Drawing a Heart and the Importance of Good Equipment

I volunteered at my daughter’s school today and got to drive her home instead of waiting in car line. I didn’t get to start any artwork until around 9:45. I decided to draw a 3D Heart. I have done so many spheres and eggs and pyramids that I figured a new shape would be fun. I didn’t just want to draw any old heart, though. I decided to draw a heart at a super weird angle!

Through this little late-night exercise, I was reminded how important good equipment can be to the final outcome of your piece?

Why, you may ask?

Because tonight was a total equipment fail.

Here are some areas where equipment makes all the difference:

  • Pencil choice. Yes there are tons of artists pencils out there. I prefer the Mars Lumographs. I like how they blend, and I am used to them. Whatever pencils you choose are probably your favorites. I guarantee you that any pencil works better than the Target Generic Mechanical Not-Really-An-HB mechanical pencil that I decided to grab. Oh yeah, success at my fingertips… (I’ve actually found that the more expensive Bic mechanicals work really well.)
  • Paper. This, again, is personal. Just not that when you buy a Michael’s Artist’s Loft Sketchbook with 100 pages, it’s not the best, most blend-able paper out there. Nor should it be. It’s a sketchbook. It’s designed for people who need to do a quick sketch of a football or a 3D heart so they can draw something and go to bed.
  • The blending stump. Until tonight, I never would have thought the blending stump you choose mattered to the finished product. I bought some new ones off Amazon. I’m not sure if they were the problem or if it was me choosing the smallest on possible for no real reason other than I wanted to save my big ones for something more “important.” Anyway, this skinny blending stump, well it didn’t. You had one job to do, Stumpy! (On another note, these stumps will go aerosol when you have to grind them up with sandpaper, so make sure they are made of something you aren’t allergic to. I’m allergic to grain, including rice and corn., and I once bought stumps made of rice paper. I don’t mind touching rice paper, but little bits of rice paper sawdust floating through the air are bad for the breathing.)
  • Eyes. You need good eyes to draw stuff. If you don’t have good eyes, improve them. Get—and wear—glasses when you are trying to draw. I was lazy and did not get my glasses. It totally shows.
  • Erasers. I need my Tombow. I was already in bed and didn’t want to get it. So I used the generic Target Mechanical Pencil eraser, which doesn’t. My heart highlights aren’t. (The paper doesn’t help the eraser, either.)

One non-equipment related item. Posture and seating. Not only does lying on your side trying to draw in bed make your neck hurt, but it also doesn’t give you a good view of your work or a good angle to draw. My work is skewed partially because of laying on my bed instead of sitting up. (The other part of the issue is probably a Michelle Error…)

Anyway, what this amounted to: I couldn’t blend anything smoothly, so the heart looks cheesy. I couldn’t erase the heart highlights, and I couldn’t see whether or not my eraser was in the right spot because 1) I couldn’t actually see that close and 2) the eraser didn’t erase enough.

Below is the heart. It’s not too bad considering, but I’m definitely seeing how equipment and art supply choices make such a big difference.

Here is the reference picture:

What about you? Have you ever had an equipment fail?

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Drawing a Quick Football and more Niagara Falls

I managed to get through Covid only missing one day of drawing. Yesterday, I completed some more of the Niagara Falls picture, but I wasn’t able to post much. Tonight, I knew I wanted to draw, but I didn’t really have time to sit down and work on the falls since they were so intricate. I decided to draw a football, since that was kind of what I watched this weekend.

This is not the best football, nor is it anything I would try to sell. But it works. I drew something today, and I made the football’s shadow look like grass, so that was cool.

Here is my football:

I would talk more about it, but I need to get to bed so I can get Ellie to school tomorrow.

Here was yesterday’s Niagara Falls work. I basically started working on the middle falls after finishing the lower falls.

That last part is going to take a lot of detail work, so I’m saving it for car line.

Have a great evening, folks!

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Trying to Keep Up an Art Habit With Covid Omicron

It took almost two years into the pandemic for me to get Covid. My husband brought it home. Fortunately, we are both vaccinated and I got my booster in December, so our symptoms have been mostly mild. Two things have been frustrating, however.

  • Being exhausted with chills and aches
  • Having to take care of a hyper 6 year old who apparently doesn’t have Covid.

Normally she could go to school if Mommy and Daddy both just had mild colds with a sore throat, but we didn’t feel comfortable doing that.

Anyway, I have two things that I do as a rule every day:

  • Yoga (except I only do that 6 days a week to give myself a full day off)
  • Art

I gave up Yoga the moment my sore throat hit after my husband’s positive Covid test because I’ve read too many article on discontinuing exercise during Covid. However, I definitely want to keep the Art habit going. The problem is the exhaustion. I considered letting it go for today, but that would break my cycle of doing art each day for over a year. Right after my shower, I sat down with my sketchbook and added more detail to the Niagara Falls picture I’m doing. It only took about 10 minutes.

Here is what I have so far:. I worked on more of the lower falls section on the bottom left corner:

Yesterday, I worked on my picture while I was sitting on the sidewalk in line for my Covid test:

Have a healthy weekend! I’m heading to bed to try to shake this thing.

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Drawing Niagara Falls: Part 5

I’m looking at my last blog post and laughing on the inside because I said something about how my day was boring. That was Monday. Monday night, my husband came home and said he felt like he might be getting a cold and Tuesday afternoon he had a fever and tested positive for Covid. Needless to say, Tuesday was anything but boring. (I tested negative and the child has no symptoms so we have quarantined him to back of the house. We aren’t too worried because he was vaccinated and is already getting over it. He says the nasty two-month cough/cold that we all came down with in November felt tons worse than this.)

I’ve been working on the lower falls of my Niagara Falls picture. It’s slow coming, but I’m getting the hang of it. Right now, they look more like fog than rushing water, but I will get there soon.

Here it is so far. The bottom left is where all my newest work is. Ignore that weird looking dark “silver lining” around the bottom. It will eventually be turned into the other middle waterfall. I just needed to be able to see where the lower falls ended:

Have a great evening and stay healthy.

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Drawing Niagara Falls – Part 4

Some days, Art is totally boring. Like today. Today was boring.

Seriously, the most action-packed part of my day happened when I mopped the floors.

Anyway, I’m working on this Niagara Falls picture. I’m trying to make it look roaring and powerful without having to draw all the little drops. I don’t want it to looks stiff because it’s easy to make waterfalls looks stiff when you draw them. I think the issue I’ve had before is the angle of the water. It’s easy to draw the water angle flat. I ended up erasing some of my previous shading in the middle falls and changing the angle, making it fly farther forward.

During car line, I finished up the upper falls. I moved to the middle falls, but I began to realize that I need to map out the lower falls first.

Yep that was all I could get to during car line. I’m really hoping I can get more done tomorrow.

Here is what I have so far:

Here is the reference photo:

Have a great evening, folks!

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Drawing Niagara Falls- Part 3 (and a lesson learned)

I’m still working on this Niagara Falls drawing. I spent as much time resting today as I could to try to stop this cold before it took root (and it worked btw), so I only spent a few minutes on the picture. I began filling in the shading on the upper falls.

Problem: I didn’t shad it correctly in the beginning. I stretched out the left side too much and then I moved to the right side, and the dark part in the middle should be much bigger. I keep struggling to figure out where I am. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter as the viewer won’t be comparing the drawing to the reference picture, but they ing to figure out where I am and how to fix it is taking time.

Moral of the story: Do it right the first time and erase the darn thing if you have to instead of doubling down on a mistake in the layout phase of a picture.

Anyway, here is what I have so far:

Have a great evening, everyone!

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Niagara Falls Drawing – Part 2

Well, I’ve got a scratchy throat. I’m not sure if it’s Covid or not, and finding a testing sight might prove difficult. I will see how I feel tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ve slowed my exercising down to stretching, just in case. I’m turning in for the night to try to sleep this thing off, but I wanted to show you the past two days of work.

  • In car line yesterday, I deepened the dark mountain in the back. I also used the extra black in my stump to build up the fog more. I will probably build it up even more before the end.
  • Today, I added the first layer of water detail. I stopped short of the falling water part. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to draw in the falling water yet.
  • I really want to concentrate on contrast with this. My pencil sketches are often too light, like I’m afraid of contrast and drama, so I’m going to really make sure I add more shadows to the shadows, if that makes sense.

Here is what I have so far. Please note this isn’t nearly finished yet.

Have a great evening and stay healthy!

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Drawing Niagara Falls

I’m back to the old routine of sitting in car line for an hour and drawing. I’ve decided to tackle Niagara Falls, because you know, why do something easy?

I’ve been working on this one for two days now. A few things I’ve been thrilling through when it comes to composition, etc.:

  • Do I draw the falls with straight shimmery lines like you see in long exposure photos, or do I draw them more like the reference picture where you can almost see the individual droplets?
  • How on earth do I draw fog?

I googled how and why photographers choose to use long exposure bs short exposure when taking pictures of waterfalls. The consensus: it depends on the waterfall. Delicate ones look better with longer exposure. Raging falls look better with more texture.

I’m going with more texture on this one, but I’m not sure how it’s going to play out at the end.

I figured out a good way to at least start fog. My blending stump has a bit of graphite on it, and I used the stump to “draw” the fog today. I will put in more detail, but it’s a good start.

Yesterday I blocked out the lights and darks. Today I blocked out the waterfall and started some detail on the mountain in the background.

Here is today’s work:

This is yesterday’s. It’s a lot more boring with just the colors blocked out and not waterfall blocking.

Here is the reference:

I’ve got a ways to go. Have a great evening, folks!

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Sketching Distant Dragons and the Importance of Scale

I’m working on a painting for my friend. I’ve painted the mountain-scape, and I want to add a small dragon flying in the distance. I’ve been scouring the Internet for reference photos to get ideas from, and I’ve sketched a couple yesterday and today. Here they are:

I think I’m going to choose one of the last two and work from there.

When I finally add the dragon, I’m going to need to keep scale, value, and detail in mind. If you see the below picture, the closest mountain range is a black silhouette, so detail isn’t necessary. However, if this dragon were flying closer, I would need to add more detail.

Here is the sticking point. Take a look at the trees in the foreground. Assume the tallest is an old spruce or a balsam. The dragon can’t really be much bigger than that tree when it stands on its hind legs, so I will need to make sure I keep the foreground dragon to scale with the trees, and the same color. If I draw it any bigger, I will need to give it more detail and make it less of a silhouette. Any dragon that I draw that is smaller than the trees needs to be high enough show that it is in the distance over the correct mountain range, and it needs to be a similar color.

I will work on all of this tomorrow.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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Watercolor Foggy Mountains: Painting the Foreground

I’m trying to get back into watercolor by painting a picture for my friend. This will eventually include a dragon flying over the mountains, but I don’t have much time until my daughter goes back to school, so I’m working in batches. Today I painted the dark mountains in the foregrounds.

It looks simple, but I’m struggling with putting the paint wet on dry without it looking streaky. (See the left picture.) I practiced a bit and figured out that the best consistency was quite dark, and went to work. I’m not fond of my trees, but I’m ready to paint dragons and letters tomorrow.

Here it is:

The left is my practice one. See the streaks?

Have a good evening everyone!

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