Beards, Mustaches, and Mr. Smooth-Face McKinley

I recently had a relaxing weekend at home and was able to get a good amount of work done. The final projects for my M. Ed. are due in a couple weeks, so I spent most of my time on those, but when I needed a break I did some reading and worked on my presidential sketches. I finally finished Harry Ammon’s James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, after picking through it for two months. Perhaps it’s time to turn back to fiction for a little while. I think I’ll dive into Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Somehow I’ve never read that classic.

For my sketches, I worked my way from Chester A. Arthur to Theodore Roosevelt. Looks like our presidents used to sport some awesome facial hair. I had too much fun rendering President Arthur’s mutton chops.presidentialportraits - 9

presidentialportraits - 10


I included Grover Cleveland twice because he came before and after Benjamin Harrison, even though only the first portrait is official. But the second was painted by Anders Zorn and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to study one of his paintings. My goal is to finish all the sketches and then paint over them in Photoshop. This’ll give me an opportunity to experiment with the digital medium, but also a chance to study the color and brush work of the original artists.

Perhaps when I’m done I’ll upload all the portraits in a single collage or poster.


Channeling R. Crumb

While in South Carolina my girlfriend’s uncle let me read several art books from his collection. I was working on creating a lesson plan for Maus at the time and he showed me a few comic artists for inspiration. The book I found the most interesting was The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book. I’d seen Crumb before in An Illustrated Life, but I really got to appreciate his style through the large colored pages. It’s gritty and visceral. He puts a lot of emotion into his mark making. So when I sat down to draw a self-portrait last night I wanted to study his style.

R. Crumb has drawn quite a few self-portraits and I pulled up several for inspiration. Here they are in chronological order:




crumb-2005I mostly used the 1986 self-portrait as inspiration. I feel as though it shows a wide value range, which gave me a lot to reference and study. The 2005 portrait has a great range as well, but I was not doing a full body self-portrait.

As I worked, I flipped back through my browser tabs, constantly analyzing Crumb’s hatching technique.

Selfie 6

Since Crumb is a comics artist I tried to capture a comic book feel through an exaggerated expression. I had a lot of fun scrunching my face into different positions. And the squinted eyelids were much easier to draw than open eyes. The end result reminds me a little of Fight Club. My only complaint is that I made the mouth recede too much. I think this could be solved by darkening the shirt more and putting the majority of the drawing in shadow. Then the mouth would be on the same tone level as everything else.

While I spent a good part of the week looking at R. Crumb drawings, I also found inspiration in some other locations. I found this short painting tutorial which has made me think about how to deal with dark skin tones. And on deviantART I found the following two drawings:


I love how this drawing by Derek Jones is both sketchy and round. The fullness of the form makes it appear almost lifelike.


Then I found Mattias Adolfsson’s drawing among the Daily Deviations and it reminded me of Where’s Waldo. The level of detail keeps the viewer entertained for a long time. I also like the simple, muted colors. Though it’s a playful illustration, color theory is still very strong.

That’s it for today. If I can find the time to finish it, I’ll have a large drawing for next time.


Four Artists to Follow on DeviantART

I’ve been on DeviantART since 2008. At first I only submitted poems and short stories. I was still in high school at the time, and I didn’t draw as much as I do now. For a long time I used the website to keep track of artists I liked. I’ve since transitioned from submitting literary works to submitting artwork, but I still use it to follow artists. I watch hundreds of painters, illustrators, stencilers, and photographers from around the world. Here are four artists I think deserve a little more attention:


Franco has a style that is reminiscent of Disney concept art. He works digitally, using soft brushes and bold shapes. I’ve been a Disney fan since I could walk and talk, so I am naturally drawn to his art.


Pink Lady

Thankfully, Franco is not merely a Disney school cutout. There is not always a storybook lesson attached to his illustrations. His works explore a range of subjects, people, and places.


Coddy and the…

There is plenty to ogle in each of Franco’s works and I often zoom in to see just how he worked out a particular finger, tree, or shirt sleeve.


Looking at the Sky

I’ve been following Franco for a while now and it’s been interesting to see how he develops. At first he was posting mostly single characters sans backdrops. Now he’s moved on to beautiful spreads that incorporate characters and backdrops seamlessly.


The Butterfly Collection of Mr. Emmerson

Franco updates often on DeviantART and can also be followed on his website.


Lois van Baarle goes by loish on DeviantART and is one of the first artists I started following on the site. She works digitally, mostly drawing portraits of women.

glow in the dark

Glow in the Dark

 A couple years ago when I was taking Intermediate Drawing I was talking to a fellow student about our favorite artists. After discussing a couple artists, the other student turned on her phone and said, “Hold on. I wanna show you someone I think you’re really going to like.” When I saw her phone screen turn the classic DeviantART green I asked “Are you looking for loish?” Turns out she was and we spent the next few minutes discussing van Baarle. I’m not sure this story has much of a point, but it’s something I always remember whenever I see a new van Baarle piece. I suppose it shows how art can unify people and spark discussion.



While van Baarle tends to focus on drawing long-haired women (she is truly great at painting hair), I enjoy more her pieces that explore large environments with muted palettes. She is great at using color harmony to evoke emotion.



Like Franco, van Baarle’s illustrations remind me of children’s books. But there’s a darker, more emotional quality in her works, as though her illustrations belong in a picture book for adults.



Lois van Baarle can also be followed on her website.


Francois Beauregard is an architect who posts both his real world drawings and his fantastical sketches to DeviantART.


Design Sketch for House #56

I’ve always been fascinated by architecture and it’s fun to follow an architect who is able to make his drawings become reality.


Original Design for a Hilltop Village

Beauregard’s drawings feel as though they’d be right at home in a fantasy novel or a video game’s loading screens.


Castle-Village Number Four

Every time Beauregard posts a new sketch I am reminded of the cross section books by Stephen Biesty that I used to read when I was little. Perhaps because they both draw medieval style buildings and perhaps because they both love to incorporate crazy detail.


Portrait of House Number 500

Francois Beauregard does not seem to have a permanent website besides DeviantART, but if you’d like to have your next house designed by him you can reach him by email: beauregard.francois@yahoo.com.


David Cheifetz goes by turningshadow on DeviantART, a name that evokes the image of a round object being rendered or described by the sculpting “turning” of a shadow across its surface. Quite the artistic name.



Cheifetz paints a variety of subjects. Portraits, cityscapes, and landscapes are all in his repertoire, but he really shines through his still life paintings.


The Spire

I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Cheifetz, particularly for this painting. He has an incredible eye for composition. Additionally, he plays around with techniques, creating paintings that analyze color, value, subject, and composition.


Value v. Color

Most of his paintings are done with a palette knife, though he also uses brushes. Cheifetz is one of my main inspirations due to his ability to live off his original artwork.



David Cheifetz can also be followed on his website. I highly suggest subscribing to his mailing list. He sends out biweekly updates that break apart his painting process step-by-step.


End of NanoDrawMo

The notebook my mom brought back from Italy is now full. Through the last minutes of November I sketched away on its toothy pages, pursuing my goal of 50 drawings. But when I got to the end of the notebook I only had 32 sketches. I ran out of paper and time. Still, I’m happy. Completing 32 sketches is better than doing none. (If you’re lost right now and don’t know what I’m talking about, go back a couple blog posts.)

I scanned all the drawings and combined them into one large picture in order to show my progression over the month.


After the 14th drawing I started to focus on the motion of the figures. I watched several Youtube drawing videos that emphasized the movement of the figure. Successful drawings embody movement, flowing in a specific direction. Having flow in a figure drawing is what gives it life and prevents it from becoming stiff. Since the notebook is a little larger than pocket-size, I had to work fairly small. You can see how cramped I was in the first few drawings. But I got used to it.

I’ve been drawing a lot and neglecting painting, but I think it will benefit me. Drawing forces me to focus on line, something I don’t normally think a whole lot about when I’m painting. When I go back to the canvas, I’ll definitely be using more line.

Here are all the individual drawings that weren’t uploaded in the last NaNoDrawMo post:




I love this pose. I’m gonna have to come back to it some other time and try to loosen it up. I think it would be better to have her arms follow a more exaggerated swooping, bowed line of movement.















Here you can really see the flow I was talking about. The whole figure curves out from top left and back down towards bottom left. The eye is forced to follow this movement.









Probably my favorite sketch of the whole lot. The forms of the body have a roundness to them that accentuates the sweeping motion of the body.


















I’ll definitely be doing NaNoDrawMo next year. It’s excellent practice. And because I spent so much time drawing on small sheets of paper, I went out and bought another small drawing pad for my chest pocket. That way I’ll always have a drawing pad to use when I’m out and about and have nothing to do.



Every November people around the world undergo the personal challenge of writing a novel in a month. This event is known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve thought abut participating in the past, but have not made that leap yet. However, this year I am participating in NaNoDrawMo. Woo! Yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Somebody took the idea of NaNoWriMo and modified it for artists. Though they should probably rethink the acronym. It doesn’t translate perfectly for drawing. Right now it seems to be National Novel Drawing Month. Eh. I suppose “Novel” could be replaced with “November” and then the issue would be solved. Let’s just say that’s the way it is. And maybe that is the way it is, I just couldn’t find a definite source for what the NaNoDrawMo acronym stands for.

The rules are simple:

Complete 50 drawings or sketches by the end of November.

I’m going to be focusing on figure drawing. My parents brought me back a leather notebook from their trip to Italy and I’m going to try to fill it up with quick figures done in pen.

Color Scan

Here’s a color scan of the opened notebook. See that stringy tassel on the left? That ties the pages into the leather. But why is it visible on the front page? Well, it’s not. I opened the book the wrong way and wound up starting in the back. I don’t know if I should just continue going in reverse or start again at the front.


This was originally drawn in pencil and then gone over with a wash of tea. I’ve seen other artists use tea and coffee like watercolors, so I wanted to give it a try. I ran into two roadblocks. The teabag had already been used to make a couple cups of tea and was incredibly weak by the time I got to sketching. The color of the water wasn’t strong enough. The second roadblock was the paper. The water chewed it into a fuzzy mess. I’ve painted on non-watercolor paper before and usually the water just bows the paper. The fibers in this paper must just be too loose.

Hoping to salvage the mess I’d made, I attacked the drawing with my pen. I worked with the wet spots and let the ink bleed. However, the left side was mostly dry and I was able to use a firm line there. I kinda like the contrast between hard and soft.

All these drawings were done from references on deviantART. This reference can be found here.













Let’s see if I can reach 50 sketches. I should be able to.