Female head profile and ear study


Last semester I took Head Drawing with William Maughan, a challenging, but rewarding course.   It was a privilege to learn from someone so talented and accomplished. We used his book, which I found to be a wonderful resource and I know I’ll be referring to it in future practice.

The drawing below was done as part of a unit on ears so I’ve included my ear practice drawings above. These are done primarily with a red/brown pastel pencil (stabilo carbothello) on toned paper. I used a titanium white pastel pencil for the highlights.



Red apple with red pot

Red apple with pot

Some practice using reds (terra rosa, cadmium, alizarin) with a full palette. First semester I painted the apple and pot together, but at the time it was a monochrome painting using only terra rosa, ivory black and titanium white. So I wanted to try it again with a full palette this time. I haven’t used ivory black in a long time. Something close to black is created by mixing ultramarine and brown madder (usually I use burnt umber), basically a dark blue and a dark brown.

I usually use bristle brushes in varying sizes as well as softer brushes for blending. This time I used some new brushes I grabbed at the store, nylon brights. In general I like the squarer shape of brights and the strokes they make on the canvas, but as expected these nylon brushes create much smoother, less expressive strokes. So I have mixed feelings about the result.

Friday Favorite

Dance of Eternal Love by Toshi Yoshida

There are so many beautiful paintings and photographs of cranes, but I like this painting in particular because it captures the aptly named dance of eternal love so well.  It reminds me of Van Gogh who was influenced by Japanese art, even though it was painted in 1970, eight decades after Van Gogh’s passing.

Most people close to us know that Jeff and I have a soft spot for cranes, even after folding 1,000 origami ones for our wedding. As symbols of loyalty, honor and longevity we thought they would be the perfect symbol for our marriage and had a pair carved onto our rings. If you haven’t seen them dance it’s worth watching the video below. They actually bow to each other beforehand. Their dance is full of beauty, grace, and tension reminding me of a tango. Though cranes are an idealized symbol for our partnership, I think in reality we behave more like plump little lovebirds, pecking at each other as we bicker and then hugging as we makeup.

How about you? What creature or symbol represents your ideal(s)?


Technically it’s Saturday here in Guangzhou, but it’s still Friday in America. We had people over I stayed up later than I expected playing board games (definitely worth it). Friday Favorite posts are where I share paintings and drawings I like. To see more Friday Favorites, click here.

Rainbow bunny with yellow cup

Rainbow bunny with yellow cup

I’m glad I decided to go for four a week instead of five. This gives me some breathing room since these take me awhile to do.

For some added inspiration here is Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest talk on TED. There are so many quotable quotes that I ended up printing the transcript and putting it up on my wall.

4 Vases

4 vases

It was a challenging semester and I was out of my comfort zone for most of it which is good (though it didn’t always feel that way) because I was pushed harder than I would have pushed myself and I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made and how much I’ve learned about portrait and figure drawing. I’ll be posting some of my work from the semester soon once I get organized and make some last minute adjustments.

Since I want to be a daily painter (realistically for me that means painting on weekdays about 4-5 small paintings a week), I’m going to use the break for practice and aim for about 3-4 small paintings of simple subjects/week. This should give me time to continue figure and portrait drawing practice and a chance to work on other projects.

Unfortunately I’m a little slow out the gate so this one took me a bit longer than a day to finish, but here’s the first one.

A wise old Greek philosopher once said, “We are what we repeatedly practice.” So with that in mind, it’s back to the easel with me.

Friday Favorite Temporary Hiatus

I’m taking a break from Friday Favorites for another week or so until the semester over. Posts will resume shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear which artists and paintings are among your favorites.


Friday Favorite posts are where I share paintings and drawings I like. To see more Friday Favorites, click here.