Copying for practice, posting for storage

I have a free blog for my university course and it’s rapidly running out of space with a whole final project to go! My solution is to post some of the copied images here and link to them. Clever, huh? These are from Juliette Aristides’ Figure Drawing Atelier.




All the commentary for these copies are on my drawing blog



and here




The art of copying

This is a work-through of a book on drawing by Juliette Aristides. Copying is a quite a challenge for me, mostly because I’ve never done it, but also because I’m left handed and it didn’t take long to discover that the gestural strokes of right handed artists go completely the opposite way to mine. Every little flick or sweep that comes naturally to one of us is almost impossible to replicate by the other. Still, I’ve triumphed (more or less) over tin-openers so here goes …

All the master images are copyright and so I’m unable to include much, if any, of the original. I used this one [‘Nothing gold Can Stay’ by Julio Reyes, 2016] to get a feel for the partial profile which is one of my nightmares. I used an HB pencil to make the marks and ended up with a couple of attempts (the bottom two) that seem passable.



These are open line drawings to shade with a view to studying the actual rather than the imagined shapes of hands and fingers.


This too is an exercise in shading. The original from which the outlinse come is ‘Man/s Arm Bent’ by Charles Bargue (1866).


The master image here is just called ‘Sketchbook’ and it’s by Adolf von Menzel (1863). It shows a woman reading to a child and is entirely in line, no shading at all.


I labelled this ‘podgy kid with a goat’ but it turns out to be ‘Studies for the Christ Child with a Lamb’ by Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-06. Luckily he will never know. What’s interesting about this is that the orientation suited me, as did the marks, and I realised that da Vinci is reputed to have been at least ambidextrous if not actually left handed.


One of my favourites from whole book. I have cats, and¬† know cats; I’m familiar with the shapes they make and this one could very easily be ‘cat in a fruit bowl’ or ‘strange fruit’. In fact it’s an untitled piece by Anna Egrova, 2013 who used graphite which I’ve only just discovered. I had none at the time and used a 7b pencil plus some judicious putty rubbing.


Another untitled Egrova from 2013, also in graphite while mine is pencil again. I was pleased with the angle of the head and the partial profile, both of which I struggle with.


This still life (by Ovidio Cartagena – Still Life with Lemon 2017) foxed me somewhat. The instructions were to make guide lines around the perimeters of the various elements but in doing that, I lost the sense of the whole. Also I couldn’t identify two of the elements (the packet shape and the ticket shape beneath) but that’s not a bad thing as another instruction is to draw what you see, not what you think you see.


The pineapple was much easier as the master image is a botanical drawing by James Marion Shull (1919) called, unsurprisingly, Pineapple. You will have to trust me that the face I couldn’t help seeing in it once I had finished, is also there in the original!


This is one of the exercises in value (tone). The original is ‘Still Life Demonstration’ by Paul Rosiak (2017). I realised afterwards that I had moved away a little from making value using fine lines and I believe now that this is because it’s hard if not impossible to replicate drawings made with graphite when using pencil strokes. I feel quite happy with this despite having produced what appears to be a half eaten instead of a whole apple.


Much the same applies here – rendering a copy of a graphite drawing using pencil and, to my mind, making this more my own in the process. The original is ‘Study of a Teapot’ 2017, again by Rosiak.


I think we’ve all done these at some stage or another – created volume with shading and tone. Damien Leeds’s ‘Sphere’ 2019, is in charcoal and again I used a 7b pencil.


It was at this point that I took delivery of my first graphite powder. Like herding cats, this stuff gets everywhere and has to be contained. I used paper towel to rub it into the paper, putty rubber to remove (reductive drawing) layers for lighter tones, and charcoal where I wanted some definition. The original is ‘Apple Demonstration’, 2018, by Grace Flott.


Now I was in possession of graphite sticks and I’d watched some tutorial videos on how to use this substance. I have copied the general shape of the original (‘Pear Demonstration’ 2017, by Karen Poole) but there is more of my own style in it, I think.


And here we are at my betes noir – portraits. The original by Elizabeth Beard (2016) is called ‘Aubrey Final’ which suggests the model is male, while mine, in graphite plus Derwent eraser, seems more female. Best bit? That eye!


I’m very fond of this despite again seeming to have re-gendered the model. ‘Jamaal’ by Colleen Barry (2014) is a very self assured young man while my ‘copy’ is clearly a slightly worried-looking woman! Made in graphite, charcoal, white conte, and judicious application of putty and other erasers.


The ink drawing by Irvin Rodriquez – ‘Los Infantes II’, 2016 – could never be replicated in pencil/graphite, not by me anyway. My attempt with the media I have to hand and the paper in the book itself is the best I can manage. It was very difficult though and I have the head angle wrong on two planes – vertical and horizontal – so that my little boy is more upward facing and oriented to the left of the page than the original. He is also less obviously a chubby infant.


Finally for this book, the drawing that I find least successful of the lot and confirmation if that were needed that da Vinci is the Master, my ‘copy’ (it’s nothing like!) of his 1490 ‘Study of a Young Woman’. I have no idea why I found the angle of her head so difficult to replicate; why whatever I tried, her face flattened in the partial profile; how it was that the proportions measured out with a ruler somehow led to a misproportioned image; What happened to her gentle and quiet expression; and how on earth I managed to make her more Greek than Romanesque. I may try to resolve this issue by tracing the original in the book to ‘show’ my brain where all the parts are located.



All the originals can be found in Beginning Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides (2019) Monacelli Studio.

The next book on my list is Figure Drawing Atelier, also by Aristides. But first there’s the small matter of an Assignment to finish and submit, and the gathering together of paintings and other items for the Steyning Arts Christmas gig. 30th November, since you ask.


Puddle owls

Made by dropping puddles of water onto gesso-prepped canvas board, then dripping smaller puddles of ink into the water, then carefully dabbing and siphoning the excess from the puddles, adding some biro and some conte, and trying to keep the cat off it while I get a photo!


Probably that branch is going to break so let’s hope the big guys already fledged! Cards coming soon.

Outdoor landscape

img_2809I’ve been working up to my third assignment in the Drawing module of my OCA course and, after going a few rounds with townscapes and statues, may have found a home under a flyover again.

First there was this, albeit rather more painting than drawing although those seem now to be interchangeable, a scene I pass by quite often along the river bank.


Then these A4 sketches (the first of these three is the monochrome photo – mine – I used to map out the shapes)


And then, much larger A2 sized monochrome and full colour versions.


You can blame the psychedelia on an unexpectedly retrieved page full of Kandinsky images when googling something else.


The next step was to cover the drawing with tracing paper and pick out the detail without too much regard for the overall image.


Which gave rise to this and goodness me but glue makes this stuff crinkle.


Right now, it’s flat on its back* having the detail of its detail picked out in white ink with a view to, possibly, using black ink and some tiny tickles of colour in other spaces.



Now with Winsor and Newton black ink layered onto two panels. At the moment, I think I prefer the white ink only panels but we’ll see. I’ll do the additional work on the left panels to see if that pops them back up the ‘like’ scale. It needs to be upright again so I can get a good look.


14th May and I’ve detailed the left side panels but not the right and i’m leaving it there because I like the counterbalance of heavy black patches and immediacy of impact against the barely visible white on white-ish of the other panels. I could argue something about the impact of motorways and A roads – heavy duty beasts that keep us in line when we’re on them, inflict themselves on people when they’re built at the bottom of their garden, but that only the graffiti artists inhabit in those lower reaches. I won’t though because that’s only just occurred to me! The abstractions come from the original drawings during which the move towards rendering the foliage as quasi-graffiti forms led to a focus on the shapes making up the whole rather than the whole itself.

img_2819 Might have been clever to get my signature in line. Also Рhow do you iron cartridge paper?


*Easel that allows horizontal plane is a Loxley Essex from Ken Bromley

Drawing – some exercises


This is about perspective (angular) which, left to its own devices, seems to materialise without too much need for explicit attention. Unfortunately, these exercises require actual focus on actual lines which really throws me. My solution was to use photos to stabilise the scene (anyone else find those intuitive lines behave like a ball of string after a kitten’s been at it once you try to pin them down?), then mark out the lines in charcoal to get the feel of them. I did that with two versions of my photo of Brighton prom (aka vanishing railings), one monochrome, the other in colour, and rather liked how the lines asserted themselves across the image boundaries. Hence, there are two separate but overlapping drawings here, one skeletal and barely present, the other filled and rounded and with a tiny touch of Brighton colour on the rail.

Drawing is one of the two Level 1 courses I’m doing with OCA.