Loomis Sketch


I’ve been rooting around for something that really tickles my fancy to get me back into painting again. One of my Christmas presents was Andrew Loomis’ Creative Illustration book which has a lot of top notch painting advice and I highly recommend. One of his example paintings is of the lovely lady above and, as I haven’t done much figure work recently, I thought I’d have a go.

She’s done entirely in a combination of ultramarine and burnt sienna. I wanted to try and combine the granularity and washiness of the watercolor with the subtle range of tones in the flesh and face. Pretty happy with the result although the facial likeness to the original is not that close.

Here are some intermediates:


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Started off with a rough pencil drawing and a fairly light wash to put in the main areas of light and dark. I was careful to not leave hard edges where they would draw attention to themselves but also lose edges where the values were similar.


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Next I went in with some darks to define the arms and shoulders and the hair around the face. I put some detail in the face but was careful to keep the values light.


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Next was putting some detail in the dress, defining some of the folds but leaving other areas quite in distinct. Some subtle shading for the hands but kept them with low value contrast so they don’t detract from the face. The face went in next and was almost a disaster as I was working quite small here.


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The final thing and managed to stop before I ruined it. A little more definition in the face and some more interest in the background to frame the face. A little more detail in the hands and a few tweaks to the dress more to aid the composition than anything. Phew!

Nighttime Doodling

Noodling on the ipad last night I tested drawing some people from imagination. Tricky but quite satisfying.

New Year Life Class

Life drawing. Michele Clamp. Conte pencil on newsprint

It was good to get back in the saddle at Andrew Cefalu’s life session. I’ve been getting to grips with Loomis heads on the ipad whenever I can but it’s no substitute for the real thing. As is often the case I was happy with the evening’s work at the time but a couple of days later I’m less impressed. This was my favorite of the night. Especially happy with the feet – definitely got the posture there.

I discovered I had a Conte Pierre Noir pencil in my bag which I didn’t know I had. This was a nice surprise as the wonderful teacher Proko recommends these and I’ve been wondering whether to shell out the $2 to try one. Sadly I didn’t have a knife and my attempts to use my sharpener ended in blunt, lead snapped, tears. Will have to remember to sharpen this for next time. So these are the usual materials – Conte pencil and 16”x20” newsprint.

As usual we started with some 2 minute gestures.

After the usual shaky start I was quite pleased with a number of these. A nice sense of pose and movement in a lot of them.

Next onto the 10 minute ones

I included my false start on the first one. Rather than struggle on I gave up and started afresh. This turned out to be a good idea as it was one of the best of the night.

The final set of the night (15, 30 and 20 mins) including another false start. This is starting to be a thing – abandoning the whole drawing rather than try and correct it. Is this a good thing? Who knows?

All in all a good night’s work. It’s good to be back.

Life Class Again


This came around quickly! Back to
Post Road Art Center

for life drawing with Andrew Cefalu. Had a pretty good week this week. I’m really getting into hands and feet and making good progress. This one was my favorite of the night due to the tight clustering of both the hands and feet.

So as usual we started with 2 minute poses.

It always seems to take a pose or two to warm up. The first one especially is very scruffy but but the third I’m off and running. There was a bit of a screw up in the second one where I had my pad angled too far away from me which produced distortions in the head. Nice line energy in these – pretty happy here.

Next were a couple of 5 minuters.


And the rest were 15 minuters.

Life Class


Life class again last night – this was the last of the session. I thought the session had gone pretty well over all but I didn’t check over my work until this morning. Experience has shown me that how I feel the session went is not necessarily reflected in the result viewed later so I opened the sketch pad warily. But it seems my impressions were right this time. Hooray! I’m really feeling my way round the shapes much more confidently and even the hands and (sometimes) the feet are coming together.

So, as usual, we started with some 2 minute poses :

There’s some very nice stuff in here. I started off a little sketchily (first photo) and I had a few thoughts of ‘how do I do this again?’ but got into my stride quite quickly. Quite happy with these considering they’re only 2 minutes each.

Next a 10 and three 15 minuters.

Even had some time to do some shading on the 15 minute ones. Still having trouble with feet and hands but it’s a world away from where I was a while ago.

Finally 2 twenty minute poses.

Again I was fairly happy with these. Some screwups on the hands and feet but then there usually are. A good nights work.

Finally many thanks to Andrew Cefalu for organizing and monitoring the session and to Lindsey our model.

Life Class – Incremental Gains


A good session at
Post Road Art

last week with Andrew Cefalu in charge and keeping us all in order. Unusually this short 5 minute pose was my favorite of the night. In previous sessions I take about 2 hours to warm up and the last poses are my best and frankly I prefer it that way.

For the record here’s the evening’s work in its entirety, warts and all.

First the two minute poses :

Some nice stuff here. We had a great model with expressive poses and it really does help.

Next the 5 minuters :

Not too bad. I seem to have concentrated on the head and hands which is fine by me. Heads, hands and feet are hard.

Finally the 15 minuters. Not my best of the night but they were fun. Good times.

Life Class Drawings

Figure Drawing at
Post Road Art

Some good and bad this week. And, boy, does 3 hours of drawing take it out of you. As is common the later drawings were more successful and the final 30 minute one above actually has hands and feet that are recognisable. No real tricks here – just improvement based on practice and observation.

So let’s have a run through. First the quick 2 minute sketches.

It’s surprising how much you can get down in two minutes. A lot of these have the general pose captured which is good to see. However if it starts out wrong all is lost and two minutes is too short to recover.

Next the 5 minuters:


Apparently there was only one of these which may mean I misannotated the drawings but anyway – I had trouble from the outset here and didn’t manage to get much down. Never say I only show the good stuff.

Now the 10 and 15 minuters :

Not too bad. A little stilted and I’m struggling with proportions still but I’m fairly pleased.

And the final 30 minute one.


All in all a good night’s work and some time after for some wine.

Life Class – The Cold Light of Day

Life Class Drawing. Michele Clamp. Conte pencil on newsprint.

The last life class was a little frustrating. The pencil didn’t move quite how I wanted and the outcome wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped. This time was different and I felt everything was going really well. When I came to look again at the results this morning, however, I had a bit of a shock. Someone had come in overnight and replaced my beautifully nuanced gestural drawing with a set of badly proportioned, overworked, scribbles. So it goes. Sometimes it happens. Let’s see some evidence.

First some 2 minuters.

Just loosening up really. Our model was really great. Some really good poses and the way she varied her head angle really added interest.

Next some fives and 10s. this one I think was the best page of the night even though they’re only a 5 and a 10 minute pose.

Life drawing. Michele Clamp. Conte pencil on newsprint.


There’s some nice nuance in the lines here and flow to the poses. Even the hands and feet aren’t too shabby.

Some more 5 and 10s.

Next a couple of 15s.


Ok I suppose. As you can see I’m failing completely to capture any sense of a likeness in the face. They all look like completely different people.

Next the best one of the longer poses :

Life drawing. Michele Clamp. Conte pencil on newsprint.

This one has the best sense of the balance of the pose and the light. The hands are dealt with sparsely but descriptively. Yes – happy with this one.

And the final, long pose of the night. At the time I was very pleased with this but sadly disappointed when I came back to it.


And finally our glorious leader Andrew Cefalu. Terrible likeness again but the drawing has some life to it.