My upcoming online courses

ValWebb - HouseSparrowABirds in Colored Pencil
Starting January 6, 2014
9 Lessons – work at your own pace
$50

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD SUPPLY LIST

With step-by-step guidance, learn to create “gentle pencil” foundation drawings and then layer rich colors on top to create elegantly detailed, illustration-quality colored pencil images. This course uses detailed video demonstrations of technique, step-by-step illustrated printables and personal feedback on completed projects. New lessons post every Monday on our class website for nine weeks, but you have four full months to complete the material. We’ll mix up classical drawing theory with a dose of natural history, with topics including drawing feather texture, drawing birds in flight, shading for highlights and shadows, color blending, basic bird anatomy, drawing birds of prey, drawing backgrounds and habitat, drawing birds’ eggs and nests, and much more. No experience necessary, and the supply list is quite basic. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at studio@valwebb.com.

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Winter Session poster - CopyADrawn & Decorated Watercolor Lettering
Starting January 13, 2014
10 Lessons – work at your own pace
$50

CLICK TO PRINT SUPPLY LIST PART 1

CLICK TO PRINT SUPPLY LIST PART 2

No previous experience necessary! Learn to create decorated letters using watercolor, Pigma Micron pens, pencils and a brush. Participants will have four months to complete ten projects. Class projects include:

  • Three easy methods for making decorative and illuminated initials.
  • Surprisingly simple techniques for Celtic knotwork.
  • Using “quickhand” techniques to make art journals or notebooks more beautiful.
  • Colorful, whimsical letters based on medieval alphabets (how to draw them, how to use them).
  • Creative page design that combines lettering and other images.
  • Vines and flourishes – watercolor letters inspired by Art Nouveau.
  • Guidelines for designing your own unique personal alphabet.
  • Combining color, form and attitude to make your letters sing.

Registered participants will receive access to:

  • Video demonstrations with step-by-step guidance for each technique.
  • A warm-up lettering exercise for each lesson.
  • Illustrated instructions (PDF)
  • Examples for each lesson, designed to guide and inspire you.
  • Personal help when needed and feedback when each lesson is completed.

Pre-registration is required, and is payable either by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at studio@valwebb.com.

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Blog page dog

Drawing Dogs & Cats
Starting January 27, 2014
8 Lessons – work at your own pace
$50

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD SUPPLY LIST

No experience necessary — the only prerequisite for this course is a love of our four-legged family members. Working in pencil for some projects, black-and-white charcoal pencil for others, develop your drawing skills by learning to create glossy fur, expressive eyes, animals in action and at rest. Topics include drawing puppies and kittens at different stages of growth, four techniques for drawing white fur, drawing realistic dog noses, drawing dog and cat caricatures and more. Very minimal supply list. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at studio@valwebb.com.

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NEW COURSE!

Val Webb - heron fisherman2blogpage coneflower fairy

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Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature
Starting February 17, 2014
10 Lessons – work at your own pace
Includes 24 illustrated pdf pages of step-by-step techniques
Bonus: Printable version of Val’s hand-lettered fairy sketchbook
$85

This information-packed course begins with techniques for drawing fairy children, then combines these lovely and legendary creatures with botanical, bird, insect and small animal subjects of your choice to form the unique hidden world just beyond our garden gates. Learn about fairy proportion from infant to adolescent, how to show physical and facial expressions, how to draw assorted wings and attire, how to create a background, how to draw fairies in action (and in flight) or at rest. Discover techniques for using color to create a rich natural atmosphere. We’ll use a combination of pencil and watercolor — with a touch of colored pencil — for our weekly warm-up exercises and drawing projects. The set of printable illustrated pdf pages that accompany the lessons will form a drawing handbook to keep your fairy-drawing skills fresh long after the course has concluded. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at studio@valwebb.com.

PLEASE NOTE: This course is open to anyone, regardless of drawing experience, but you will enjoy it (and benefit from it) more if you already have some basic drawing skills. If you are new to drawing, I encourage you to take any of my other online courses first — then sign up for Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature.

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Val Webb - Culinary Herbs (2)

Draw & Paint Six Culinary Herbs
Starting March 3, 2014
10 Lessons – work at your own pace
$50

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD SUPPLY LIST

It’s not your typical botanical drawing course. My new online class series, “Draw & Paint Six Culinary Herbs,” will incorporate all the things that make the humble kitchen garden a place of a thousand small delights. In addition to learning to create softly shaded pencil studies, spirited ink-and-wash sketches and richly layered color renderings that combine watercolor and colored pencil, we’ll also explore the history and folklore associated with our six herbs. Each lesson will include art demo videos, printable illustrated instruction pages and photo tutorials posted on our private class website — as well as illustrated tips on growing, harvesting and using our culinary collection. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at studio@valwebb.com.

All images and text (c) 2013 Val Webb

An online course in drawing fairies

Instagram fairyI love drawing fairies. They allow me to combine all my favorite art subjects (children, botanicals, birds, insects, small furry animals) in various whimsical combinations to create a gentle world where you can fish from the top of a Great Blue Heron or hitch a ride on a passing opossum.

Starting on February 17, 2014, I will teach a very special online course, Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature. This is the most ambitious course I’ve ever created, and in addition to 10 interactive lessons there will be 24 illustrated pdf pages that can be assembled to make a handbook of my fairy drawing techniques. Each participant will also get a printable version of my personal hand-lettered fairy sketchbook.

Learn about fairy proportion from infant to adolescent, how to show physical and facial expressions, how to draw assorted wings and attire, how to create a background, how to draw fairies in action (and in flight) or at rest. Discover techniques for using color to create a rich natural atmosphere. We’ll use a combination of pencil and watercolor — with a touch of colored pencil — for our weekly warm-up exercises and drawing projects.

As always, lessons will post on a password-protected website weekly and are work-at-your-own-pace. There will be a four-month window for completion of the course, and I will provide personal guidance and feedback whenever you request it.

While this course is open to students at all levels of art experience, you will enjoy it much more if you already have a few basic drawing skills. If you are just starting out, I encourage you to sign up for one of my other drawing courses first … and then take Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature.

The cost of the course is $85. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by a check or PayPal. (You do not have to have a PayPal account to make the payment.) There will be a limited number of participants, so your payment must be received to hold your place. To sign up, email me at studio@valwebb.com.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SUPPLY LIST

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The fun of drawing iridescent feathers

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L6 Drawing table grackle

There’s nothing fancy about the boat-tailed grackle, a lanky relative of the blackbird and the oriole. Grackles populate the coast from Texas to Long Island, and are the goats of the bird kingdom — they will eat just about anything they find, from small crustaceans to scavenged dumpster fare.

But if you have a hankering to try drawing an iridescent surface, the boat-tailed grackle is your ideal model. A sheen of shimmering blue, purple or copper play over these birds in sunlight. Microscopic structures on their feathers break light apart, like a prism, and create a reflected rainbow.

(This fellow was drawn with Prismacolor colored pencils on medium-weight Bristol vellum. He was the demonstration drawing for my online course, Birds in Colored Pencil.)

Drawing white fur

dog fur sketchI love drawing the textures of fur (there are five different fur textures, each with its own technique). It’s not a process that can be hurried, so instead it becomes almost meditative — the drawing slowly unfolding, centimeter by centimeter, across the white surface of the paper. This shaggy fellow, drawn in 4B pencil and measuring 6 by 8 inches, took more than nine hours to gently shade. He is a demonstration drawing, photographed at five stages from preliminary sketch to completion, for my online course in drawing dogs and cats.

How to draw eyes

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Eyes are challenging to draw, but they are also a lot of fun — and the eyes are often the key to expressing human emotion in a drawing. Here’s a short, step-by-step tutorial on drawing realistic eyes in pencil. For your model, cut a pair of eyes out of a magazine photo or crop a pair from an online image. Cut away the rest of the face so that you won’t be distracted as you concentrate on this drawing exercise. When you have finished, I’d love to see your results! My email is studio@valwebb.com.

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The pitcher of doom (if you’re an insect)

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Blog pitcher plantMeet Sarracenia leucophylla, the white pitcher plant. I drew this specimen following a day at Splinter Hill Bog, 628 acres of whispering longleaf pine forest and bog at the headwaters of the Perdido River in south Alabama. I felt fortunate to have a real, live pitcher plant to work from — when the first botanical illustration of a Sarracenia was made in 1576 by the court botanist to James I of England, all he had for reference was a dried-up remnant of a pitcher plant collected by Spanish explorers in Florida.

In those days, scientists could only guess about the plant’s strange cupped structure — and after a great deal of study, they concluded that pitcher plants were benevolently designed by God to provide safe refuge for small creatures. (Alas, that’s exactly what the plant’s unsuspecting victims probably think, as well.) Three hundred years later, Charles Darwin was the first to guess at the true purpose of the plant’s unique architecture: not a shelter, but a deadly trap. When experiments showed that pitcher plants digested and absorbed bits of venison dropped into its throat, the mystery was officially solved.

Among all the hundreds of families of flowering plants on the planet, only ten include species capable of trapping animals. There remains much we don’t know about these carnivorous beauties: their lifespan is uncertain, for example, because they sprout from a thick, fleshy rhizome that can spread out underground to give the appearance of multiple plants. In the wild, a large stand of plants may be just a few old — but widespread — individuals. And the intricate patterns on some Sarracenia may extend beyond the visible light spectrum; there is evidence to suggest that they actually have other patterns that can only be detected with ultraviolet vision.

So much to learn, but we may not have that chance — pitcher plant habitat is disappearing at an incredible rate. Wetlands throughout the world are being drained for development. Even preserved wetlands often become contaminated with agricultural and residential runoff. Most of the large Sarracenia stands of the past are already gone.

Fortunately for pitcher plants in my region (and for those of us who like to draw them) a number of bogs are being carefully protected. The largest is Splinter Hill Bog, where this beautiful specimen was growing. There’s also a bog at Weeks Bay Estuarine Reserve near Fairhope, and at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge just north of Gautier, MS.

 

Why I love colored pencils

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Heron Fisherman, drawn in Prismacolor pencil

I live on a hill, and the street that runs past my front door ends abruptly at the edge of the bay, four blocks down. It’s an easy walk, early in the morning, to watch pelicans dive for their breakfast and hear gulls laughing as they sail past overhead. And in the shallows, when the water is calm, the great blue heron stands motionless. I suppose he is waiting for the gleam of careless minnows in the water at his feet, but he might as well be posing for my sketchbook. A beautiful bird, bold enough to ignore a small woman nearby with a fistful of colored pencils, he makes a great model.

I’m honored to be the featured artist in the upcoming June issue of Colored Pencil Artists magazine — an issue that will focus on birds in colored pencil. I drew this heron, and his fisherman friend, with that event in mind.

The heron is drawn in Prismacolor Premiere, the soft-core colored pencils I like to use. After making a foundation drawing in Dark Umber — including all the major shadows and textures — I used just five other colors, layered on over the Umber, to finish the bird. His beak is Yellow Ochre, shaded gently with Terra Cotta (the same combination is used for his fierce eye). I don’t like to use pre-formulated grays, which seem a little flat, but prefer to blend a warm and vital gray by mixing Light Peach and Cloud Blue.  All the gray areas on this fellow are created with those two colors. Then I used black, of course, for his dark mask and (very sparingly) to deepen the richest shadows.

The fisherman’s wings are based on the lovely (and enormous) polyphemus moth, a silkworm moth that is common where I live. The richly pigmented, slightly dusty feel of colored pencil is perfect for drawing lepidopterans, from monarch to cabbage moth.

Upcoming Workshops & Online Classes

 

Val Webb - House Sparrow1

Online course:
Birds in Colored Pencil
Starting August 23
8 Lessons – work at your own pace
$50

With step-by-step guidance, learn to create “gentle pencil” foundation drawings and then layer rich colors on top to create elegantly detailed, illustration-quality colored pencil images. This course uses detailed video demonstrations of technique, step-by-step illustrated printables and personal feedback on completed projects. New lessons post every Tuesday on our class website for eight weeks, but you have four full months to complete the material. We’ll mix up classical drawing theory with a dose of natural history, with topics including drawing feather texture, drawing birds in flight, shading for highlights and shadows, color blending, basic bird anatomy, drawing birds of prey, drawing backgrounds and habitat, drawing birds’ eggs.  No experience necessary, and the supply list is quite basic — the list will be available for printing or download by June 1. Pre-registration is required, and is payable by check or PayPal. To sign up, email me directly at studio@valwebb.com.

All images and text (c) 2013 Val Webb

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