For the past few weeks i’ve been making a conscious effort to draw more. Not with any set goal in kind, just more drawing for drawing’s sake. I tend to sometimes to rush through the drawing part so I can start painting, only to find myself wishing id spent more time solving during the drawing stage.

I try to chalk it up to that happy accident effect that can happen when working into an unresolved drawing, and one could also make the strong argument that in that situation you’re still “drawing,” albeit with paint. Also I find that painting on top of a tight underdrawing can sometimes make me more timid in my application, perhaps missing out on opportunities to be bolder.

But at the end of the day, theres no getting out of the fact that if you want to work representationally, you need to know how to draw what you see. Shapes, proportions and relationships are the necessary language, and the more accurately you can portray these things the more convincing the illusion of realism will be in your work.

And while I love drawing, It has always been my Achilles heel. There’s no question that it’s the hardest part of picture making for me personally.

I started off working in more of an exaggerated graffiti inspired style which still manifests itself in unintended ways. In fact, the reason I so badly wanted to go to art school was to be able to create more realistic work, and I’d run into a wall due to a lack of foundational training and limited resources back in the pre internet 90’s.

I’d already been drawing daily for a few years when I entered art school, and while I had a decent grasp on how to handle the tools, I came loaded with bad habits. Had never drawn from life before, and it took me about a year and half of life drawing classes to learn how to really draw what I saw and better control my wacky graffiti hand.  It was a frustrating but exciting chapter in my life, and I left art school with at least a better handle on working realistically….And almost 20 years later now, it still feels like i’m just figuring it out.

I picked up a couple of pads of Stonehenge paper (that stuff is awesome btw!) and a bunch of pencils and on free nights I’ve been out here just drawing stuff.  Redrawing, refining, picking at a variety of stuff, photos of my kids, objects around the studio, working mostly from outside source material as opposed to imagination in efforts to try to import some new tricks.

Its been rough. There’s been good nights and some really bad ones too. The struggle is real. Having done this for a while now,  I’ve kind of come to grips with the fact that drawing will never be easy for me. But experience has taught me that if I can keep pushing forward, refining my language and pushing my understanding, it can become “less difficult,” and at this point, I’d happily take that. 🙂

Here’s a selection of little drawings and mixed media stuff I’ve been messing with past couple of weeks. Going to try to keep this up as much as possible over the summer and see if there’s any measurable improvement. Some of the rust has fallen off and it already feels like it’s getting a bit easier. Now they just need to get better haha! 🙂

first test page on new paper. testing out a variety of pencils, colored pencils, alcohol-based ink washes (left side) watercolor washes (right side)…just trying to get a feel for it. drew all this stuff from life.


little graphite drawing of our daughter Elle drawn for my Mom as a birthday present. drew this from a photograph I took.


Drew this for my better half as a late Mother’s day present. Took a few days to crank through all those heads. Once it was pencilled in,  I brought the kids out and had them apply the watercolor washes, which I then came back on top with colored pencil and gouache to pull the forms a bit more. Was so proud of how well they did! 😀

Couple of little still lifes of a baby food jar filled with paint medium, and an IKEA house plant. both were drawn in colored pencil, washed over with watercolor and then worked back into here and there with gouache paint.

Drawing of Milton wearing his favorite outfit watching tv. House rule is if I have to wipe it, I can draw it 😀

Aaaaand lastly here’s an update on that oil portrait started of Melvin last month. Applied a glaze of payne’s gray and olive green to cool it off and bring the values down, then worked back into it with opaques to break up edges and refine things a bit more. Think I’m a couple sessions from calling it just yet, as this is where it starts to get really interesting texturally.