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Sunday, July 24, 2016


The use of reference can make or break an illustrator.  I’ve seen how the use of a reference photo is the difference between really stellar work and mediocre work, even when I’m working in a more cartoonish style.  If I want my characters to move with believability and have facial expressions that grab the viewer, then the use of a photo reference is essential. 

I remember when I first started working on children’s book illustrations, I thought photos weren’t going to make a difference because these are more cartoony drawings anyway.  No one will know one way or another, right?  Wrong.  The best thing I ever did was to hire a young girl to pose for me and watch her move.  All the drawings worked out 100 times better after that.
I used to be able to find possible subjects/models all around me a few years ago, but after my hip operation, I've noticed I stay closer to home.  I don't get out and make contact like I used to. Consequently I haven't the same model base I used to draw from: families from church, friends and neighbors.  This is becoming a problem I hadn't really noticed before.  I even found a site where people can hire models from (Model Mayhem) and that would be great only I don’t have the kind of funds it would take to hire anyone.  Mostly I have gotten models to pose for me in exchange for a drawing or painting, mostly friends. 

Anyone have similar experiences?  I’d love to hear about it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Many colors of white

Can you imagine wearing white while painting?  You are asking for it.  I use my oldest clothes while oil painting and a black apron, which after all these years, is now a kind of polka-dot.  I have paint all over the place before I am done, on my face, my clothes, my floor, and some on the canvas too.  This painting is great but a little out of the realm of possibility for the artists I know today.  Beautiful composition though.  The white of the water and the white of the clothing along with the white of the canvas and architecture work together to make this an awesome exercise in the many colors of white.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Foreshortening is one of those things we artists are often burdened with.  In order to keep our drawing fresh and dynamic we often have to rely on the use of severe perspective.  To make that effective we have to understand what is happening when we view something, especially a human form flat on.  Eyeballing just doesn’t work.  Your mind is conditioned to see the whole form and not the severe shapes they are made of.  You have to measure and measure again.  The relationships of the sizes are just too off of the norm of proportions to just think you KNOW how it should look.

I found this exercise fun and interesting.  I have as a rule, avoided severe angles for the very reason that they cause foreshortening, instead of embracing them and trying to draw what I "see".  I'm happy to be covering this again.  I've been looking forward to it.

When I did the 100 days of hands I found that I was often faced with hands that are foreshortened as well.  The fingers facing toward the viewer or away.  Knowing that the normal proportions don’t apply is the key.  Measure, measure, measure.

Severe perspective can give your drawings and illustrations visual interest that you can't achieve with standard straight-on imagery. It's important to know how to achieve this in a believable way.  Try it for yourself and see if you like the process.

In my drawing of my husband his head is closer to me and his feet are much farther away causing them to much smaller than normal.  The same with the hand (#21 & #24).  Because the fingers are bent we can see more of them but the palm is nearly flat on to the viewer and therefore, very little of it can be seen, even though we know the palm measure larger in area than the fingers. 
With the hand #36 and #41 the opposite is true.  The palm is facing the viewer and therefore in proper proportion but the fingers are pointing toward the viewer and foreshortened so that only the tips and fingernails are apparent.

The feet too can be subject to foreshortening.  In these, #7, #22 and #23 one foot faces side view but the other is pointed directly at the viewer causing foreshortening.

Give it a try for yourself.  What have you to loose?