Posted on Leave a comment

Animal Sketches at the Sac Zoo

Animal Sketches at the Sac Zoo

For Mother’s Day, all I wanted was to go to the Sacramento Zoo and draw animals. I used a technique I learned 14 years ago from a workshop at the same zoo given by artist Robert Dvorak. I started with a Bic Grip gel pen (black fine point). Then I used a waterbrush to wash the water-soluble ink into the dark or shaded areas. I really like this effect. Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook.

Posted on Leave a comment

Advanced Drawing Lesson: Polar Bear

Advanced Drawing Lesson: Polar Bear

Polar bears live way up north in the very cold Arctic Circle, on the snowy tundra and in the ocean water. They are the largest species of bears. In the wild, they mostly eat seals.

Although my lines start out dark so that you can see them in my instructions, you should draw very lightly with your pencil. You do want to be able to see your starting shapes as you work. Then you’ll want to erase them easily without tearing your paper when you’re done.

This is a drawing that gets progressively more advanced. If you stop anywhere along the way but still feel like you learned something important, that’s progress. You could stop at Step 18, for example, and have a pretty solid drawing. I kept going because I kept feeling that with more time working on it, it could get better. And it did. Even with 21 steps completed, I know I could keep spending hours on this drawing and get it near to photorealistic. But photorealism is not the point of this lesson. Capturing the forms, energy, texture, and values of the scene are.

Disclaimer: I actually do all of my drawing for these lessons on the computer using a drawing tablet. I am very comfortable drawing in pencil, which I assume you will be using for this drawing. However, I find that drawing in layers on the computer gives me greater flexibility for building a lesson. The computer simulation resembles pencil fairly well, but it’s trickier to duplicate the use of a kneaded eraser or paper stump. Where needed, I try to give pointers on how to get a similar effect to mine in traditional media.

Materials

These are the tools I recommend for achieving a full range of values with fine detail.

    • good quality drawing paper
    • drawing pencil(s)
    • colored pencils in black, white, and a range of grays
    • kneaded eraser for erasing, blotting, and drawing light areas back into darker areas
    • paper stumps for blending and smoothing

In this pencil drawing techniques lesson, I show how to use a few of these tools in greater depth.

Source Photograph

I took this photograph of a polar bear playing with a dead fish at the San Francisco Zoo. He carried the fish around and gnawed on it for a while before he ate it. In the photo, the fish is in his mouth and his paw is lifting out of the water to hold the fish in place. His closed eyes show how serene he was. You can click on this image for a larger version.

Original Polar Bear Photo, San Francisco Zoo
Original Polar Bear Photo, San Francisco Zoo

Step One: Initial Shapes

Take a look at the overall format (the rectangle containing the image.) Identify key shapes and get them down lightly first. Check their sizes relative to the format and to each other. It’s very important that these proportions are correct from the very beginning. Redraw until they look right.

  • Draw a straightish line for the water’s edge.
  • Draw a large circle for the bear’s head.

Again, check the size of the shapes you drew, and check the amount of space between these lines and the edge of the format. This space outside your shapes is called white space, and it is just as important to your composition as the subjects are.

Advanced Polar Bear Step One
Advanced Polar Bear Step One

Step Two: Refine the Head Shape

The polar bear’s head actually seems to form a bit of a diamond shape in this photograph.

  • Straighten the sides a bit so that the head is more of a tilted square.
  • Leave the corners rounded.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Two
Advanced Polar Bear Step Two

Step Three: Add the Snout

The bear’s muzzle, or snout, is another rounded square overlapping the head. It is tilted at the same angle as the head square.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Three
Advanced Polar Bear Step Three

Step Four: Add the Ear, Neck, and Paw

Time to lay in the other main features of the bear.

  • Check the shape of the ear. It’s like an egg. It comes out of the head into the white space. Its top edge is lower that the crown of the head.
  • The neck is thick and disappears into the water. It forms a triangle in this composition. Check where it meets the head at top and bottom, how large it is in relationship to the head, and how pointy the left corner is.
  • The paw is a companion to the snout. Study its shape as it emerges from the water, its size and position compared to the snout, and how big the gap is between the paw and snout.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Four
Advanced Polar Bear Step Four

Step Five: Check Relationships

Check out the size and position of all your shapes, in relationship to each other and to the format.

  • The ear is lower than the crown of the head and goes no further back than the back of the head shape.
  • Then angles of the top and bottom and the head and the top and bottom of the snout ought to be parallel.
  • Check the vertical alignment of the forehead to the nose area and to the placement of the paw.
  • Check the relative positions of the horizontals where the neck enters the water, to where the bottom of the mouth lands and the where paw comes out of the water.
  • Make sure the nose will sit above the paw.
  • Draw in a light line across the snout where the eyes will line up. The eye on the right will only be suggested by darkness.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Five
Advanced Polar Bear Step Five

Step Six: Refine the Shapes

Find your outlines and overlaps. Draw slightly darker lines to define enough about the animal that we can tell it is a bear. Don’t draw too hard, because you may still need to further refinement as you move on.

  • Give him a nose and mouth. Before agonizing too much about how to make the mouth have depth as it goes into the head, just study the flat shape the open part of the mouth has. Stop drawing “a mouth” and simply draw “a shape” or “a set of shapes.”
  • Note the slight hump across the top of the snout.
  • Curve those claws. We are looking at the underside of the paw.
  • Show where the ear overlaps the head, and where the snout does the same. Don’t bring those overlapping lines in too far.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Six
Advanced Polar Bear Step Six

Step Seven: Get Fluffy

Study the photo to find where the bear is smoother, and where the fur is longer or shorter.

  • Loosely draw edges of the most obvious hair tufts. Pat attention to the direction of the fur–it keeps changing. This hair is wet and clumpy.
  • Define further details such as teeth, paw pad, and the fish.
  • Draw a light line down the top of his head where there’s a small indentation that looks like a part down someone’s hair.
  • Define the eyes a bit better.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Seven
Advanced Polar Bear Step Seven

Step Eight: Clean Up

Carefully erase the initial lines you put down in steps one through five, so they don’t confuse you. I threw in some lines it the water to suggest where his reflection will live.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Eight
Advanced Polar Bear Step Eight

Step Nine: Fill the Water in with a Medium Tone

Avoiding the bear and his reflection, use the side of your pencil to lay down a medium-dark tone across the surface of the water. Come right up to the edges of the fur.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Nine
Advanced Polar Bear Step Nine

Step Ten: Give the Bear a Few Medium Tones

Darken the parts of the bear than are the darkest, though not black. Use the same medium tone as in Step Nine above. Squint your eyes and study the range of values in the original photo.

  • Fill in his nose.
  • Fill in his mouth and lower lip.
  • Darken his upper lip.
  • Show the dark crease in the ear.
  • Find the darkest areas within the layers of fur. Some clumps of fur have shadows underneath.
  • The top of the paw and underside of the fish get darker.
  • The paw pad has lighter and darker skin on it.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Ten
Advanced Polar Bear Step Ten

Step Eleven: Add Very Dark Tones to the Bear

Add in the very darkest or black bits on the bear. Note where I added mine:

  • In the ear.
  • Across the eyelids.
  • Under a few tufts of fur.
  • Around the nose.
  • In the mouth.
  • Throughout the upper and lower lips.
  • Around the paw pad and under one claw.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Eleven
Advanced Polar Bear Step Eleven

Step Twelve: Add Very Dark Tones to the Water

Our goal over the next few steps is to finish the water. Study the surface of the water and notice how the combination of light, dark and medium tones gives it movement and energy. Take your time and show the surface of the water through the direction and thickness of a series of very dark strokes.

You could leave the water for last, which would reduce your likelihood of smudging it when going back to work within the bear’s head. However, you’ll get a better effect erasing the furry edge back out of finished water than to try to draw water around the bear’s finished head.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Twelve
Advanced Polar Bear Step Twelve

Step Thirteen: Add Light Tones to the Water

Now use your kneaded eraser to “draw” lighter strokes back into the medium tones of the water. Work around your darker strokes rather than erasing them back up.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Thirteen
Advanced Polar Bear Step Thirteen

Step Fourteen: Smooth the Water

Use a paper stump or your finger to smooth and blend the surface of the water all over.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Fourteen
Advanced Polar Bear Step Fourteen

Step Fifteen: Refine the Furry Edges

Our work in the water has blunted the definition of the bear’s fur. Use your kneaded eraser, formed into a point, to draw the furry bits back around his head, neck and paw.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Fifteen
Advanced Polar Bear Step Fifteen

Step Sixteen: Use Medium Tones to Shape the Bear’s Head

Now really study how light and dark give the bear form. He’s definitely not pure white. Shadows fall and help us see where surfaces are not in direct sunlight.

  • Use lots of medium-dark strokes to show where the shadows are, as well as the direction of the fur. Go a little to dark here, because it forms a good foundation for drawing the whites back in later.
  • Add some strokes into the bear’s reflection in the water.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Sixteen
Advanced Polar Bear Step Sixteen

Step Seventeen: Bring in Lighter Tones

  • Lightly “draw” back into the medium tones with a pointed kneaded areas to add further texture and dimension to the bear. Don’t go to pure white yet.
  • Use your pencil very lightly to add more strokes into white areas.
  • Fill in the fish too.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Seventeen
Advanced Polar Bear Step Seventeen

Step Eighteen: Bring Some White Back In

Use a slightly heavier hand with a pointed eraser to draw white fur back in over the top of darker areas. Keep looking at your source photo to decide where the whitest fur should go.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Eighteen
Advanced Polar Bear Step Eighteen

Steps Nineteen—Twenty One

From this point forward, I just kept reworking and reworking. Draw some dark in, pull some lights back out. Continuously check the source photo and see where the details need to be refined, and the overall forms given more or less lighting.

I also gave some more polish to the nose and tooth, and better shading around the fish. Ultimately the bear needed to be a lot more white than in Step Eighteen, but it’s best to lay down the darker undertones and pull the white back of of them, than to try to work in the bits of dark around all the white.

Step away from your drawing and look at from a distance every so often. Keep working the drawing until you’re satisfied that it has enough detail and the right overall shading.

Advanced Polar Bear Step Nineteen
Advanced Polar Bear Step Nineteen

Advanced Polar Bear Step Twenty
Advanced Polar Bear Step Twenty

Advanced Polar Bear Step Twenty One
Advanced Polar Bear Step Twenty One

C’est fini.

Posted on Leave a comment

Pencil Drawing Techniques

Pencil Drawing Techniques squiggle elephant

Graphite pencils are very versatile tools. They can be used to create a wide variety of textures and values. Value, or tone, refers to the lightness or darkness of a part of a drawing.

You can use a standard office pencil and copier paper to make beautiful drawings. There are a wealth of other pencil drawing tools and papers available too.

Here I will show you a few approaches to drawing and shading with pencils.

Drawing Tools

There are a whole lot of drawing tools available in art stores and online. The selection can be overwhelming, in fact. Beyond the standard #2 pencil, there are dozens of graded graphite pencils in a range of hardness from 9B (the softest and darkest) to 9H (the hardest and lightest.) There are also charcoal pencils, erasers, paper stumps, sharpeners, chamois cloths, sandpaper pads, pencil extenders, and all kinds of papers.

For the techniques in this article, we need just a few pencils and a couple of other tools. Shown below are the drawing tools I used in these elephant drawings:

  • graphite pencils, in
    • HB (medium hardness, on the soft side; equivalent in hardness to a standard #2 office pencil)
    • 2B (slightly softer and darker)
    • 6B (very soft and dark)
  • paper stump, for smoothing the graphite
  • kneaded eraser, for picking the graphite back up for varying degrees of erasure
  • 65-lb. drawing paper from a Canson field sketchbook

Pencil Drawing Tools
Pencil Drawing Tools

Crosshatching

Hold your pencil fairly vertical and draw a series of parallel lines to darken an area. This is called hatching. Repeat in a new direction to make the area darker. These lines cross the first sets of lines, thus “cross hatching.” Keep your pencil tip semi-sharp.

Notice how in my darker regions there are more sets of overlapping lines, plus I pressed a bit harder. In lighter areas are few to no lines. Avoid putting any lines in your very lightest areas. Tip: use slightly curved lines around round surfaces to suggest contour.

In this drawing I simply used the HB pencil on paper, with no other tools.

Pencil Drawing Techniques - Cross Hatching
Pencil Drawing Techniques – Cross Hatching

Squiggles

Squiggles are a fun way to show varying degrees of light and dark. Hold your pencil fairly vertical again, and keep the pencil tip semi-sharp. Just draw tons of little circles, or squiggle all over, to give the drawing a sense of energy.

As in cross-hatching, go repeatedly over areas which need to be darker, and press a bit harder (but not enough to rip the paper or break your pencil tip.) You can also tighten up the squiggles to go darker.

In this drawing I simply used the HB pencil on paper, with no other tools.

Pencil Drawing Techniques - Squiggles
Pencil Drawing Techniques – Squiggles

Smooth Shading

Angle your pencil so that you are drawing with the flat edge rather than the tip. Fill in the drawing object in this way, using light strokes in lighter areas, and heavier strokes in darker spots. Vary the amount of pressure you apply to your pencil to change the stroke darkness.

The more times you cover an area, the darker it gets as more graphite is added to the paper. You can create a graduated shading by increasing or decreasing your pressure, and varying the amount of graphite being laid down.

In this drawing I simply used the HB pencil on paper, with no other tools.

Pencil Drawing Techniques - Smooth Shading
Pencil Drawing Techniques – Smooth Shading

Multiple Tools

This technique will use all of the tools in my photograph at the beginning of this article.

Step One: Medium Value

Start with an even, medium-dark tone all over using the side of the HB pencil. I went in a couple of different directions here to get the tone more solid and evenly-laid.

Pencil Drawing Techniques - Multi-Tool - Step One
Pencil Drawing Techniques – Multi-Tool – Step One

Step Two: Darker Values

Use the darker 4B and 6B pencils to lay in the darker values where less light is falling. In the image below, I completed this step and started blending the front leg and belly.

Pencil Drawing Techniques - Multi-Tool - Step Two
Pencil Drawing Techniques – Multi-Tool – Step Two

Step Three: Blend with Paper Stump

Use a clean paper stump to smooth out the texture all over. This tends to make everything a bit darker as the tiny gaps are filled in more completely. Sometimes people use their fingers instead of a paper stump. A paper stump is also good for lightly adding graphite back into light-value areas, if the stump already has some graphite on it.

Pencil Drawing Techniques - Multi-Tool - Step Three
Pencil Drawing Techniques – Multi-Tool – Step Three

 Step Four: Erase to Add Highlights

Warm up your kneaded eraser by squishing and folding it for a minute. Use flats areas on the eraser to lightly blot areas of graphite and lift some of the darkness. Form a point on the eraser to do more targeted erasing.

Notice how I not only brought up the values where light would hit, but used a pointed eraser to define creases on the trunk and legs. A little highlight under the eye pushes the eye socket inward visually. I also used the eraser to clean up graphite outside the elephant shape a bit.

Pencil Drawing Techniques - Multi-Tool - Step Four
Pencil Drawing Techniques – Multi-Tool – Step Four

C’est fini.

Posted on Leave a comment

Intermediate Drawing Lesson: Polar Bear

Intermediate Drawing Lesson: Polar Bear

Polar bears live way up north in the very cold Arctic Circle, on the snowy tundra and in the ocean water. They are the largest species of bears. In the wild, they mostly eat seals.

Although my lines start out dark so that you can see them in my instructions, you should draw very lightly with your pencil. You do want to be able to see your starting shapes as you work. Then you’ll want to erase them easily without tearing your paper when you’re done.

Step One: Basic Shapes

To draw a polar bear, we start with three circles. Again, draw lightly. The lines need not be perfect, but this stage is the most important for getting the drawing’s proportions correct.

  • Draw a really large circle on the left. This will be the bear’s rump.
  • Draw a medium circle in the middle. It should be spaced away from the big circle a bit, and slightly lower. I’ve tilted mine because of the general alignment if the bear’s shoulder. This will be the bear’s torso.
  • Draw a smaller circle on the right. It should be spaced away from the middle circle a bit more. Its bottom edge should line up with the bottom of the middle circle. This will be the bear’s head.

Check the relative size and position of these initial shapes. It’s better to make corrections to them now than to try to make up for mistakes in proportion later.

Intermediate Polar Bear
Intermediate Polar Bear Step One

Step Two: Connect the Shapes

Connect the circles and stick on a tail and snout.

  • Draw a line connecting the top of his rump to just below the left side of his torso circle. His shoulder juts up suddenly on the right.
  • Draw a line from the top of his torso to the top of his head. Polar bears have surprisingly long necks! Curve it down slightly.
  • Draw a line from under his head to a spot a little ways up from the bottom of his torso. The neck is almost the same thickness all the way across.
  • Draw a line from the bottom of his torso to the bottom of his rump. His belly sags, but it’s mostly fluff. And fat, also some fat.
  • Draw his snout on the right side of his head. It’s like a rectangle, but tilted, and the right side is shorter than the left. There’s a slant from the nose to the mouth.
  • Draw a loose line for the tail hanging down from his rump.

Intermediate Polar Bear (2)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Two

Step Three: Establish the Gestures for the Legs

Before figuring out the outlines for the legs, draw in some basic gestures. These serve as armatures for the legs to wrap around. In this case, I imagined I was drawing the leg and foot bones.

  • The front legs have elbows that bend forward much like ours, and wrists that can bend either way.
  • The back legs bend like our legs, with knees, ankles, and very long feet and toes.

Intermediate Polar Bear (3)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Three

 Step Four: Draw the Outline for the Legs

Polar bear legs start out very wide and then taper (get narrower) as they reach the toes.

  • Think about where the feet are in contact with the ground, and make those parts flatter.
  • The two feet farthest from us should stop a bit higher than the closer feet. This gives the bear some perspective.

Intermediate Polar Bear (4)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Four

 Step Five: Draw the Facial Features

  •  The smallish ears sit low on the head and lean forward.
  • The eye is in profile, so is somewhat triangular.
  • The nose is big and sits at the tip of the snout.
  • Draw in a flat mouth and a lower lip/jaw.

Intermediate Polar Bear (5)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Five

Step Six: Establish the Initial Outlines

Trace over your light lines a bit more darkly, but not fully dark. Show the overlapping of legs with tail and body parts.

Intermediate Polar Bear (6)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Six

Step Seven: Add Fur

Parts of the bear are fluffier-looking and other parts are more sleek. In the polar bear I am working from, the fluff could be found in these places:

  • From the ear back to the shoulder.
  • Under the neck.
  • The back of each leg.
  • The belly.
  • The tail.

Notice I made some further refinements to the sleeker outlines too. Don’t be afraid to refine and refine. This is why we dark out drawing lightly. Don’t commit to a line until you’re satisfied with it. However, on organic things like animals, there are rarely any straight lines or perfect circles.

Intermediate Polar Bear (7)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Seven

Step Eight: Add Shading

My polar bear had the sun overhead. His own body cast shadows upon itself in these regions:

  • Under the neck.
  • Bottom of the belly.
  • Top area of two farthest legs.
  • Under the bent wrist.
  • The tips of toes or bottom edge of feet.

Use crosshatching to make darker areas instead of filling in completely.

Intermediate Polar Bear (8)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Eight

Step Nine: Add a Cast Shadow

A cast shadow is a shadow cast by one object onto another. The bear is casting a shadow onto the ground. This gives the viewer a sense of him connected to the ground, and not floating in space.

I used a series of horizontal lines, loosely sketched out under each leg. Cast shadows get darker the closer they are to the object casting them.

At this point you may want to go over all your final lines with a marker. Let the marker ink dry completely, then gently erase all your pencil lines.

Intermediate Polar Bear (9)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Nine

Step Ten: Color in the Background

Again, I did this loosely. Because polar bears are very white, I avoided getting any color on him. Instead, I colored the background to make him “pop” out more visually.

Intermediate Polar Bear (10)
Intermediate Polar Bear Step Ten

 

C’est fini.

Posted on Leave a comment

Beginning Drawing Lesson: Polar Bear

Beginning Drawing Lesson: Polar Bear demonstration step-by-step

Polar bears live way up north in the very cold Arctic Circle, on the snowy tundra and in the ocean water. They are the largest species of bears. In the wild, they mostly eat seals.

Although my lines start out dark so that you can see them in my instructions, you should draw very lightly with your pencil. You do want to be able to see your starting shapes as you work. Then you’ll want to erase them easily without tearing your paper when you’re done.

Step One: Basic Shapes

To draw a polar bear, we start with three circles.

  • Draw a really large circle on the left. This will be the bear’s rump.
  • Draw a medium circle in the middle. It should be spaced away from the big circle a bit. Put it so there’s space above and below it compared to the big circle. This will be the bear’s torso.
  • Draw a smaller circle on the right. It should be spaced away from the middle circle a bit more. Its bottom edge should line up with the bottom of the middle circle. This will be the bear’s head.

Beginning Polar Bear Step One
Beginning Polar Bear Step One

Step Two: Connect the Shapes

Connect the circles and stick on a tail and snout.

  • Draw a line connecting the top of his rump to just below the left side of his torso circle.
  • Draw a line from the top of his torso to the top of his head. Polar bears have very long necks!
  • Draw a line from under his head to a spot a little ways up from the bottom of his torso.
  • Draw a line from the bottom of his torso to the bottom of his rump.
  • Draw his snout on the right side of his head. It’s like a rectangle, but tilted, and the right side is shorter than the left.
  • Draw a backwards J for his tail hanging down from his rump.

Beginning Polar Bear Step 2
Beginning Polar Bear Step 2

Step Three: Make Legs

Draw four long rectangles for legs. Make them fat and not too long.

  • Two rectangles start just inside the bottom of the torso. They angle down to the left and right. One should start right in the middle and go down to the left. The other starts near the neck and goes down to the right.
  • Two rectangles start together at the middle back of the rump. They angle down to the left and right.

Beginning Polar Bear Step 3
Beginning Polar Bear Step 3

Step Four: Draw Ears

Draw simple curves for the ears.

  • Draw a little ear on the top of the head. It’s like the top half of a capital D.
  • Draw a tilted, backwards C for the other ear. Put it far down and to the left inside his head.

Beginning Polar Bear Step 4
Beginning Polar Bear Step 4

 Step Five: Make a Face

We just need an eye and a nose for now.

  • Make a large black dot on the right side of his head circle.
  • Make a large triangle for his nose at the end of his snout.

Beginning Polar Bear Step 5
Beginning Polar Bear Step 5

Step Six: Final Outlines

Decide where your final outlines should be. Trace over your light pencil lines with a marker. Take care  show that the two middle legs are in front of the bear, and the two outer legs are behind the bear. Add in a little mouth line.

Beginning Polar Bear Step 6
Beginning Polar Bear Step 6

Step Seven: Erase

Wait for the marker ink to dry completely before gently erasing your pencil lines.

Beginning Polar Bear Step 7
Beginning Polar Bear Step 7

Step Eight: Color

Use colors markers to color in your drawing. In the case of a polar bear, in should be left white and its surroundings are more colorful. In my example, I gave the bear a light blue background. I gave the two “behind” legs some shadow with a very light gray.

Beginning Polar Bear Step 8
Beginning Polar Bear Step 8

C’est fini.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Animals Look up to Old Masters

On two trips to the Getty Center in Los Angeles last week, I noticed that many paintings there contain animals near the bottom of the composition who serve to redirect the viewer’s eye back up to the focal point. Many of these animals are dogs, but there are also bunnies, pigs, birds, frogs, oxen, demons, lions, dragons, and even guinea pigs. Check out the details in my Flickr photostream: Animals Look up to Old Masters.

Animals Look up to Old Masters
Animals Look up to Old Masters

Continue reading Animals Look up to Old Masters

Posted on Leave a comment

Trying watercolor again: an anniversary gift for my boyfriend

watercolor painting: Fenrir praying mantis

I took a color course in watercolor over ten years ago. My teacher, Gary Pruner, is an extremely good painter and I admire his work greatly. However, I came out of that class intimidated by watercolor instead of encouraged. I am much more comfortable with acrylic paint, and eventually gave all my watercolor supplies away.
Unfortunately, my attitude toward watercolor has kept me from jumping right in with it with my students. That is, until I picked up a Winsor & Newton Cotman kit at University Art right at the beginning of the winter break. I grabbed a couple of books on the subject, including a great tutorial book called Watercolour in 10 Steps by Patricia Seligman. I’ve gone through most of the book and went on to do a mediocre painting of one of my cats (she kept moving.)
My boyfriend owns a pet praying mantis that he found on his car tire in front of my house. He keeps it on a house plant in his apartment, and he feeds it well with crickets. He named it Fenrir. He really cherishes the little guy, so I think a little watercolor of his pet will please him. I took a few photos this morning. Our one-year anniversary since we first met is tomorrow. I’m giving him this 6″ x 4″ painting I did this afternoon as a gift:
Fenrir by Dawn Pedersen - copyright 2007
I now feel energized to teach my students a little something about watercolor. I’m looking forward to going through Artist’s Projects You Can Paint: 10 Floral Watercolors by Kathy Dunham next.
I bought an oil painting kit too, for sometime soon. I’ve never used oil paint before.

UPDATE 01/07/07

I signed up to take an official oil painting class at a local community college on Tuesday nights. I hope I can balance it with time for my Thursday night master’s class, lesson planning, and my boyfriend. Otherwise, I’m very excited about it!