Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whassa Big Deal Anyways?...365 Days of Drawing

Time flies when you are engaged in what you are doing and that has been one of the real challenges of this daily drawing challenge, month NINE starting tomorrow, to stay involved and stimulated each day in the drawing effort.

One artist said to me about my challenge: "What's the big deal?, I draw every day anyway." Yes, but do you really? On top of the studio day. On top of the little thrills and spills of daily life thrown our way.

And then post it for the world to see. A bad drawing is going to sting.

MY daily effort remains uninterrupted so far. It hasn't been easy some days. Today's drawing I was very engaged in and hope to paint it today. I just have to get some troublesome hands and arms done to finish a commission and meet a deadline. Those little thrills and spills...

Monday, August 30, 2010

EAT, PRAY, HANDS...365 Days of Drawing

I finally got to see 'Eat Pray Love' yesterday and realized it was the first movie I had seen in a theatre since perhaps 'Julie and Julia' which started this darn unbroken challenge almost eight months ago.

I rushed home from the movies, not to chant calming things, but to draw hands. I spent my weekend's drawing challenge time doing two sittings with hands on this one page.

I felt I needed a refresher.

Don't forget. Post your thoughts on the challenge, for the next 24 hours, to win the painting below. I am picking my favorite comment to win the painting as a thank you for the support.

Sunday, August 29, 2010



As a thank you to my loyal blog visitors during this year's drawing challenge, I am giving away this oil painting, 5 x 7, to the most interesting post received during the next 48 hours. This thank you is also running on my Public Face Book Page, Master Portraits By Johanna Spinks.

Tell me what types of drawings/paintings you have enjoyed the most so far or anything else you feel like posting.

And thank you. I couldn't have got this far without you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

DANCE...365 Days of Drawing

Dance like no-one is watching? Nah...draw like no-one is watching. Today's effort that I finished with paint for the daily challenge.

IN THE PINK, Daily Painting
6 x 8, oil on canvas

Friday, August 27, 2010

REVIVAL...365 Days of Drawing.

Another day, revive another corset. The daily drawing challenge met. An unfortunate crop of the drawing as I made a mistake in my edit program and couldn't retrieve.

REVIVAL Daily Painting
6 x 6, oil on canvas, $100.00

Thursday, August 26, 2010

FEEL THE FEAR...365 Days of Drawing

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

One thing I have learned as a teacher is that when you take harder props in for the class and set up harder poses for students to paint, it is going to be a more demanding and difficult class to teach. Hard to even think of doing a demo too when quite a lot of 'hands-on' teaching is going to be required.

But a leap of faith in all directions has to be taken.

Teaching demo from my class yesterday at The California Art Institute. And my drawing for the day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ART SCHOOL COFFEE...365 Days of Drawing

"There are no rules, just tools;" says the wise Master draughtsman Glenn Vilppu.

In art and life I find this to be so true. BUT art school coffee sure helps. With its' thick creamy film.

The view from my teaching palette today at The California Art Institute before I began my sketch - and drawing for the day.

Come back tomorrow and see if that coffee helped.


CHANGE the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change.

Today's drawing with another nod to BIC pen and Zorn.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

GRATEFUL...365 Days of Drawing

Ever wondered what a blank page of a daily drawing challenge sketch book looks like at the end of a great day in the studio painting - crossing a milestone in a difficult commission?

Well, here it is...

Zorn-licious...365 Days of Drawing

Great skill sharpening exercise. I did another Zorn copy yesterday. This one was hard in the beginning. The lines were so light leaving little room for error around the face especially. One false move with that BIC pen and it was all over.

Monday, August 23, 2010


DAY 233
The handy ol' Bic Pen makes a comeback in my year's drawing challenge as does copying an etching from the great master Anders Zorn.

I learn so much from this man. My own 'copy' drawing could have been better. Drawing without a safety net is always a risk.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Undergarments...365 Days of Drawing

A birthday party for my studio group The Bell Arts Factory yesterday. Time was short. My drawing for the day was left without any 'clothes' on so you get to see the undergarments, so to speak, of my figure drawing. Structure is a good thing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

DAY 231...365 Days of Drawing.

Day 231 of drawing without a day broken so far but I really a hit a wall last night. Returning home from the studio, I just didn't feel like drawing one bit.

I was reminded that this really IS a challenge so I went into my office and counted up the days so far of drawing no matter what, and no cheating. I felt a real sense of accomplishment seeing the number and knew there was no quitting. Plus I got a VERY inspiring email this week about my challenge. I can' t share the source but the story of my challenge was used to inspire others to do something different.

I return to the theme of street dancers with today's post making yesterday' drawing number 231.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Girl Talk...365 Days of Drawing

One of the reasons I am drawing so many girls in corsets is because Facebook doesn't like nudity posted there where this daily drawing challenge is now being watched by about 800 people.

You can say a lot with a corset without saying too much and offending people over their morning coffee. And practice drawing the human form pretty well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Life Happens...365 Days of Drawing

This, for me, is when a character model 'life sketch' works, unlike my demo from my teaching class at The California Art Institute last week, an aforementioned dud. I really have no idea why some days it rolls off the brush better than others but for me that is the case no matter how disciplined I am around drawing challenges etc. Life happens...and there is no controlling art which is probably its' appeal.

This will be my drawing for the the daily challenge today. My only regret is I didn't have longer to paint her within the confines of my teaching class etc. This was probably one and a half hours, total.

I have learned not to touch the sketch when the model is no longer on the stand. Nine times out of ten, I will ruin whatever good might have been there. The freshness, etc. Even a dud is worth the time spent painting from the live model.

this one is a steal!
18 x 24, oil

18 x 24, oil

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homework... 365 Days of Drawing.

A compositional study I did yesterday for a new portrait commission to determine value pattern, composition, color and 'feel'- which luckily also met the daily drawing challenge.

A study always tells me what is going to give me trouble ahead. I spent quite a lot of time on this small study, believe it or not. Enough to know, I think I might prefer a standing pose. I also have a head study I did from life of the sitter. All valuable tools so one is not just relying on photo reference. I feel doing one's art homework before a commission starts is important.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not a day without line...356 Days of Drawing

Visitor from abroad staying with me for the weekend. Fun times, late nights, outings - and time away from the studio. The last thing one feels like doing is a drawing challenge amid all the festivities.

But I stuck to my plan. Just a half hour every day. Get that pencil to the sketch book paper doing something simple. These sketches are from the weekend, with a nod to some Master reference material.

Not a day without line in 2010. So far unbroken.

I had better keep that line unbroken.

I will be having a show of my year's challenge scheduled for April 2011, called Not A Day Without Line, 365 Days of Drawing 2010. Opening night is April Fool's day. How appropriate.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Drawing Board...365 Days of Drawing.

Back to the drawing board. Spent time on my drawing yesterday before I took this head to paint. Total 'in the zone time' of about three hours.
I am reminded how much I need my painting idols to refer back to when the going gets rough in my ART head and I need to regroup and FOCUS -the story I am trying to tell.

8 x 10, oil on canvas

Friday, August 13, 2010

100's of Hours..365 Days of Drawing

After yesterday's wipe-out dud, I really needed a good drawing. Spent time on this one last night. It takes me almost as long to decide on what I am going to draw daily, and feel inspired by, as the actual drawing itself.

You would not believe the hours I have spent this year so far looking through reference material, dawdling online, choosing models, deciding on what to draw for the day. Must be in the 100's of hours of research at this point, eight and a half months into this daily challenge and not a SINGLE day missed so far.

Who cares if there is a dud in there? ME!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A DUD...365 Days of Drawing

I did meet the challenge with this dud yesterday. It is heading straight for the 'wipe-out' department of my studio today to save the linen canvas, unless you want it for the price of canvas and paints?

You let me know...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

LOLLIPOP NECKING.....365 Days of Drawing...

Hot on the heels of that "earful" yesterday about learning to do ears well from my teaching workshop, I should also mention that "necking" is a good thing too. Not sure if "necking" in the US means the same as in the UK or other places in the world, but there is nothing better than the art of necking, UK version, and the good study of the neck in art terms, to avoid a lollipop stick neck with head attached. I see a lot of that around. And have done a few myself.

That's all I have to say. And hence, I post my drawing for the day...check out those muscle groups with an eternal thanks to George Bridgeman with my whacky twist.

EARFUL...365 Days of Drawing

The last thing I felt like doing yesterday was drawing for a daily challenge after a busy weekend teaching and drawing a ton.

Funny thing tho', I knew exactly what I was going to draw from the moment I woke up even tho' I got to my drawing VERY late at night. EARS.

One will always be judged by the weakest link in one's painting it seems to me and in portraiture it is often the ear, (followed closely by hands) that gets not just overlooked but darn right ignored. As if it doesn't matter. But that ear sure is close to that face one is so carefully painting. Not that hard to learn the anatomy of an ear. Why don't people do it? The ear 'handout' in class often finds its way to the 'lost and not found' department of learning.

Once the drawing shapes are down, an ear can be painted quite simply with no need for a medical text book rendering. Three values for the light and only two in the dark. Say more with less. Morgan Weistling,, taught me this. His simplification of ears are a great study. Actually anything by this uber-talented young master is a great study. Period.

I have been teaching for a while now on a very regular basis and this last weekend teaching my workshop with some great work going on in the room, but perhaps not on the ears, reminded me of this eerie ear neglect. So I decided to give myself an earful of my own teaching medicine and just remind myself of that ear.

Practice what you preach.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Anatomy of a demo...365 Days of Drawing

Thanks to Joan, a student in my workshop this weekend for being such a great sitter for me. Total time of demo, one and a half hours. Thanks to Terry too for extra pix. In fact, thanks to all who made this weekend so stimulating. It was a privilege.

Look for my next workshop "Oil Painting - A Valued Approach" early Spring.

Here are some unsolicited testimonials from this weekend put on FACEBOOK today. Thank you so much!!!

I had a lot of fun at the workshop. Johanna is a generous, articulate teacher who shares all of her painting "secrets". She explained her steps of procedure, and circulated frequently to make sure everyone had a chance to get all their questions answered. I learned a LOT! :) C.J.

What a great workshop. My head is swimming with information. I have a lot of homework to do before the next workshop. I am eager to see where this information takes me. Johanna is so very patient and full of knowledge and energy. If you are looking for motivation, inspiration and knowledge... her workshops will get you there! Thank you so very much Johanna. And BTW- I noticed you paint much more than one sketch per day! Simply amazing! N.E.

Excellent workshop. Your patience and knowledge are the marks of a great teacher. Look forward to taking another...L.P.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Value of Vermeer...365 Days of Drawing.

Busy first day of my teaching workshop "Oil Painting - A Valued Approach". As a warm up exercise, I had students copy Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Ear-ring, using just five values, with an image I had tweaked to produce that five value outcome, the whole exercise lasting about an hour and 15 minutes.

It was a rewarding exercise to make that five-value Vermeer statement ahead of time and then to see students nail those values so well, a sample of work shown here, before they tackled a real model in the afternoon. PLENTY of drawing going on today to meet my daily 2010 challenge but nothing I can post.

I also did a quick demo showing the value of using a mid-value dried toned ground to paint on rather than just plain white with a "borrow" from my teacher Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A., who has always demo'd this in every workshop I have attended over the last eight years. A priceless lesson that I have learned so much from each time. Vermeer of course also worked on a toned ground - a beige color like the cream in your coffee.

Ah... the value of values... And of course my old valued stand-by friends Mr K. and Vermeer...I have learned so much from both. Anyone who comes to my studio, sees my Vermeer books first and the camera obscura next that I tracked down to try and understand how Vermeer made his magic. Hmmmm...Mr. K's books are nestled right by Vermeers.

One of my favorite moments in one of Mr. K's winter workshops at The Art Students' League of New York was when he suddenly pointed to a beautiful picture on the wall I had spotted earlier of A Girl With A Pearl Ear-ring. He then proceeded to talk about how great Vermeer was and why. I never quite knew how Mr. K, a big bold brush painter in the school of Sargent, felt about the more quiet, controlled Vermeer and hadn't liked to ask. Now I knew it really was fine for me to have my little obsession with Vermeer. Relief.

Plus, my favorite art man talking about my other favorite art man...well, it really doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This little boy is very special. My daughter met him, and was holding him when the original photo was taken, at an Aids orphanage/school in Africa run by the Makobe Children's Foundation. He was one of three brothers there that had all been found abandoned after their parents died from AIDS. He stole her heart and she was sad to leave him especially when her time volunteering at the home came to an end.

This drawing caused me a bit of trouble. I didn't want to be exploitative of his sweet vulnerability in the shot. It took me two half-hour sittings to get it right over two days with a complete rub-out the first sitting, preferring to change the composition. I will paint it now. I have always wanted to paint some of the children my daughter took photos of there. The good thing about month eight of a drawing challenge is it makes you re-visit things looking for inspiration for drawings.

AS I was drawing this little boy, I was wondering what has happened to him. Three years have now passed since the photo was taken. His life will have changed probably very much.

AS for me, I get to teach people art this weekend at my workshop in Ventura. I have no complaints. How lucky am I?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spectacle...365 Days of Drawing.

Nothing like making a spectacle of yourself with a public drawing challenge! This a drawing from last week which I put paint on today. A super interesting face of a teen student from my workshop last week.

The other, is my fast class demo yesterday at The California Art Institute yesterday. A value study of the set-up, a woman slicing bread, largely geared toward a more high key mid-value painting.

The strength of a value pattern makes a painting, I think. This left me less than enthusiastic to take it to a larger painting. Hmmm...could it have been because the model wanted to faint half the time? It wasn't the easiest of classes.