Black Labrador Portrait

My goal this year is to do more portraits in graphite. After spending three years on Sadie Valeri online drawing/painting program, I finally finished up this year.  I wanted to apply the techniques and concepts that I had learned to this drawing.

This portrait of Tara, a black lab, took about six hours to do. I’ve worked from a photo that a client had provided (though I had used a different photo to complete a commission for this client).

In the photo there is lighting coming from the right side but reflective light all around. So there is a slight change from dark to light. Here I did a lot of squinting to simplify the dark and light shapes. Those shapes I identified as planes. So I worked on the concept of the value sphere – establishing the core shadow, getting lighter as the shape come to the light.

What I would like to do is to learn about animals head anatomy. It would help to understand the planes more.

Profile of Tara 2019
Tara 2019, graphite, 11 x 14

Portrait Drawings Commissions

I had been busy with portrait drawings commissions lately. Most of the commissions came from the St. James Holiday Bazaar Annual Sales. Exposure is good!

These portraits were done with graphite and white charcoal on Strathmore Grey Toned Paper. They are sized 10 x 8 inches. Several photos were provided by the client with specific ones to based the drawings from.

Interested in getting a portrait like this done? Email me at

A Couple at Patris Open Studio

Two models, a couple. But I didn’t draw them as a couple. Just not there yet. With the male model I spend 2 1/2 hours, time to develop the values. It was his first time modeling and unfortunately his back was not allowing him to sit very long. So I concentrated around the eyes and developed that area first and then slowly went to the nose and mouth area.

Mike at Patris 12x15 06062016
Mike, graphite and white charcoal

With the woman I spend less time, maybe about 45 minutes. I went straight to establishing the light and shadow patterns first, not so much block in, and then developed the eye and more or less the other feature.

Amy at Patris 12x15 06062016
Amy, graphite and white charcoal

With time constraints, I’m learning to concentrate only what is most important.


Open studio at Patris Gallery/Studio. Three-hour pose. Here I am practicing what I’m learning at Vitruvian Studio online course on Portrait Drawing. Using a range of pencils from 2H to 8B, with white charcoal, I strived to achieve a variation of tone.
Tori at Patris 053016.jpg

Portraits from Life

Attended two live modeling sessions last week. Not so easy drawing from life. My drawings tend to be tighter than drawing from photos. Both models were clothed with Eva dressed in a flamingo dress.

More Pencil Portraits

Still marching onward with the pencil portraits on toned paper. I just finished the 5 x 8 Strathmore Toned Gray pad and moving on to the 9 x 12 pad. Both drawings are based on images I found in Pinterest. In the first image I’m thinking now more about composition, instead of just drawing the face. (by the way the date is wrong. It’s not 1/21/16 but 2/21/16)


Below are the materials I normally used for the drawings, mainly mechanical pencils: Graphlet 0.9 mm HB & 2B by Pentel, Turquoise by Primascolor with a thicker lead (I had this over 30 years ago) and General’s Charcoal White. I also use a 6B pencil when I need very darks. Otherwise I build up values with crosshatching.


Day 30 – 30/30 Challenge

My final drawing is a self portrait. I don’t take very good selfies but this drawing came out better than expected.

The challenge has definitely improved my use of graphite and white charcoal on toned paper. I might dedicate a month or 24 days in this case to work on a particular skills. In any case consistent practice = improvement.

I’ll leave the Challenge with this link – Learning to See. It’s one person experience as he works to improve his drawing and painting skills dramatically.

I also want to thank everyone who had followed and like my posts during this Challenge. I had made new “friends” and discovered some fabulous artists!

Self Portrait_pencil_5.5x8.5