Thursday, July 19, 2012

I have been drawing too, you know

And the good news is that they look like human beings. The first one is supposed to be Audrey Hepburn. There's this pretty famous photo of her that I like a lot, which gave me the idea to try some charcoal practice. In this one I sketched her head and face, realized her nose was too big (although according to initial measurements it was right), fixed her up some more, and started shading using one of my recently purchased "Willow Charcoal" sticks. In retrospect the nose is still too big, and the head should be shorter overall. I do like the shading for the most part. The blacks are way more black than I've been able to get with the 8B pencil, so I think once I'm combining charcoal, conté, pencils and I can make some cool stuff.

The next one is supposed to be Monica Bellucci, one of my adolescent crushes. Someone shrank her mouth. I don't know - must've been aliens or something.

She's very good in Maléna, and here's the trailer.

In other news I picked up the Danish version of Draw Like Da Vinci. It's not as in-depth as I'd like, but I'm sure I'll learn something.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A free education in art history, part 4 - The Medici

The Medici were a group of bankers in Italy who played a very important role in funding some of the greatest Renaissance art. They're kind of important, and what do you know - there's a documentary about them.

It runs slightly under an hour. I feel slightly smarter having watched it.

Also, two important milestones for this site were reached recently. Firstly it has passed 1000 page views, which I'd say has to be the record for any drawing blogs created by Norwegians named Andreas in 2012.

Secondly it had its first visitor who came here from a google query. The person was looking for Jessica Alba's cousin, and probably not my drawing, which I find kind of funny.

But I hear you ask, but what about drawing updates? Well I've finished up Art Academy - Beginning To Draw, which was the very first video I started watching back in June. It made me realize that I need conté sticks too. I've also drawn Monica Belluci. The deal, if I can remember it correctly, was that she was supposed to visit me, but instead I've had to settle for a photo. Next up is Audrey Hepburn. She didn't reply to my messages, so yet again I'm going the .jpg route.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A free education in art history, part 3 - Raphael

Nope, not this guy.

But instead, this guy.

Sure he didn't rescue the world or whatever on a routine basis, but he did make some awesome art.

If you've got about 45 minutes to spare then you could do far worse than checking out this documentary.

If you're want more then here's one that runs for two hours. Are you up for it?

Also, as a bonus, here's an interesting round-table discussion on techniques for learning art.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Climbing the mountain #3 (NSFW)

I'm going to spare you of photos of weird looking contours and gestures today. I also found a better site for gestures, which helps. Today I used that, along with TV shows. I found the latter a fun challenge because obviously the gestures are changing all the time, so I have to keep the mental image while I'm drawing.

After finishing the workout I drew another naked girl. This is probably not safe for work, depending on where you work.

One difference that I noticed drawing this girl was that I'm starting to incorporate the mindsets when drawing gestures and blind contours. I don't measure angles quite as carefully anymore, and I'm using blind contour drawing here and there to good effect. Also, I'm screwing up less and getting stuff done faster.

TNWTD statistics so far:
Total time from start to finish: 375 hours / 15 days and 15 hours
Time spent drawing: 9 hours

Contour drawings: 22
Gesture drawings: 135
Percentage: 2.4%
Times considered quitting: 0

Climbing the mountain #2

I haven't yet decided how I'm going to structure these updates, because the bulk of them won't be very exciting, pretty, or probably even educational. Contour and gesture drawings are good things for an artist to practice, but it's not something I plan on showing off to my guests. Still though, there's a possibility that some of you readers are considering following the same course, and are curious in the development of the "scribbles". Because of that I think I'll include some that are representative of the progress, and focus on the supplementary things that I draw.

Today was the first day of gestures, and I did 70 using posemaniac's 30 second pose page. The author wants the student to use a nude model as often as possible. Unfortunately that's very difficult to come by, so I will be using a mixture of that page, drawing people on TV, people outside, and so on.

Looking at other people's progress in doing this book it seems like the very quick gesture drawings don't change all that much, but the ones where they have more time do change quite a bit. It's a lot about trying to feel the pose, and to translate that with regards to energy, weight balance, and so on.

Without further ado, here's something to look at.

TNWTD statistics so far:
Total time from start to finish: 375 hours / 15 days and 15 hours
Time spent drawing: 6 hours

Contour drawings: 18
Gesture drawings: 70

Percentage: 1.6%
Times considered quitting: 0

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A free education in art history, part 2 - Albrecht Dürer

While roaming around art related sites looking for fun Renaissance stuff I stumbled across a German named Albrecht Dürer. Apparently he was an essential guy to check out, and when reading my huge book on drawing masters the selection of his stuff stands out in many ways. The amount of detail is ridiculous. I didn't know anything about him, except that I liked his style.

I don't like being clueless about things, or people that I like, so it's time for part 2 of the education in art history.

There are a few documentaries about him on Youtube. I like this one.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kimon Nicolaïdes built a mountain

The mountain is called The Natural Way to Draw, and I'm at its base. The book has daily workloads of about three hours, including small breaks.

As you can see day 1 has a lot of blind contour drawing. The first time I tried this, in "Drawing on the right side of the brain" I found it very hard, not very useful, and definitely annoying. This time I'm doing it slightly differently. I start by drawing as much of the contour as I can in one go, look at the drawing, move the pencil to the next starting point, look away, and draw some more. This way I can judge smaller sections of work, and it looks less terrible than the first time. What more or less sold me on the idea this time was a section that you can read about here. Seeing that you can make such a statue without actually looking impressed me a lot. This time I was focusing a lot more, trying to "feel" the subject as I went along the contour.

(also did some basic line and circle practice)

Yesterday I linked a discussion thread of a guy who went on the same journey as me. He was following the book very closely, and got a lot of "are you sure this is wise?"-questions along the way. Often they would encourage him to diversify a bit and try other approaches as well. This is basically what I will be doing. What I like about TNWTD is having a schedule to follow, as well as the large amount of work along the way. The thing is though, there are other ways of drawing figures too, such as following Figure Drawing by Andrew Loomis - probably the most recommended book on the subject at Additionally there's the matter of anatomy and detail in general. I don't intend on going a year without working on those areas too, so as of now the idea is to follow my drawing workout as provided by the book, and supplement that with other fun stuff.

(made it to cartoon character #21 of 101)

TNWTD statistics so far:
Total time from start to finish: 375 hours / 15 days and 15 hours
Time drawn: 3 hours

Contour drawings: 18
Gesture drawings: 0

Percentage: 0.8%
Times considered quitting: 0

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Joining, and more future plans is a forum for artists of many genres. Its users are older, and in general far more skilled than on sites like deviantart. A friend of mine recommended that I should sign up if I was serious about this whole drawing thing, so I did. I've got a sketchbook going, which is a lot like this blog, only without these kinds of posts.

So far I'm getting used to the many sections. I like Sketchbooks, Fine Arts, and Lounge. While browsing I stumbled across a guy who went through "The Natural Way To Draw". Basically it's a course on figure drawing, where you draw for up to three hours a day, five days a week, for about a year. That's a lot of hours. In fact, it's 375 hours. If you follow the thread you'll see that you'll be doing thousands of quick gesture drawings, drawing from memory, plenty of blind contour drawings, and plenty of other stuff. The intention is to be able to put life and energy into what you draw, which is obviously critical.

As you may have read, one of my main long-term goals is to draw people. While I've made a great amount of progress so far I know there are many fundamental skills that I need to spend a lot of time on. The question is what the best path is. TNWTD is a course where you spend insane amounts of time doing scribbles and things that seem pointless. It seems very much like a Karate Kid-approach. Once done it all makes sense, but the fact remains that 375 hours could be spent on many things. Thanks to I've got a bunch more books to check out, all of which are highly regarded, and have made successful artists on their own.

When learning music in a similarly serious fashion you're spending similar amounts of time on scales, arpeggios, chords, sight reading, ear training, etc. Practicing these things aren't necessarily fun either, and while you could spend the same amount of time playing by ear there's a huge difference afterwards. It's about getting it internalized - being able to just do without thinking.

For now I'll work my way through some more of the drawings done by the great masters, get some more hatching / cross hatching practice, draw more from life, and try to finish off the other books I got from the library. The day needs more than 24 hours.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mr Nose

Today I've been pretty productive, so I got another one done. I call this one Mr Nose. It was originally done by Leonardo Da Vinci sometime between 1484 and 1486.

I went with this one because it has reasonably complex shading. It took a pretty long time getting it looking decent, and it made me appreciate his work even more, down to the delicacy of his lines.

Another male head makes an appearance

While watching the 1965 movie on Michelangelo, "The Agony and the Ecstacy" I stumbled across a male portrait that seemed to be at a reasonable difficulty level. This one was by Leonardo Da Vinci, circa 1503.

The strange thing that I'll measure out how the head should be aligned, the center line, and eye placement, but after placing the nose to the best of my measuring abilities it comes out too long, and the eyes a bit off. Knowing some of my weaknesses reminds me to work on them in the future.

Portrait of a Florentine woman

In learning to draw like the great masters I've been going through the huge book I recently got form the library, looking for drawings that seem easy enough, yet use the kinds of techniques I want to learn. Hatching and cross hatching are two of those, and they're used in a portrait Raphael did of a Florentine woman.

I had a hard time with her face for some reason, but the hatching works pretty well in my opinion. A lesson learned when studying the lines was how Raphael curves some of these lines to suggest shape and make things more 3D.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Featured Youtube drawing teacher #1 - "thedrawinghands"

There are tons and tons of drawing resources online. They tend to specialize in a certain topic, such as portraits, manga, birds, or whatever else. I've decided to make a series of posts on the ones that I like, for the betterment of the community.

"thedrawinghands" is the first art teacher I've chosen to showcase on my blog. I've chosen him for no other reason than I stumbled across him when searching for classical approaches to drawing, and that tab was open when I got the idea of making this series of posts.

The main focus of his videos is basically showing how he draws portraits. I enjoy drawing portraits, and I'd like to get better, so I will be watching a bunch of these as time goes by.

His most popular video is a very impressive portrait of Will Smith. Check it out below.

You can find links to his various sections on his website, such as his tutorials.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A free education in art history, part 1 - Michelangelo

At the moment I'm big on the Italian Renaissance artists. In order to sound a little bit more like I know what I'm talking about I'm checking out some documentaries on youtube. I intend on grouping these videos in a separate page, for easy access.

Here's a BBC documentary on Michelangelo.

And here's another one, focusing on the sculpture David.

And here's a third, named The Divine Michelangelo.

All three take a different approach to the subject, and are in my opinion well worth watching.

There's also a movie named The Agony and the Ecstacy, but it's not on Youtube. The trailer, however, is.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A couple of art related movies

Art appreciation is a funny subject. We like what we like, but we're not always able to say why. A curiosity for finding out why people enjoy jazz got me into playing jazz. A curiosity for finding out why people make experimental / avantgarde / noise music got me involved in volunteering for festivals on that very subject. My tastes changed greatly during that time. I may not be listening to noisy free jazz at home, but I have a boner for jazz / rock fusion - in particular when guitars are involved. I like the virtuosity of the harmonies, the melodies, and the improvisation. At first it sounded completely alien and weird, but after knowing a decent chunk of the theory behind it I could appreciate it a lot more.

Looking at art my tastes are in comparison basic. I'm starting to appreciate a wider spectrum of art, but I think the reason why I'm focusing on drawing people with photo-realism as a goal is that it's easy to judge more or less objectively. We can quite easily spot if proportions are off (which they sometimes are in my case) or if the tone looks weird. When it comes to more or less "modern" art I'm still in many cases not getting it. I can't get much of an emotional response from many of the paintings that are sold for rather large amounts of money. This brings me to the first recommendation, which is a movie called My Kid Could Paint That.

For me I'd take a Renaissance style drawing any day. I like art that doesn't look like a kid could have made it. Why should you care about what some art newbie thinks about modern art? Well maybe you shouldn't, but check out the movie and tell me what you think.

The next movie is called Exit Through The Gift Shop. You may or may not have heard of the street artist Banksy, but for years he's been painting clever stencil art all over the world, and eventually opening a gallery. Almost no one knows his identity, but he has inspired a lot of people, such as Dolk here in Bergen.

What I like about Banksy, and some of the followers is the cleverness and humor of many of the ideas. They're not technically difficult like, say, a Renaissance style figure drawing, but it gives me an emotional response. As for something like this?

Not so much.

Thanks to the wonders of Youtube you can watch this movie too, completely for free.

Lenny Breau

For today, my second favorite guitar player of all time - Lenny Breau. Unfortunately he's no longer among us, having been strangled to death after years of drug use, aged 43. His wife was the main suspect, but the case was never solved.

What he left was a legacy of records, in his unique style of playing that has inspired people, and will continue to do so for many years.

As a fingerstyle player he combined a walking bass, with two/three note chords, with a melody or improvisation on top. Sprinkled on top were aspects of his country/flamenco background, as well as his interest in mysticism.

As a music recommendation I've chosen his take on Yesterday. Often when he was performing for young people he would start with jazzy covers of songs they knew, by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, etc, and move towards what they should be listening to.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The best way to learn something

Now that's a topic that's hard to properly summarize in one blog post.

A few years ago I decided that in order to become are more well-rounded person I'd make an honest effort to learn skills that I was bad at, and which I was insecure about. Having been a computer science stereotype for a long time I realized that my social skills were sub-par, and that I'd be a happier person if I ditched World of Warcraft and got some new hobbies.

At that point I made a short list of things that needed work; my physique, my very limited cooking skills, fear of dancing, and fear of singing.

Using the forums I ventured into the then very new section on exercise and fashion - two activities I'd put very far down on my priority list previously. The good thing about those forums is that you often get advice that works, without the fluff you find just about anywhere else. The next couple of years were spent at the gym, at home eating and researching just about any topic related to exercise (including many, many journals). I would set up elaborate spreadsheets tracking statistics related to the main exercises I wanted to improve in (squat, deadlift, benchpress, military press, etc), as well as measurements of the chest, arm, forearm, neck, calf, waist and so on.

The result were quick. I got bigger, stronger and more confident quickly, and while some injuries forced me to stop for a long time the knowledge remains. Lessons learned? taking the nerdy, obsessive approach can be a great source of motivation - not for everyone, but for me it was. Second lesson was that joining a community of like-minded is also important.

The next example is cooking. Before becoming a food nerd I would eat the kind of crap you would expect a junior in college to eat, but one day I started missing homemade bread. I had observed my mom making it on many occasions, and figured it couldn't be that hard. A phone call and a few hours later and my first loaf of bread was done. But how about sweet buns, cinnamon rolls, or making a homemade pizza? Suddenly I had another spreadsheet full of dishes I wanted to make. Having been heavily into photography I also realized that I could combine the hobbies by making things that not only taste good, but also look good.

I started posting photos on and later also on (which has many more recent photos)

During this time I got to thinking, how are chefs taught in school? What are the fundamental skills that they spend time perfecting? How can I learn these skills without going back to high-school? Once again books helped to form a picture of what I needed, as well as online courseware for culinary schools. And while I'm certainly no professional chef now I have a very well-rounded knowledge of ingredients, knife skills, and the cuisine in France, Italy and the US in particular.

Lesson learned? Figure out how professionals are trained, and emulate the process, having people teach if possible.

I could tell a similar story about learning to play instruments, but I will skip to the lesson learned, which is simply that for some skills there are no other way to learn them than by putting in lots, and lots, and lots of hours. Teachers provide many shortcuts, and that's what I do for my students, but unless you're born with a gift you're in for plenty of time "in the shed".

It's very rare for someone like Jimmy Rosenberg to come along, but he's the exception.

So finally, this brings me to drawing. If you've been paying a little bit of attention to my previous posts then you may've seen that I've been getting quite a few books from the library. Many of these are done by very talented artists, but what many of them have in common is the lack of depth. They touch on many subjects, and I've clearly learned a lot by reading them, but at least for me I'm left wanting more, and not knowing exactly what's missing compared to some kind of art school.

Considering the rate at which I'm progressing I think I'm on the right track, but there has to be basics that I'm not getting, as well as the lack of constructive criticism.

Therefore, my current plan as of 15:00 on July 7th is:
  • To finish up the instructional books I've got.
  • To study the great masters more in-depth, and try to pick up some of their techniques.
  • To draw more people in real-life.
  • To find people who are better than me online ( and offline and soak up as much as I can.
  • And finally, to consider Glenn Vilppu's courses on drawing, which seem to be considered the best.
But for now I've got a drawing to get started on, oh and maybe eat something.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bill Evans

As promised, here's one of Bill Evans, probably my favorite jazz pianist.

I went with this one partly because of the drapes in his sweater, which is something I haven't had to deal with before. I think I did okay, but it took longer than expected.

My fancy new moldable eraser was a big help too. I still use the normal one for most tasks, but for adding highlights and making dark stuff a tad lighter there's absolutely no comparison.

I'm sticking with black and white, and as few "tools" as possible for now, but this was probably the best 9 kr (~$1.5) I've spent in a while.


And how could I forget the music recommendation?

Hanging out downtown

A little bit more about me; I live in the city of Bergen, Norway. You should hopefully be able to see it on a map if you click on location. It's on the west side of Norway, and it's one of my favorite cities - not that big, but with plenty of awesome nature nearby.

Yesterday we had some really awesome weather, so I figured I'd get exercise, work on my tan, AND save money and CO2 by walking downtown (~6 km / ~3.7 miles). First priority was handing back in three drawing books that I'd more or less finished, and check out one of the hobby / drawing shops that I'd heard of. Well at the library I picked up "Advanced Drawing Skills", by Barrington Barber, "Draw Faces & Expressions" by John Raynes, "The Figure Drawing Workbook", by John Raynes, and "Tegning - de store mesterne" (Drawing - the great masters). The last one I stumbled across in a section of the library that I hadn't been to. It weighs something like 5 kg / 10 lbs, and getting it home was annoying, but I'm sure I'll get a lot out of it.

With the first stop done I went off to the drawing shop. Having finished a few "intro to drawing"-type books I now have a good overview of the types of drawing tools and paper types that are available. Actually getting to see them and play around with them was fun. I'm sure I'll be a regular customer, but for now I picked up some medium thickness charcoal sticks, and a moldable eraser.

Third stop? Ice cream. I'm Norwegian - I get hot easily.

Fourth stop? Sitting down by the Grieg Concert Hall, which is right across the street from the grocery shop. Since I've now started bringing along a sketchbook as often as I can I got to playing around with the new toys. The doodles aren't worth posting, but I really like the amount of contrast I'm able to lay down quickly, and how I can subtract tone accurately and quickly using the moldable eraser. This will definitely be used to sketching people in the near future.

Pretty sure I will be drawing more around here. It would be a great exercise in perspective and vanishing points. At this point however I'm more into drawing people.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My favorite bassist

As promised, here's my attempt at drawing Jaco Pastorius, probably the most inspirational electric bass player of all time.

The music suggestion this time is Weather Report - Teen Town. Jaco played in a few bands, but the most famous was the fusion super group below.

Unfortunately Jaco died in the late 80s, having been beaten to death by by a bouncer. At this point he was a very heavy drug user, but kept doing concerts almost until the very end.

Tone Damli Aaberge's kinda weird looking cousin, and two jazz giants

I'm realizing that in order to improve I need to draw portraits from a variety of angles, with a variety of expressions. As much as I like drawing good-looking girls it's just as much fun drawing people with quirks.

In this instance I went for Tone Damli Aaberge. The photo I went by had a somewhat unusual angle, making her face look slightly odd. I went overboard by accident, so she looks more than slightly odd.

However, if you're a heterosexual male I recommend checking out her latest music video.

(You can mute the audio if you want to)

Next I chose an iconic photo of Miles Davis.

This one I'm actually pretty happy with. It made me want to get some charcoal gear, but that's for later. Still, this might be the first portrait where I clearly recognize who it is.

And if you're a human being I recommend checking out this one

(No muting allowed)

Finally there's John Coltrane.

Also decently happy with this one. I don't really have anyone offering critique or suggestions, but I know what I like, and I dislike my drawings less and less.

The obvious music suggestion for Coltrane would be Giant Steps, a song I guess I'll never finish learning, but today I'm in more of a Kind of Blue kind of mood.

Plans for the next update? At the moment I'm enjoying drawing some of my jazz heroes, so I'll give Jaco Pastorius and Bill Evans a go.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Jessica Alba's decent looking cousin?

The last significant part of "Drawing on the right side of the brain" deals with face front portraits. A month ago any attempt I would have done would have looked close to infantile. Well I was thinking about who to draw for a decently long time and ended up with Jessica Alba.

Now it doesn't really look like her, but still like someone I'd like to get to know. Slowly getting more comfortable with eyes, hair and the occasional nose. Lips - not so much.

The shape of the skull and jaw are also sticking points, and I suspect those are the reasons why it doesn't look that much like Jessica Alba. If anything I'm getting better at noticing my own mistakes while I'm making them, when they're far easier to fix.

Next will probably be Norwegian celebrity babe / artist Tone Damli Aaberge.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Half-profile portraits

The portrait quest continues, and instead of profile portraits I'm now doing half-portraits, which are harder to measure. You create a line in the middle of the face, set up another to line up the eyes, and then start doing the contours, nose, hair, and so on.

I googled "half-profile portrait" or something like that and found YARIG (yet another random Internet girl) and got to drawing. The mouth, hair and nose are still tough, but it's great when I get something that I'm happy with. Somehow within just a few seconds the expression goes from looking dumb as a rock to something sort of, kind of realistic looking.