentel brush pen sketch on top. (Sktchy photo inspiration—Macho Iberico.)

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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A Bit of Watercolor in the Seawhite of Brighton Sketchbook

Note: I discovered while creating this post that I've been listing this commercially bound journal as "Seabright" not "Seawhite." I apologize for the confusion if this has caused you any. I just have to plead stress and exhaustion from some family duties. I'm not using this journal every day and I simply failed one day […]

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Project Friday: Just Get Something Down on Paper

Above: Selfie made with bold Uni Posca pen (orange, the tip is about 1/4 inch wide) and a Sakura Pigment Medium Brush Pen (solid tip). The drawing is in a 9 x 12 inch Dylusions journal—which I cannot recommend for structural reasons specific to how I work. I'm sorry, but when I've worked in it […]

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Cynicism, Hope, and Painting’s Life Lessons

Above: Sketch of Dick sitting in the TV room next to a bright light. Read below for details. Friday was movie night and we watched “Welcome to Happiness.” It’s a quirky film that doesn’t have super heroes, mutants, or trips into galaxies far, far away. I enjoyed almost every moment, though more than once I […]

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