Archive for April, 2015


Drawing Update: Sidewalk Sleeper

April 30, 2015

Here’s an update on the new drawing with the background filled in, and a clearer image.


I had been thinking to smooth out the background next with a layer of paint, but this texture is growing on me. I’ll keep on with it and fill in the figure, and then decide if I want to leave it.


New Drawing Started: Sidewalk Sleeper

April 28, 2015

I’ve been playing around lately with a combination of wax and graphite. I made a post on the subject awhile back. This will be a drawing based on an old photo of mine showing a man asleep on a sidewalk. It’s a little hard to see in the image here since the outline was drawn on lightly. I’ll post some better photos for you later.


I first started by coating the drawing paper (16 x 20 inches) with a thin layer of wax. I’m using an oil pastel made by Sennelier (it’s that tube on the far right,) essentially a large oil pastel without any pigment (“Transparent Medium.”) This layer allows me to scrap down through the wax to the paper and lighten the graphite. I can continue layering more wax, more graphite, scrap it down in spots, and move back and forth to get an interesting texture. It should be a fun exercise.


Making a Gallery Wrapped Canvas

April 21, 2015

I was preparing a new gesso panel for another painting, and while that was drying I thought I’d show the process I go through to make a gallery wrapped canvas. The purpose of a gallery wrapped canvas is to be able to hang the painting on the wall without having to place it in a frame. It has the canvas wrapped all the way around the edges of the strainer bars.


The canvas I’m building will have a final dimension of 16 x 20 inches. The wood strainer bars are made from Radiata Pine. They are 1×2″ size (exactly 3/4 x 1.5″) and cut 16 and 20 inches long. Each end has been mitered at 45 degrees on the 3/4″ side. There are 1/8″ rabbit grooves cut on the front side so that less of the wood will be touching the canvas. That prevents any possible indentations registering through. I’ve also cut 1/4″ grooves at the inside center of each where I will later place some cross braces. I’m using some thin polyester fabric since it was the only type I had available that was large enough.


Now I’m ready to glue the canvas to the inside of each corner. I cut a diagonal first from the inside corner of the wood to the outer corner of the canvas. I then apply the glue to the wood and canvas. I’m using an acid-free latex glue from Best-Test called “Paper Cement.” This works fine on thin fabric, but I’d need something stronger for thicker canvas. Spray adhesives work well if you mask off the area. The glue only needs to be strong enough to hold the canvas to the wood as I later put the two ends together. The wood itself will hold the canvas tight.


Once the glue has dried on all four corners and the canvas has been stuck to the ends of the wood, I turn the wood upright. I then fold the canvas in and staple it to the wood, repeating this for each corner.


After the corners are stapled, I staple the edges. First I staple the center of one side, and then the side directly opposite, pulling the canvas tight as I go. Next I staple to the right and left of each corner. This keeps the front nice and tight. The staples along this edge are about 1.5″ apart.


Finished! All that’s left to do is to make the center braces. Polyester fabric has an advantage of making nice sharp corners, but it can be hard to keep tight. Cotton or linen seem to have the opposite feature: they stretch well, but the corners can be bulky, and hard to fold over cleanly.


Two Sketches at a Park

April 13, 2015

Here are a couple sketches I made a few days ago at a local park. The girl laying down was drawn with a ballpoint pen, the other in pencil. Both on 8.5 x 11″ rag paper.

lazybones parksittinggirl


Life Drawing: Scaling a Model in a Drawing Grid

April 8, 2015


There is a drawing technique, called sight-size, for drawing a live model the same size that it is seen, but what if you wanted to draw it larger, or any size? This demonstration will show a method to do that using a grid system by looking through a sheet of plastic.


What I’ve crudely assembled here is a thin sheet of clear plastic (12 x 16”) in a frame with a 9 inch grid divided into 4 x 4 equal squares, and diagonal lines at each intersection. The lines are drawn with a grease pencil that can be easily wiped off with a tissue, so that the plastic can be used again for a different size grid if necessary. The 9 inch outer square and number of lines is arbitrary, but I’ve found it works well for most situations. The important part is to draw the horizontal and vertical lines into even squares.


For my demonstration I’m going to draw this toy horse. I place my frame and tripod directly in front of the model, and adjust the frame on the tripod so that the edge of the frame lines up with the corner edge of the wall behind the model. If no such bit of architecture is available, then you can create your reference mark with some tape on the wall, just be certain that it’s perfectly square. Lock the frame in place so it doesn’t move on the tripod. It’s also a good idea to make some chalk marks at the base of the model so it can be repositioned if it gets moved.

Now I line up the grid to the model, placing the grid so that the top line touches the topmost piece of the model, the tip of the ears, and the bottom line touches the front hooves. Once everything is in place, including where I will be standing or sitting while drawing, I use tape to mark the tripod legs on the floor, and where I will be drawing from while looking through the grid. These locations must be constant while I’m transferring the horse to my drawing.


I begin by making marks at the top and bottom of my drawing page for the top of the ears and tip of the front hooves. Then I draw a vertical line in the center of the page. That line will be the center of my grid.

What I need to do now is create a grid on the drawing paper. I can easily do this without any complicated math because the 9 inch grid was evenly divided into squares. I take a separate piece of paper and align the top corner with the mark I made for the ears, and make a mark on it that lines up with the mark for the hooves (#5.) I then fold the corner to that mark, and continue folding the paper until I have four marks evenly spaced. I transfer these marks to my drawing, both vertically and horizontally, and build a grid of squares in the same fashion as the 9 inch grid.

horse2B horse2CD

Now I can start drawing the horse. I stand or sit in the place I had marked earlier as my drawing spot, and transfer the locations of the horse that I see through the plastic grid to the same locations on my drawing grid. You might consider making your drawing grid on a separate sheet of tracing paper to save you the trouble of erasing those lines later. You could tape or clip it to your drawing, flip it back and forth to make registration dots on your drawing as you see them through the grid, and then connect the dots.

horse2E horse2F

It is possible to use this system without the easel by holding the frame with your free hand while drawing with the other. The frame must be held as vertical and stationary as possible straight out in front of you as you draw. You could try and identify a spot within your model that touches a grid intersection to help line things up, like the front left knee of my horse above. Holding the frame has an advantage of not being restricted by the height of the easel, and not having to carry it around with you to an outside location. Try to use a few reference points as possible, and record them quickly to lessen the risk of moving the grid and causing an error in your measurements.


Table Easel Improvements

April 6, 2015

I made a few modifications to the mini table easel I built some time ago. I’ve been using it more frequently, so it needed to be sturdier and more functional. It’s 7″ tall, and now 13” square at the base.


A.> Added a center front brace to make the base sturdier, and support artwork at a steeper angle, about 60 degrees.
B.> I cut notches in the vertical supports. I can place a long dowel rod there to support wider artwork including stretched canvases.
C.> Added back bracing to keep it from tipping backwards with large artwork.

Future plan is to make it more adjustable. It would be nice to be able to raise or lower the vertical supports, and perhaps rotate them down to be more portable. I’d like to be able to pull out the front end so I could adjust the art to any angle I wanted.


That’s a 24” sheet of hardboard sitting on the easel. It’s very sturdy now.


Painting Final Redux: Violin Section

April 4, 2015


Okay, so I decided to make a few more changes to the “final” painting. After staring at it for awhile, I thought the men’s coats needed to be darker, so I tested this out in Photoshop, and liked what I saw. The darker shading was painted mostly with a fat layer of Paynes Grey. The eyes on the guy to the left were also a little bit out of alignment, so I fixed that. Now it just needs to be left alone for awhile.