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 email@example.com.
I’m delighted to offer a new workshop, “Draw and Paint Monarch Butterflies,” at beautiful 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center on Saturday, January 12. Working from actual specimens, with step-by-step guidance, learn to create a realistic monarch using gouache and colored pencil on handmade buff paper. No experience is necessary and all supplies are provided. Class size is limited to 10. The cost is $65, and illustrated gift certificates are available if you plan to use the workshop as a Christmas gift. Email me to reserve a spot.
Two more things about the workshop: We’ll meet from 10 to 4, so bring a sack lunch to enjoy on the deck during our midday break.
Also, it’s important to me that you know our butterfly specimens were not wild-caught and killed. They were raised from egg to caterpillar to cocoon to adult, allowed to live a natural life and then after they died were carefully collected for our use. Butterfly farming preserves habitat and discourages destructive land use; it can also be helpful in supporting threatened species. Just so you know.
If you’ve been wondering whatever became of those pencil studies of citrus fruit, here’s a peek at the final result. This old-fashioned fruit crate label was commissioned by Mobile Botanical Gardens to promote a slate of upcoming events celebrating citrus. Like the labels of old, the image measures 10×11 inches. It’s all in colored pencil, using a “speed pencil” technique that I love — all the shading is done in an “underpainting” layer using just Dark Umber pencil, then the color is added at the last in a single layer. The wonderful shadows and highlights are simply the result of the umber drawing showing through the color. Below, the peeled orange is still in the umber stage but the shiny satsuma orange next to it has already received a layer of color… just a single layer of orange pencil! Thanks to the textures and shadows already shaded beneath, you get a lush and complex result. It’s a great alternative to the traditional slow layering of different colors to build depth.
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. I’m also sharing my own stock of organic herb seed (from my garden, while supplies last) with anyone who asks when they sign up. Email me for a list of available varieties.
The course is designed so that you can work at your own pace, without ever feeling rushed. Lessons will appear weekly beginning January 7 on a private, password-protected website. All 10 lessons will remain there until May 6. During those four months, you have access to the lessons anytime you wish to work on them. Feel free to take a week off (or even a month) for other activities. You’ll still have plenty of time to complete the course. Each lesson will include:
- My video demo with step-by-step guidance for each new technique
- Printable color instruction pages
- Examples for each lesson, created to guide and inspire you
- Personal help when needed, and feedback when each lesson is completed
- Access to our own private online group where you can share comments and images with others taking the course around the world. (Participation in the group is optional. No instruction will take place there.)
Art topics covered in the course include:
- How to develop the habit of looking deeply at your subject, so that you clearly see and understand its structure
- Three steps to creating a quick and accurate foundation sketch
- How to draw leaves in perspective
- My “gentle pencil” technique for softly shaded pencil studies
- How to combine ink and wash for fast and elegant herb drawings
- Traditional layering of watercolor and colored pencil to build a richly detailed rendering
- Color matching and color mixing – including highlights and shadows
- The structure of an herb plant, and some basic terminology
Absolutely no experience is necessary. The supply list is simple, and contains no exotic materials. (In fact, if you recently took my online watercolor lettering course, you already have the brushes you’ll need. You can check them off your list!)
What about technology? Well, you will need four basic tools to “attend” this online class:
- A computer, or access to one
- An email account to receive informative messages or send in your work for feedback
- A way to print out your illustrated instruction pages
- A way to send images of your completed projects to me for feedback. You can use either a scanner or a digital camera to create an image, then email it.
The cost of the entire course is $50, which is payable by personal check, money order or through PayPal. (To use PayPal, let me know you want to join the class and I will send you a secure PayPal invoice with an embedded “pay now” button.) Email me to sign up, or if you need additional information. See you soon!
I’m delighted to offer a new workshop at 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center:
Aquatic Plants in Watercolor Pencil Saturday, September 8 from 10am to 3pm 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center (on the Causeway) Spanish Fort, AL No experience necessary! The Mobile-Tensaw Delta, considered the best remaining delta ecosystem of its kind in the United States, is home to 500 species of plants. We'll focus on some favorites including lotus and pitcher plants, sketching from specimens and reference material and then creating color studies in watercolor pencil. Step-by-step guidance will be provided -- all levels of art experience (or none at all) welcome. Bring your lunch and a small set of watercolor pencils, and all other supplies will be provided. My botanical drawing workshops fill up fast -- your registration must be received to hold your place. The cost of the workshop is $50. Email to sign up: firstname.lastname@example.org
I live in a place where it’s not unusual to hear the ”who-cooks-for-you?” call of barred owls, especially just before dawn. Eerily beautiful with their pale faces and dark eyes (they are the only brown-eyed owl in the eastern US) they thrive in neighborhoods. Despite the fears of my neighbors who are convinced that the owl roosting in their oak tree wants to make a meal of their chihuahua, barred owls are usually after rodents… and older neighborhoods, like the one where I live, provide a steady supply. They are large creatures, with wings spanning three feet. Twice, while walking at night, I have seen barred owls soar past just a few feet above my head like silent ghosts, gliding fast, suddenly materializing out of the dark. It is a sight that will stop you in your tracks.
We drew barred owls (along with a number of other owls, and some hawks, eagles and osprey) during a recent workshop at 5 Rivers. By popular demand, I’m going to lead the “Drawing Birds of Prey” workshop once more on Saturday, July 14, from 10am until 3pm. No art experience is necessary, and all art supplies are provided. There are a few spots left at this time… registration is $60 and must be received to hold your spot. Email me for info.
(I’m painting some samples for a June 30 workshop, “Draw and Paint Six Culinary Herbs,” to be offered in Birmingham, Alabama. Join me for a day of creative botanical fun… no previous experience required, and all supplies are provided. Best of all, you get to take home six organically grown potted herb plants at the end of the day!)
I love to draw mice. This little fellow, created with just two Derwent watercolor pencils, was the demo for my Thursday night art class. The pencil colors were Raw Sienna and Chocolate (burnt umber). I sketched him with Raw Sienna, shaded his darker areas and eyes with Chocolate, then loaded up a #10 round brush with clean water and went over him to create a wash. To finish him up, I came back with Chocolate and added whiskers, ear and paw details. Squeak!
Not too long ago, a commissioned colored pencil piece gave me the opportunity to indulge in some exuberant bird-and-mouse fun. The finished artwork was a gift for a little girl, so I wove a pale pink ribbon through the dancing critters:
Meanwhile, I’m working on materials for an upcoming herb-painting workshop. Lavender, mint, oregano, chives, rosemary… now I just need to choose one final herb to occupy the empty space near the top of the watercolor. Suggestions?
Hands have a reputation for being difficult to draw. Some portrait artists avoid them entirely, choosing instead to use folds of clothing (or flowers, or a even a strategically placed small pet) to block them from view. Yet, the hands are wonderfully expressive. With a bit of practice and an understanding of their basic structure, you may discover that they become one of your favorite drawing subjects. Here’s a quick tutorial, drawn in 2B pencil. I use a step-by-step approach, starting with the basic forms and then working outward, to get accurate proportions:
You can practice “fleshing out” your simple palm-fingers-thumb-wrist sketches by drawing from photographs of hands in action… or use your own non-drawing hand as your model.