Monthly Archives: October 2016

Sketching an Outdoor Cafe

Outdoor CafeIn our last sketching class we will be trying our hand at an outdoor cafe scene. The focal point is the table and umbrella that is surrounded by all the greenery and flowers. Each of our lessons features a new technique. This week’s class is about color – specifically mixing color. It maybe easy to use every color in our pencil collection but it is better to understand how colors interact so that when our favorite pencil breaks we can continue with our projects. Our challenge will be to see how few colors we can use and still create an interesting composition.

I used five colors in my drawing on the right – gamboge, light cerulean blue, magenta, bistre (light brown), and white. You may be wondering how I used them. Before I tell you let me point out that with pencils you need to layer colors on top of each other to get them to mix. For example I layered the gamboge (a warm yellow) with the light blue in different amounts for the foliage. Less blue for the lighter greens, more blue for the darker greens. You can also increase the value by varying the pressure on the pencil. Heavier pressure gives a stronger color, less pressure a lighter color. Take out a few pencils and see what color combinations you can come up with for your own outdoor cafe sketch.

Next week I’ll be teaching a one-night class on painting poinsettia flowers in Chinese Brush. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Tutorial: Drawing a Teacup

Drawing a TeacupIn this week’s class we will be drawing a teacup. The idea is to become more comfortable with how to draw circles. Circles are a simple shape but the humble circle can be quite challenging to draw. Luckily, I have a way to help tame it’s persnickety behavior.

Before We Begin: It may be helpful to read over this tutorial from beginning to end to familiarize yourself with the steps involved. If you are not comfortable drawing a teacup from imagination refer to a teacup from your cupboard or find a reference photo. Please note I have darkened my sketches in order for them to be easier to see. You’ll want to keep your pencil lines light as you draw.

Materials List: You’ll need a soft pencil (HB, B or 2B), a kneaded eraser and some paper. If you want to color your drawing in pencil use drawing paper that is at least 80lb. If you want to use watercolor washes draw your initial sketch on watercolor paper.

It Starts with a Rectangle

Drawing a Teacup - Start with a RectangleI would like my drawing to show the inside of the cup with the teabag brewing in it. This means I won’t be drawing a perfect circle but one that is slightly squashed, in other words, an oval or ellipse. Begin by drawing a rectangle that represents the height and width of the circle. Lightly mark the center on each side.

Draw an Arc

Drawing a Teacup - Draw an ArcNext, draw an arc that curves from the the top center mark to one of the side marks. Keep your wrist loose as you draw and turn your paper if needed to make a smooth curve. Add another arc to complete the first half of the circle. Repeat these steps to form the entire circle.

The First Circle

Drawing a Teacup - Draw an ArcWhen you have finished drawing the four arcs you should have a circle. Take a minute to look at the narrow ends of the circle. You want them to be rounded not pointed like a football.

If you have any spots that need attention redraw any lines to make a smooth shape. It is better to draw the new line before erasing the old one. It keeps you from repeating the same mistake.

More Circles Become a Teacup

Drawing a TeacupKeep drawing rectangles and arcs until you have a teacup. As you can see from my drawing on the right I had to draw many circles. Don’t rush this process, take your time as you draw.

Once you have a shape you like erase any guidelines. At this stage I would turn my drawing upside down to look at it from a different perspective. You’ll be able to see if your drawing is tilted or skewed to one side or another. Circles should look similar on both sides. You want to strive for as much evenness as you can but, keep in mind some wonkiness is acceptable and lends character to your artwork.

The Finished Teacup

Drawing a TeacupOnce my pencil drawing was complete I added color with Prismacolor Premiere colored pencils. You could also add color in marker, light watercolor washes, or just leave it as is. Don’t forget to sign your piece.

If you have any questions about this tutorial or if there are particular subjects you would like me to demonstrate please leave a comment below or send me a message.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Bass Harbor Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Lighthouse
In tomorrow’s sketching class our artistic adventure will focus on lighthouses. In particular Bass Harbor Lighthouse located on Mount Desert Island. It is a fantastic place to visit and get inspiration from. This is our most involved subject to date and I think it will be a fun challenge.

As we’ve been discussing in class sketching is different from the usual drawings we do. Rather than focusing on achieving a finished piece we are freeing ourselves to explore color and line in new ways. By not focusing on the end result we are more inclined to take chances and try something different. I encourage you to give this one a try.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Autumn in Maine

Cottage in Autumn
September flew by! Hubby and I have been busy with house projects but now that I am back to teaching I’ll be able to post more art. To celebrate autumn and the beginning of October I chose to do a watercolor of a tiny cottage nestled among birch trees.

I love painting trees in a loose style. Rather than focusing on painting individual leaves I can use the tip of the brush to dab on color layering from light to dark. To balance all the gold and orange in the painting I added a touch of violet for the flowers in the grass and planter on the house. Violet is the complement of yellow (in my case gold) so it adds a nice contrast and helps the eye travel through the entire painting.

Coming up this week’s class we will be sketching Bass harbor Lighthouse. I hope you can stop by later in the week to see it. Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!