More 30 Faces 30 Days

I do love faces! And Sktchy is doing another 30faces30days challenge/course, this time 30 teachers demo-ing pencil drawing portraits. Not really my thing, so I’m doing a parallel play thing, painting the poses that are chosen.

watercolor, pen, pastel pencil on gray toned paper

A difficult pose, this one, chosen for that very fact. The human countenance is so rubber. It swells and shrinks in different gyrations of expression. 

A theatrical pose. One imagines an actor on stage in a tense scene of morbid anticipation.

white gouache and white gel pen on black toned paper

I loved the challenge of painting the white and light values rather than the dark. It’s the kind of reverse thinking that tickles new brain cells.

Inktober Continues

I’ve fallen in love with ink all over again, dipping into it on a daily basis. And not just black ink, but colored inks. All thanks to the Inktober challenge and the Sktchy School app and my son Andrew, who decided to do it with me.

sumi ink and brush

Day 7: Fancy The source photo is courtesy Sktchy and the teacher of the day who selected it: Dylan Sara

by Andrew
Day 8: Teeth. Golden, red-black and sumi ink on toned paper with white pastel
Day 8: Teeth. by Andrew
Day 9: Throw (back). Sumi ink
Day 9: Throw. by Andrew
Day 10: Hope. by Andrew
Day 11: Disgusting. by Andrew
Day 12: Slippery. Noodler’s Golden ink, Higgins violet and black inks
Day 12: Slippery. by Andrew
Day 13: Dune. Higgins red and blue inks, red-black and sumi inks and brush
Day 14: Armor. Sumi ink
Day 15: Outpost. Noodler’s golden and Higgins blue and sumi ink and brush

The word prompts are just there to get you going, not to slavishly adhere to them. It’s all about ink-love. But I better get going with Day 16. The sun has already set!


 Have we used up all our anxiety on police brutality and racial injustice, the pandemic, global warming, and the upcoming elections? Apparently not.

Once again there are dark smoky skies raining ash and a neon red hot sun, and we’re spending our days checking the evacuation maps and nights  listening to our cell phones ding/beep/shriek at us about new warnings. 

My family of three is still here, watching and waiting, and not so close to the fires as we were a month ago. But oh lordy, my friends across the plain are evacuating and it’s another deja vu. 

It calms me down to sketch people. This guy is from the Sktchy app that has the interesting poses. When I finished it this afternoon I realized he looked like an evacuee, waiting to find out if his house burned down.

I never really spent much time learning to paint with gouache. It’s really quite different from other mediums. But I’m determined to make use of the black toned paper in my sketchbook and I need to use an opaque medium. So I will just muddle through and keep trying til it becomes more natural. I finished it off a bit with pastel pencil.

I thought I’d save this one for Halloween! I mean we can’t go trick or treating this year so maybe I’ll just sketch more of these. I made a pretty girl look a bit goulish. She did have yellow hair though.

Decided to sign up for the Inktober challenge on Sktchy and practice some new ink portrait licks with tips from the teachers.  I’m hoping it will keep me from the anxieties lying in wait at every turn. Want to join me?


I have been an art store junky for many, many years. And so I am quite well equipped to tackle new materials whenever the fancy seizes me. I recently purchased a Stillman + Birn’s Nova Series toned paper sketchbook with beige, black and gray pages. 

I’ve been loving the beige paper for my portraits, after a long run of doing them on the gray, with pen, watercolor and a few touches of pastel pencil. The Sktchy app supplies me with the most wonderful subjects, which they call “muses”. Like this adorable guy Zel.

But in order to break into the black paper section of the sketchbook, I got out my gouache paints with the pastel pencils.

This may be the dawn of the up-in-your-face faces! All my fine watercolor skills flew out the window. How liberating. Gotta do more of these.

Meanwhile my in-person model is available and I’m taking advantage, in yet another, more familiar style of watercolor-what-you-can-before-it-moves.

We actually had breathable air today and a sun we could see and even a blue sky!

Not Procreated

This month’s #30faces30days challenge on Sktchy is also a course in Procreate-ing portraits. Although it looks like a lot of fun to draw with an iPad, and certainly makes correcting mistakes a lot easier, as well as ease of switching media, I have steadfastly resisted the trend. I won’t bore you with my reasons, but it has to do with already spending way too much time on computers, what with reading the news and answering email and so much more.  Also I just love the feel of a real brush and paper. Are you bored yet?

So I just tune into the photos each day and paint the ones that intrigue, on beige toned paper with pen and watercolor and some pastel pencil. As I’ve said before, there’s so much variety in source pictures, like Baby Kohler here.


At the risk of sound very weird. . .as I was working on this portrait I could almost feel the warmth of that little body on mine, and I kept getting a whiff of that unmistakable sweet sour scent of mother’s milk which I haven’t smelled (not being a grandmother yet) for about 26 years. That’s how up close and personal this remarkable image was!


And then along came Mike with his kinky/curly locks, and I couldn’t resist making him gorgeous. I hope he doesn’t mind. My prerogative, as the artist, after all.


This pose was a nice change, good practice for when I’m out sketching on location again. . . some day.


Only a slight exaggeration of the the photo. Love that hot pink hair!


And then, the prettiest black lady . . .with an ice cream sundae of hair piled high.

Variety is the spice

A variety of faces, that’s what I enjoy about the Sktchy app. Young, old, men, women, racial differences, attitudes and expressions. . .variety is the spice. And what great practice! I fuss over each portrait until I get bored and stop before I’m really finished, which means before I’ve totally lost it!


Sticking with the gray toned paper here, drawing in pen, painting with watercolor and finishing off with a bit of white gel pen, pastel pencil or gouache. The paper buckles from the wet watercolor and makes it hard to photograph evenly.


I just didn’t have a good strategy to paint the very dark skin and didn’t want to ruin it, so I stopped!

day8 I loved the drawing and the hair, but messed up on the shadows, making them too purple. Argh.


That glorious hair was a lot of work and I wasn’t happy til I got out the blue violent gouache.


Another handsome young man and this time I didn’t make the black skin too dark!


Now that I’m starting to get the hang of painting dark skin I’ve forgotten how to do light skin! Luckily the 30faces30days challenge is still going!

Expressive Faces

Oh I do love to draw and paint people. Here’s the latest. The Sktchy app is so great for finding really expressive faces.


watercolor, black pen and white gel pen on gray toned paper


There’s a new month of Sktchy’s 30faces30days challenge. This gentleman totally charmed me with his picture. I mean can’t you imagine all the years he spent out in the sun? And I do hope that now he’s a jefe, a boss man with his own ranch.


And Mr. Nakashidze, what a face you have! I can’t guess what country you’re from.

I can’t stop drawing!

One might feel sort of lonely these days, not getting to see your friends or family in person. But one thing is sure. As long as you have wifi and a device to watch, you don’t have to draw alone. I tuned into Sktchy school recently and got to draw Dylan with France Van Stone, a favorite drawing teacher I remember from one of the early Sketchbook Skool courses.


Well I don’t really draw like France, but I enjoyed listening to her commentary and drawing along with her. It made the time go so fast! This is pen, watercolor and pastel pencil on toned paper.


The subject of these studies will remain unnamed (so that I don’t get in trouble!) I did these studies from pictures I took on Face Time using a cool filter which maps the value shapes in interesting ways, making it actually easier to get a likeness and so much fun to paint. The conversation went through various changes from relaxed to animated. What a great tool to learn portrait drawing!


Same person in these two portraits here. Quite an emotional range! Unfortunately I didn’t have access to the filter I used in the previous ones but I’m still practicing mapping warm and cool shapes that show volume.

One could say that these are examples of the emotional roller coaster we all find ourselves on these days. At least it makes for good portrait subjects!


Like this one! from the comic strip filter on Face Time, and captured during a conversation when my subject discovered how much fun it was to mug in selfie mode!


Probably better if I end this post with the pensive face of a young man, perhaps trying to figure out, like the rest of us, where this crazy planet is headed.

Beatles Zoomalong Every Saturday

Need a SIP something to do tomorrow night? My friend David Klotz (alias Moon Puppy) has been leading Beatles singalongs for a long time here in Sebastopol and now is offering them in a zoom room every Saturday night. I tuned in last Saturday and found two of my other friends there, so it did feel like a party. The singing (and lo and behold the sketching) were great.


David did the lead singing and guitar and keyboard accompaniment while the participants sang with gusto (though muted so that the music maintained its integrity) and used the chat room to request their favorite songs. David knows them all!

I think there were folks participating from out of the area. If you’re a Beatles lover who lives far away from Sebastopol, California you can still join in, proving yet another way this pandemic has made us into the one world we always were. Ask David if you can join.


My pen was scribbling madly as I sang along. Because the visibility on a zoom session with lots of people in the gallery is sketchy, I enjoyed just getting whatever I could down. So if you see your face here, please forgive the artist for taking liberties. Artists are always doing that, and it’s usually fine (as long as it’s with someone else’s image)!

Last of the 30 Faces

Every day of last month, on the 30faces30days Sktchy app was a new challenge for the portrait artist.  I learned so much in the struggle. The month (of April) is over, but I haven’t stopped drawing faces.  Here are the last of the month.day22

The prompt here was to play with color and value, and the subject was posed with strong, colorful lighting. So this was a good opportunity to practice juxtaposing warm and cool colors. I thought my application was pretty clunky, but was surprised by the level of believability achieved even so.


Oh this one was so much fun. His eyes were fabulous. And I got out my Chinese Orange gouache for the red. I should play with gouache more often. It’s opacity is a great counterpoint for watercolor as long as it’s allowed it own forceful presence. The paper in all of these portraits is Stillman + Birn’s gray toned paper, in a 9 X 12″ spiral bound sketchbook.


I’m still stumped by this one. Even taking great care with measuring to try to get the drawing “right”, I managed to lose the subject’s Asian-ness. Maybe I should start over and try again?


I stopped and photographed this one before I finished, knowing that there was no way I could pull it off.  I mean look at that face! classical gorgeous. And in the picture it dissolved into black. Very difficult to pull off, even with oil paint. And probably a bit impossible with watercolor unless you have artist quality w/c paper. But I kind of like the not-quite-finished version. After all it’s the eyes one is drawn to, and they are enough. . .and the mouth.


You guessed it. This one was about foreshortening. I’m not sure what this guy was doing up in a tree, but it made for a fun sketching exercise!


If you’re counting, which I’m sure you’re not, you’ll realize that I skipped a day or two. Not because I didn’t do the portrait, but because the result was so awful that I couldn’t bring myself to post it here (although I learned something from every one!)

This is day 30 and I am happy with the result, even though I really messed up. You know how important it is to counteract the mind’s tendency to get the proportions wrong, by measuring EVERYTHING in your drawing? That’s the main thing I’ve learned from this second month of every day portrait sketching (the first was January). You have to measure distances, like the distance from the bottom of the eye to the top of the head, but also draw vertical and horizontal lines to know how the features really line up!

So this drawing is basically wrong. And it’s at least the second time the same thing happened this month with a 3/4 pose. Her left eye is in the wrong place. But I didn’t catch it til it was too late.

So this happens a lot. If it’s not the left eye in the wrong place, it’s the mouth or the ear or the slant of the nose. You have to literally check everything before you declare it finished. Or you learn to appreciate your own creative wonkiness, which can be enjoyed by all without the need for perfection, because. . .

Perfection has one grave defect: it is apt to be dull. -William Somerset Maugham 

And that was the end of the month-long Faces adventure! If you’ve been working on portraits, I’d love to know what you’ve learned.