Posts Tagged ‘ arts ’

Cultivating the sketching habit (II)…

Some more recent sketches here. Many more are due because I am developing ideas for some of the small works I plan to do:

[explanation: I’ve recently become a lot more disciplined in doing regular sketches of images that I find interesting for whatever reason. When I was a kid, or a teenager, it was a natural thing to just pick up a sketch-book and treat whatever I saw. I sort of lost that habit in the business of being an adult. Now, as I am producing more lately, large complete works, it’s all the more detrimental to maintain regular practice sketching small ideas and things that I may want to turn into larger complete works.]

[note] I’ve decided to begin loading new works towards the top of the page, so it’s easier for readers to see new works, rather than scrolling past ones they may have already seen to see the newest pieces.

I am currently teaching an art therapy group three times a week, and looking for opportunities to do similar work elsewhere. Sharing my sketchbook in this way might seem a bit odd, since most artists tend to pretty jealously guard theirs. However, it’s become an important part of my pedagogy to encourage students to pay attention to their pre-drawing process. Many of these sketches are basic and rough ideas. Sketches are supposed to be where you problem-solve, they are supposed to be flawed and have problems. That’s the point. Ideas (should they make it to a final work and be hung in a gallery) do not arise fully-formed and perfect. They have a life before that. They start off malformed and imperfectly executed, –and many ideas wither on the vine and die. Being honest about that part of the process has become an important way to make creating art less intimidating for my students.


Some recent sketches:

7/9, I always encourage my students to pay attention to “pre-drawing.” In that spirit, this was a practice I did in the twenty minutes I was waiting for the class to start Thursday of the photograph of the train tracks looking south from the Rennselaer train station.


Pencil on paper, train tracks, looking south from Rennselaer.


Two recent (from my sketchbook, 6.25.14):

First, an interior view from the cafeteria/common area in the psychiatric hospital that hosts my art class. I usually arrive at about 12:30 for a one o’clock class, and since I had no pressing business before the lesson started, I spent about 15 minutes doing this architectural study:

psychiatric hospital, sketch of interior/common area.

psychiatric hospital, sketch of interior/common area.


Today is one of the days I take my eight-year old son to the library. Normally, I goof around on the wi-fi, but today I opted to use the time to sketch instead. I needed a break from tech anyway. Two sketches of buildings around the Bach Library branch:

Residence, New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY, USA.

Residence, New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY, USA.


And this is the rear of two buildings I sketched from the patio area behind the library:

Rear of buildings, near New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY, USA

Rear of buildings, near New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY, USA

Adding two today (6.13.2014)

The first was a practice in my own sketchbook of a Van Gogh piece I was using to teach a lesson in perspective. It’s frequently helpful for me to sketch on my own and work out problems before I teach anyone what I’m doing:

sketch, done right before class, pencil on paper

sketch, done right before class, pencil on paper

Second image, I was feeling in a whimsical mood this morning, so I drew Edgar. Edgar is a diminutive, plastic foam Halloween decoration that has decorated my apartments for many years.

"Edgar," charcoal on paper.

“Edgar,” charcoal on paper.


Again, from the book “Hudson Valley Ruins” (it’s a beautiful book, the history in it and the images are top-notch.)




An abandoned car, from the book Hudson Valley Ruins. (above)





This should be a familiar sight to people who frequently travel from Albany to NYC: The Yonkers Power Station (abandoned).

In my current class, which is a “therapeutic” fine arts group held in a hospital, I drew this sketch to the prompt I gave my students, “And then the fire went out. No one noticed.”


Quick architectural sketch. Image from the book “Hudson River Ruins” (Ranaldi, Yasanik [sp?]) The picture is of Fedralsberg, an abandoned ruin south of Albany:


I have also been doing some figure studies:


figure study, pencil on paper


figure study charcoal on paper

Another in my series of images drawing Eduard Manet’s “The Old Musician


A reproduction of G. Klimt


And second, Timmy of Nixon’s Spirit:


So, I am doing a lot of sketching as pre-planning for larger works:

These are the two pieces I posted yesterday I was interested in essentially “tinting” with watercolor:




Study/sketch, pencil on paper. Pollock and Klingman together near the time of the artist’s death. Photo from a NYTimes article.


Two small sketches: above is a figure study of a Libyan opposition fighter.


Figure study, elderly woman with a rake. Pencil on paper.

The following two images I am planning to do further work with. I will do a similar thing as I did with another small work –an image of a depression-era man selling chestnuts from a vending cart. That piece I drew in pencil, and then tinted with watercolor. I am hoping to do that over the next couple days. I will post the results once I have an opportunity to do so.


This is a reproduction/study of Edouard Manet’s “Madame Michel-Levy.” I am starting more and more to keep Manet as among my favorites of the Impressionists.


This is an image of a TV/entertainment mogul. I found the image in the NYTimes. For whatever reason it made me think of the song lyric scribbled next to the image.


The last image is of a young woman, Shawna Timmonds, who was profiled in a NY Times article.

More to come, soon…

These were both in-class demonstrations (charcoal on paper):


(Note the lines and marks made as I illustrating planning and pre-drawing techniques)

Hope to have some more of the recent sketches out of my sketch-book soon. Here’s one of my ideas from the SWPA series…


Sketch for the SWPA.


In class demonstration.


In class demonstration: placement of facial features.


Based on a photo from the New York Times.

In class demonstrations:111_3721 111_3722
For class, sketching hands and feet.

A piece riffing off Edouard Manet’s  “The Old Musician,” it is a series I am considering for the SWPA (see for explanation here:


Here’s a couple more sketches (in color). This piece is pencil and colored pencil on paper. I was working with a student on using color in shadows:


This piece is also a pretty good color study, this time in oil pastel:



New Sketches at Trinity 17, March, 2013 (with commentary)

For those that don’t know, I am an assistant teacher in a fine arts class at Trinity Alliance, a local non-profit serving Albany’s South End. You can learn about the class here:

The class is taught once a week, Saturdays 11-2. I usually get a little time to work on a few things for myself during the time I am teaching. Mostly, I am doing works that demonstrate the skills being taught in the class that day. Most of my arts education was pretty informal, I took some college level studio painting classes, but never took a fine arts degree, so a challenge for me in the class is taking what I learned intuitively, or by practice, and teaching those skills in a manner that my students understand.

I was talking to our head teacher, Malik Huggins, about what he wanted the younger students to do that day (the class is open to adults and children, and we usually have about 3 or so regular students that are younger than 12 or so). About five minutes before class began, I started sketching out a simple line drawing of a cartoonish character. I never studied cartooning, and the form never was very interesting to me as an artist. Still, I needed an image that would be appealing to my young students to help teach them blending with colored pencil.

Here’s the end result that I came up with:

Mario, sketch

Mario, sketch 8” x 11”

It’s sort of fortunate for me, that, being an ’80’s kid, the Mario character is something that plays well to the young set. When I was making this, I was thinking of my own seven-year-old son, because Mario is one of his favorite characters in the games he plays on his Nintendo DS. I plan to frame this and give it as a gift to the kiddo.

This particular page of the blog is going to (eventually) include, a lot of sketching that I have been doing as demonstrations for my students during class. I won’t lie, I learn a lot from the two other artists I work with in the class. We have been doing figure drawing, and a local man has been kind enough to volunteer as a model. I have a whole series of sketches, that, once they are photographed, I will include here.

When I was a fine arts student at a local college, I found doing reproductions of famous artists’ work to be a very helpful learning tool. It’s also helpful for teaching those techniques to my students. So, In class, I have done several reproductions of famous artist’s works as a way to help teach my students:

Some sketches from previous classes:


Reproduction, Pablo Picasso, Harlequin with Mirror, Oil Pastel on Paper

Reproduction, Paul Gauguin, Ancestors of Tehamana, pencil on paper

Reproduction, Paul Gauguin, Ancestors of Tehamana, pencil on paper


The past couple of weeks, the Trinity class has been doing sketches of a still model. Our model, Colin, has generously volunteered his time. Between teaching, I have done several sketches, to demonstrate still-drawing techniques for my students and for my own practice. Here are the sketches over the past couple weeks:

Many of these are just quick figure studies, of a model in a pose for 2-5 minutes, so not really completed works.

Still drawing, seated male

Still drawing, seated male


three still sketches, male model


figure study, male model, standing

figure study, male model, standing



figure sketch, female

abstract sketch of older student

abstract sketch of older student


I’ll be updating as more work is completed…


Lastly, our class is funded entirely by donation. There is a pay-pal link on Trinity’s page (see the link above). If you can make a donation, your money would go directly to buying supplies for our class –which is free and open to the public. Your donation allows us to continue teaching a fine arts class in one of Albany’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, to individuals and families who otherwise might not be able to afford a fine-arts education.