Showing posts from August, 2012


Art, being bartender, is never drunk
And magic that believes itself must die
                         -- Peter Viereck This passionate drawing by Bob Peak shows how he became swept up by the fury and speed of a horse race...

...except it turns out that Peak made several careful studies to achieve that spontaneous look.  He re-copied drafts on tracing paper, preserving the elements he liked.

He even drew faint pencil guidelines so he would know the best way to make his bold, slashing strokes appear free and unconstrained:

Peak employed a conjurer's tricks to create the magic in this art.  (Viereck described art as "a hoax redeemed by awe.")  It might have felt more personally cathartic for Peak if he reacted to the thrill of the race by making wild, unrehearsed lines.  However, the resulting art seems more vigorous and potent because of Peak's multiple drafts.

David Seymour took the following photograph of a young Polish girl who, after being freed from a Nazi concentration …

My portrait demo on sale now!

The sale price for my video demonstration is on for just a couple more days (goes back to regular price Sept 1), buy now if you're interested!

Here's the final drawing from the video.

This last image is a value analysis that I hope those of you interested in portrait drawing will find helpful: it has a noise reduction filter laid over it to remove detail and texture leaving only the value structure. It's nerve wracking to do a live demo like this one, the video crew won't come back another day if you wreck the portrait being filmed so you have to have some ideas about holding the drawing together. My idea is to carefully keep the value structure organized and grouped for a naturalistic lighting effect that is believable and clear, and that lends strength to the composition. I hope you enjoy the video.


America's great poet, Walt Whitman, worked most of his life writing and revising his epic poem, Leaves of Grass.  He would add or subtract new sections and change lines,  refining his masterpiece.

But Whitman fretted that he might not realize when his age and disabilities were beginning to erode the quality of his masterpiece:
As I sit writing here, sick and grown old,
Not my least burden is that dulness of the years, querilities,
Ungracious glooms, aches, lethargy...
May filter in my daily songs.  To protect his work, Whitman had to recognize when he was no longer capable of doing his very best.  Even more important, he had to have the strength of character to give up what he loved when the time came.   It is tempting to lower your standards just a little bit, and continue to milk your past successes a little longer.   It's hard to love your art more than yourself.

I have previously written of my great admiration for the work of Richard Thompson.  His hilarious comic strip, Cul de…

My Portrait Drawing Video is Here!

I'm excited to announce that my portrait drawing video is now available for pre-sale! Order before the end of August to get the sale price, it will come online for download the middle of September, complete info and description are here.

Portrait in Charcoal

I'll be on the theme of portrait drawing in my posts for the next couple of weeks, and if you're in the LA area come on out to my Workshop this Saturday, August 18th where I'll show you how this is done.

This one is done with charcoal and white nupastel on strathmore 500 series charcoal paper.


This lovely drawing was a single panel in a story by Mort Drucker for MAD Magazine in 1972. 

It occupied a mere 3.75 inches x 12.75 inches in the magazine. You could not possibly see or appreciate the variety of faces in this panel.

Until now.

Here are 25 of my favorites, larger than life:

The brilliant Drucker drew for MAD for over 50 years,  producing hundreds

Portrait Drawing Workshop on August 18!

I'm very excited to invite you out to my portrait drawing workshop on Saturday August 18, 12-8pm. To enroll contact The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, (877) MY-LAAFA (695-2232)

For this workshop I'll present a slideshow that will take you through the principles you need know to successfully draw a portrait from life, I'll do a full demonstration in charcoal then turn the time over to you to draw from a live costume model with me as your coach. The workshop will include:

• The fundamentals of constructing the head with the values of light and shadow. • Principles for creating the illusion of space and volume on a 2 dimensional drawing surface. • Ideas for portrait composition and creating a likeness. • Techniques and tips on materials and the drawing process. • Instructor demonstration from a live model. • Student drawing time from a live model with instructor feedback.

See you there!

Earth invades Mars on August 5th!

-Update 08-06-12: Congrats to the JPL team for nailing what looked like an impossible landing! It was incredible to watch events unfold live on the big screen. If you didn't have a chance to see it check out the replay here which includes cg recreation, and this extended version that stays inside mission control and gives a good sense of the suspense and celebration.-
I'll be down at the JPL/Planetary Society Planetfest in Pasadena this weekend for the Mars Landing, it's fun to be alive in a time when people are sending robots to other planets.

No, mars does not have rings, this is actually an illustration of an interstellar probe visiting Barnards Star, a nearby red dwarf I sketched back in '93, it's all I had handy.

And since we do the occasional science fiction reference here, the recommended read of the week is David Brin's new novel Existence. It's a tour de force of life in 2050 and uniquely solves the Fermi paradox but with the appropriate mystery, t…

DOUGLAS DUER (1887-1964)

You don't hear much about Douglas Duer these days but the once popular illustrator painted for books and magazines from 1912 until the Great Depression.

A student of Howard Pyle, Duer worked for magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Collier's and Red Book, and illustrated covers for Zane Grey novels such as Riders of the Purple Sage.  During the Depression Duer's illustration work dried up so he found work painting murals for the WPA.  Later he made a living doing advertising work and greeting cards.

 Duer belonged to that school of artists who painted the world in smooth, rounded forms with no cracks, sharp points or frayed edges.  His figures had skin like a porcelain doll's.

It's difficult to say why a whole flock of artists during this period were attracted to such a clean, artificial look, but artists such as Enoch BollesTamara de Lempicka, Thomas Hart Benton and Dean Cornwell all painted with a similar style.  They took the idealized flesh of Ingres a…