Tag Archives: Renaissance drawing

One From The Archives 6: Straight Ahead

14 Sep

Straight Ahead

I like to work with a range of models and this middle aged woman is one of my favourites. She exudes confidence and is so comfortable in her own skin.

I draw from life weekly at Swansea Print Workshop, working with professional artists and models. This underpins my artistic practice and inspires me to develop the images into other genres – printmaking, mixed media, painting and intuitive drawing. Models do it for all sorts of reasons, but they all have one thing in common, they love art and engage with art by inspiring artists.

A big part of life drawing is simply the opportunity to practice technique. This can be the technique of drawing itself, where  the actual pose of the model is important. Things like foreshortening can be tricky, as can hands and feet. In fact, the expression “It costs an arm and a leg” comes from centuries ago when rich people commissioned artists to paint their portrait. There was a basic rate just for a head and shoulders portrait. An arm was extra. A leg cost even more. I talked about this in an earlier blog which you can see here.

Then there are the techniques to do with rendering surfaces and textures like skin fabric and flat areas. These will change according to what medium you are using.  Here I was using Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens and ink washes onto mounting (matte) board highlighted with white conte crayon.

Straight Ahead detail for WordPress


Because I like to draw the  room as well as the model I get plenty of scope to practice these techniques.  In this detail, you can see how the washes allow me to render the fabric and the skin in a very free way. The pen work lets me give the figure a sense of weight, using thicker lines and also to convey distance by sketching in background objects more faintly.

If you want to find out more technical details about the drawing materials and papers I use please click here to go through to the technical section on my website. The drawing “Straight Ahead” is available for sale on Artfinder and if you’d like to find out more, please click on the link here to go directly to it or click on the link on the right hand side of this blog to see other works for sale.


After da Vinci, with a cat

19 Feb


Another of my practice pieces copying Renaissance drawings. This time a little sketch by da Vinci of a small child playing with a cat. The original is very rough and sketchy, very lively. I guess it had to be that way because a cat and small child are not going to stay still for more than a couple of seconds. In fact, the kitteh looks like it can’t wait to get away. He did quite a lot of these sketches; I wonder if the child escaped without scratches? It’s tempting when copying another artist to tidy up the drawing, to ‘complete’ it but I tried to remain as true to the original as possible, given that I’m using 21st century instead of 15th century materials.

Drawn onto my Samsung Galaxy Tablet using a free Markers app. The reference book is ‘Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings by Hugo Chapman and Marzia Faietti published by The British Museum.

After Filippo Lippi

18 Feb


Another quick digital sketch based on a drawing by fifteenth century artist, Fra Filippo Lippi. I did this on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet using a free Markers app. The drawing is in a British Museum book, ‘Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings’ by Hugo Chapman and Marzia Faietti. I think it’s good to get some academic practice from experienced artists.

Raphael’s Quickie

12 Feb


I’m continuing to practice from my book of Renaissance drawings using my Samsung Galaxy tablet. This is after a sketch by Raphael. The original was obviously done quickly and it’s very free. I haven’t tried to copy it exactly, line for line, because that would make it rather stiff. I started off by installing a mottled background because paper in Renaissance times tended to be a bit rough and pure white paper would be rare and expensive. The baby is very stylised and typical of the period. I think that these days, he’d probably be considered a bit too chubby.


After Piero di Cosimo

10 Feb


It’s day 10 of the Facebook February daily drawing challenge and I’m posting this. I’ve just drawn it on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet using the free Markers app. I started out by laying down a background colour – if you don’t it goes weird when you save it and does a funny sort of negative thing. Then I added splodges and spots of texture with the translucent tool in greys and white. The background texturing is similar to the abstract patterns in many examples of European Paleolithic cave art.

The drawing is a study made after Piero di Cosimo from my book of Renaissance drawing. I’ve been wanting to do a bit of academic practice lately and the drawing challenge is a good way of spending a few minutes a day studying some of the greats. I’ve enjoyed drawing this fragment of landscape. I’m not a big fan of landscape drawing but this is giving me a handle on it. So thanks, Piero.

Looking At Leonardo

9 Feb

09 da vinci

It’s been a busy weekend with our two 9 year old nephews staying over and a lengthy business meeting ths afternoon. Yes it’s a Sunday but I’m freelance so I don’t work regular hours. But I try to do a drawing a day for practice and discipline and I’ve been dipping into my Renaissance drawing book by Hugo Chapman and Marzia Faietti. I spent a few minutes with my Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen, size F and my A5 clothbound sketchbook working from this da Vinci sketch.

It’s interesting to draw from another artist because you can appreciate their technique. While I was sketching this, I realised how sparse the linework is; how much is filled in by the viewer. I also realised, although I’d looked at the original many times, that he drew the head slightly too large. I don’t know if that was deliberate or perhaps the model was like that. Apparently, film stars with slightly larger heads look better on the big screen than those with ‘normal’ heads.

Day 8: Fast Face

9 Feb


Been busy all day having fun with 2 little nephews having a sleepover so just managed a very quick digital sketch of a face from my Renaissance Drawing book by Hugo Chapman. Did it in about 4 minutes on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet with a free Marker app. You have to lay down a background before doing the drawing otherwise it saves as a negative, which is a pain in the neck. Took me quite a while to work out what the problem was. Spent a big part of today cooking because it is SHOCKING how much two nine-year old boys can eat!

Day 4: After Raphael

4 Feb


It’s day 4 of the Facebook February drawing challenge and I haven’t been out at all today. The weather’s been awful and I’ve been doing loads of things on computers, so not much of a chance to draw. Husb bought me a lovely book about Raphael for Xmas and as I like to study other artists for practice, I chose this drawing to work from. I used my Samsung Galaxy Tablet with a free Magic Marker app. I like the idea of using 21st century technology to study 16th century Renaissance art. Took about 10 minutes. I think I’d rather work with a traditional dip pen and Indian ink though.

A Life Drawing Quartet

21 Jun

Midsummer’s Day and we have torrential rain! It’s humid and horrible but it was life drawing as usual this evening down at Swansea Print Workshop. I made an elderflower and lemon drizzle cake for tea break and set out to do something different with my drawings tonight. I did a short course in Renaissance style drawing a few weeks ago and I’ve done the first day of a phtotpolymer printmaking course this week. I’m hooked on the technique but the plates are quite expensive so I’ve decided to start working on A6. My usual full-colour monotypes are A1, so there’s a huge difference. I prepared some handmade paper [bought from the Tate Gallery – it’s gorgeous and wasn’t too expensive] with sepia wash, ripped it into A6 pieces and worked on them with a dip pen and Indian ink, brushes and washes and did the highlights with a fragment of white conte crayon. I did the four drawings in an hour and a half and I think I have enough to work with and adapt for a couple of little photopolymer plates next week. Watch this space………


Drawing With Silver

3 May

Portrait in silverpoint.

I’m very lucky to have been invited to study on an intensive two-day course in Renaissance drawing. Today was day 1 and I did some work in Silverpoint. I’d heard about it and admired reproductions but I’d never seen a Silverpoint tool before. The handle is a smooth barrel of wood like an etching needle but the point is a piece of silver wire, apparently 99% pure. It can be used flat or as a very sharp point, but you have to be accurate because it can’t be rubbed out. It seems that Renaissance artists didn’t use the technique for quick scribbling, it was for careful studies. The paper is coated with a special Silverpoint Medium; I don’t know what’s in the modern one, but back in the day it was supposedly ground bone in some sort of animal glue. Nothing wasted eh?

The drawing room was very full so I moved in close to the model. She wore a wig which had been elaborately plaited – daVinci was particularly fond of drawing plaits. I loved it. It helps that I normally draw directly in ink, without sketching in pencil first, so I had the confidence to get stuck in without worrying too much about accuracy. It’s a small drawing, about A5 onto prepared hand-made paper and took about 20 minutes.  I like the technique so much I might put a Silverpoint tool in my letter to Santa. 🙂

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