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Automatic drawing which turned into a botanical

pencil in an 8×10″ sketch pad

Last week as we walked out of Target to the parking lot, what do we see but a large black bear wandering around.  He clearly had forgotten where he was parked.   We respectfully waited until he found his car and drove off.  🙂 My sister said that bears also want good quality at affordable prices.

Did I mention I’m over bears?  He eventually ran into the woods and we got in our car and drove away.

Two days ago the city installed new stop signs on our corner. To alert drivers of the change they also installed signs leading up to the stop sign. Like this:

If your job is to install traffic and street signs and you don’t see the GLARING TYPO in this sign, perhaps this job is not for you.  Since I am a civic minded person, I wrote to the city to alert them of this issue which, admirably, they fixed the next day.  So shout out to them!

The above drawing was done using a method called automatic drawing.  Automatic drawing was started by the surrealists to free themselves of representational art.  I believe the first person to do it was the artist Andre Masson.

Andre Masson and automatic drawing

We started by taking a pencil or two (one in each hand) and just making lines without looking or thinking. This is different from blind contour drawing, which is drawing while looking at the object but not at the paper. Once we had some lines on the page we went back and this time, since it was a botanical drawing class, we looked for shapes that could be plants, leaves or flowers and drew back into the lines.   It was great fun and I will do it again.




Grace Church Spires, NYC – Watercolor on Arches 300# cold press.  Approximately 18″ x 22″

A number have people have asked where I have been and expressed that they have missed my posts.  And when I say a “number” of people I mean two people.

Hey, two is a number.  🙂

I’m posting today and that is miracle #1.  Miracle #2 is what happened last week…

…when my dog bolted after a bear in our backyard.  She got swatted across the face and sheepishly came back to us.  We were screaming her name, but she was in full protect mode.  The bear whacked her and then turned away.  Luckily poochie came back with only a small cut under one eye, another over the other eye and a cut on her shoulder.  We checked her carefully and cleaned the cuts.  Other than being a bit dazed, she was ok. It could have been so much worse.  She is one lucky dog!   After we took care of her we went on the deck in the backyard to see not only mama bear, but 3 small cubs up our tree.  Turns out, Mama bear was in full protect mode too.  Normally when dogs chase bears out of yards, the bears just run away.  No matter what, I’m happy my dog wasn’t hurt badly and I hope she has learned not to chase bears.


Here are two of the three cubs.  Aren’t they cute!  And here’s mama after she and the cubs moved down the mountain from our house to a neighbors house:

I’ve been working on the above Grace Church painting for the past few weeks.  Again, I started with a grisaille in Paynes Gray to get the values and then added local color, ending with some splashing of paint.

I’m still taking the botanical drawing class.  Here’s a peony drawing from last week.

Thanks for visiting.


caladium leafCaladium leafchristmas fernChristmas Fern
flower - pencil fake sweet shrubVenus Sweet Shrub in pencil

flower pen and inkVenus Sweet Shrub in pen & Ink

branch with lichenTree branch with lichen

I decided to take a drawing class at the local community college.  That class was full, but they offered a class called “Nature’s Notebook” and since I’m now surrounded by a whole lot of nature I thought I’d give it a whirl. The instructor, an avid gardener and artist named Peter Loewer, a/k/a “the wild gardener” brings in items from his garden for us to draw.  He will lecture a bit at the beginning of class about styles of drawing and particular drawings of plants and then we begin drawing.

I was in the art studio one day when some women from NY came in looking at the art.  One woman who had a thick NY accent told us about the NY Accent test.

Wanna take it?  OK, here goes:

Say L-O-G…log

Say H-O-G…hog

Say F-O-G…fog

Say D-O-G…dog

If you pronounced dog just like log, hog and fog, congratulations, you have failed the NY accent test.  However, if you pronounced dog unlike the first 3 and more like dawg, congratulations you passed the NY accent test!

If you’re wondering, I passed the test with flying colors.  🙂


30 minute pencil sketch of 3 drinking vessels on 9 x 12 paper

There are many times when I wish I had the authority to arrest someone or hand out summonses.  Just because people annoy me.  Not YOU, gentle reader, but the people on the subways, in traffic or on the streets.

Many years ago, before The Husband actually became a NYC police officer, he and I took a NY State court officer test. This was a written test and if one passed the test it would be followed by a physical and psychological test. We  laughed because we KNEW no one in their right mind would give me a gun.

I got a really high score and was called immediately.   I didn’t go because, well, let’s face it

A. I probably wouldn’t have passed the psychological;

B. No one would (or should) give me a gun and;

C. I really don’t look good in dark blue polyester.

The Husband finally took the NYPD test and the rest is history. Which brings me to last night’s dog walking conversation.

As Charlie and I crossed the street while walking the dogs, some idiot in a big, fancy BMW SUV made an illegal u-turn and almost ran us down. We both said if we could hand out summonses….!   This reminded Charlie of the time he was speeding down the West Side Highway (which is not a highway it’s just a street with a lot of lights frivolously named a highway) when he was pulled over.  The following conversation took place:

COP: Did you realize you were doing a zillion miles an hour in a 30 mph zone?

CHARLIE: (pulling his response from a place where the sun doesn’t shine)  Didn’t you see that car that was chasing me?

COP: Yeah, right, whatever.  Here’s your ticket.  You can dispute it if you like.

(The light bulb when off in Charlie’s head.  (And because he had nothing better to do.)  I’m going to dispute this ticket!)

Several months later:

JUDGE: Were you speeding on the West Side Highway?

CHARLIE: There was a car chasing me!

JUDGE (to Cop): Did he say there was a car chasing him when you pulled him over?

COP: Yes

JUDGE: Case dismissed!

We laughed and laughed.

Well,  that was a long story to talk about the above drawing.  It was part of the drawing class I took with The Sister and The Nephew.  The assignment was to do a 30 minute drawing of 3 drinking vessels.  I was so focused on getting the glasses correct that I didn’t pay attention to the table.  Once I looked at it from afar I realized those 3 drinking vessels were going to slide right off the table.  What was I thinking?  Where was a cop when I needed one?  He could have said “Stop right there ma’am, you’re going to fast.”  My response?  Didn’t you see that clock that was chasing me?

Drawing exercise – Creamer – pencil

A recent study out of Sweden now shows that two cups of coffee a day helps to PREVENT strokes.  It wasn’t long ago that coffee wasn’t good for you.  Now it is.  I can’t keep up.  I’m still waiting for the day when they tell you cigarettes and french fries are good for you.   (I’ve quit the cigarettes and am trying to cut down on the fries.)

I remember one time many, many years ago when The Husband, The brother-in-law (the Husband’s brother) and I went to see an off, off Broadway show called “Smoking Newports and eating French Fries”.  We went to the show based on the title, cause really, how could it be bad?   It was so bad we walked out even before intermission.

The Husband drinks TONS of coffee.   He is the epitome of the cop drinking coffee stereotype.  He will make a pot of coffee in the morning, drink it all, go to work, drink more coffee and then come home and make coffee before he goes to bed.  I have MAYBE one cup of coffee in the morning.  Sometimes.

The best coffee EVER is to be found in the Caribbean, Central and South America.  Give me a cafe con leche any time!

I remember one time when the aforementioned brother-in-law was living in Seattle and came back for a visit.  He brought his own coffee.  It was right at the time when the whole West Coast coffee Starbucks snobbery was starting and I was HIGHLY insulted.  Really Jimmy!  I have never forgotten that!

So here’s to coffee!  I like mine with milk and sugar.  If I have a stroke I’m gonna be really pissed!

Abstract exercise –  graphite on 14″ x 17″ Strathmore drawing paper

One Saturday morning at drawing class, the teacher wanted us to loosen up by doing an abstract drawing.

Huh?  What were we supposed to do?  There wasn’t going to be a still life to draw from?  No! He wanted us to “Break up the page with diagonals and horizontals and then draw something in each section.  Use tones, lines, organic or geometric shapes. Anything.  Just try to make each section  different.”

This is what I ended up with.  And you know what?  I really liked it. And you know what else?  So did the teacher.  I knew this when he whispered to me that mine was his favorite.

My sister a/k/a “Big Ears” Alice overheard this and proceeded to call me “teacher’s pet” the rest of the day.  This was funny because since I was kicked out of kindergarten for (allegedly) spitting on the teacher and then spending the next 12 years hiding from and not being fond of (to put it mildly) the nuns and lay Catholic school teachers, I have never, ever been known as the teacher’s pet.

Look at me now.

I’ve spent the week reclining on, to quote Warren Zevon, “the davenport of despair.”  Deaths, illness and stress have me in a no-fly zone.  And don’t even get me started on Japan.  I see that and I want to hit myself for feeling sad, but who says this makes sense.  It doesn’t.

At least Charlie Sheen has been keeping me amused.


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