Graphite Portrait Drawing – Little Girl

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Graphite Portrait Drawing – Little Girl

I’m back from Sierra Madre Artwalk, where crowds were friendly, art was collected, and it was mostly lovely weather (it started to rain after I loaded my gear into the car to leave last night).

This guy – a coastal fence lizard – spent the weekend with me in Sierra Madre, skulking around the top edge of my display panels, showing off his cool blue throat. Each morning as I opened up, there he was, scampering the display panels, hanging out above the art. I named him Cobalt.

Drawing on Drafting Film

I’ve used matte finish drafting film (also known as mylar) to print drypoints and monotypes, but I also enjoy using it for drawing. Have you ever tried a similar approach to dark field monotypes with drawing on drafting film?

Block in your drawing with solid shapes in pencil or powdered graphite, and then wipe the entire surface gently, which softens the edges of your shapes, and at the same time, tones the entire sheet of mylar.

To wipe the drawing, use a small square of soft artist chamois, paper towel or tissue. With that new veil of graphite on the surface, you can then add more details with your graphite, wipe again, and then erase a little light into your image here and there. Wipe more, and continue adding darks, pulling out lights with the eraser, and wiping with a lighter and lighter touch as you get closer to the details you want to preserve. Draw, wipe, erase. Draw, wipe, erase.

While blocking in an image on mylar, expect an ugly-baby phase. Each draw, wipe and erase step will refine the image and correct shapes, placement and distances. Deep breaths. Keep going.
Scumbling graphite on a tiny scrap of mylar before buffing the entire surface with a paper towel again.

Draw, Wipe, Erase

At this point – above – I’ve blocked the portrait in with graphite. (Have I told you about my favorite mechanical pencil? The Uni Kuru Toga 0.5 – with each advance of the lead, it gets rotated, which reduces sharp-angle chips and breakage from the graphite)

After shading broad shapes, I’ve erased a little here and there, and then wiped down the entire surface again, and continued that pattern over and over. Good thing mylar is tough…. I did a whole lot of wiping, drawing, erasing and re-drawing on this before I got the little portrait at the top of this post. Jeesh.

Artists visiting artists at the Sierra Madre Art Fair – Susan Tredway, Laura Wambsgans and Marty Krainin. Good peeps all the way around!
Patrons brought flowers from their gardens to decorate my booth.

Let’s Start the Week With Art

  • A few years ago, I attended a presentation by Nathan Fowkes about his best advice to artists for making more art, more often, and better than before. It was very, very good. An artist of his caliber who is so articulate and thoughtful about the creative process is a joy, and a fountain of inspiration. He was interviewed on the Savvy Painter podcast, and the topics range from artist-to-artist advice, getting into the Flow, measuring the quality of artwork, etc. Give it a listen here.
  • If you want to see the sketch, wipe, erase cycle by someone who does it masterfully, look at this sped-up video of David Kassan drawing a portrait from life. The dude can draw.
  • The folks over at The Abundant Artist posted their picks for the five best online watercolor classes, with descriptions and pricing. Be sure to read the suggestions at the bottom (extras) and the comments. Check that out here.
  • Do you visit the site My Modern Met? They reviewed their thirteen favorite choices for watercolor pan sets, including many that will work for traveling, or packing light to go painting outside in your own environments. See what they like here.
  • James Gurney painted lilacs on site at the new York Botanical gardens, and you can listen and watch on his YouTube channel (6 minutes). Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers, but painting them can be a challenge to trust that shape will tell the type of flower you’re looking at. You don’t have to paint every petal of every little flower in the cluster. Watch James demo that here.
  • For all y’all that emailed or commented or pondered about the Marketing Impact Academy course I took and loved a few years ago, they opened enrollment today! There’s a ton of info up now. Check it out here before it sells out.
Nathan Fowkes instagram feed always has good ideas for art and art-making. Follow him.

Make Your Week Work for You

I’m almost finished unloading my gear, and making lists of follow up tasks. There are new patrons, art to deliver, and new contacts from the art festivals. There’s much to do after a show, and it’s best to get moving on it while everything is fresh. And resting in between tasks is important too. All that hauling gear and being “on” in public for two days wears your batteries down. Here’s hope that you have a productive week, with art and creativity planted in the spaces between life lists.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post –


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P.P.S. This adorable pin qualifies as cool lapel bling for artists.

Seven 4.3 x 3.5 Graphite Drawing on Drafting Film (sold)

Art Quote

Looking back at this long search for the right paper – the right technique of painting in watercolor – I must admit that I’m troubled by this preoccupation with technique. After all, the real issue in painting is not only how you handle the medium, but what kind of pictures you paint. The method must be wedded to the conception. But I also know that the search for the right technique is part of the bigger search for a personal language. And this is all part of the process of growing as an artist.

Burton Silverman
Click a crayon to visit this online course, and get your art titling mojo fired up

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4 thoughts on “Graphite Portrait Drawing – Little Girl”

  1. Amanda Stewart

    Thank you Belinda for all your wonderful inspiration and teaching. I don’t look at emails much but I always devour yours. I’m not putting enough into action though – the usual – I am intending to!

    1. Hello Amanda, Thanks for leaving a note and letting me know you’re finding good things in these missives. I’m sending you good wishes over the airwaves for inspired motivation, and regular art practice with a group of friends. Sometimes we just need a tribe of like-minded artists to help us become accountable to our deepest wishes, and assist with getting into a regular groove. Don’t give up!

  2. It was great seeing you last weekend, love the photo of Susan, Laura and me. I just hung your gorgeous colorful watercolor flowers in my kitchen to brighten up my favorite workplace.

    1. Hi Marty! It was so kind of you to make the drive to say hello! I hope your new floral puts a little joyful color in your already amazing culinary adventures! Have a splendid week! XOXO

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