Archive for the ‘Gray Sketchook’ Category



September 7, 2016

I love drawing statues and sculptures. Mostly because of the obvious reason: they don’t move. But I also love the challenge of trying to make them actually look like a statue. I rarely succeed at this challenge. Correction: I never succeed at this challenge. Every time I try to draw a sculpture of a person, it just ends up looking like a person, not a sculpture of one.

Here is one of those times when I failed. This is a drawing of a bronze sculpture at the Phoenix Art Museum. The PAM is one of my favorite places to take my sketchbook. The special exhibits are great, but the permanent collection is where I like to draw. And even though I been in there a million times, I always seem to find something that I never appreciated before. That’s what happened with this sculpture – Apache by Malvina Hoffman.

I went to the museum last spring with my husband Richard and my friend Laurie to see the Michelangelo exhibit. Afterwards we headed over to the permanent collection, and they wandered off while I sketched. I had just finished drawing this other sculpture which came out okay-ish, when Richard and Laurie came back and said they found something they thought I would love. Then they led me over to Apache.

They were right. I probably spent about an hour on this one. Maybe more, maybe less. I really don’t know, because it was one of those magical times when you lose all sense of time and place and just get lost in the thing you’re creating. It was almost like going underwater. Everything outside of me, the statue, and my sketchbook became blurry and muffled.

Apache PAM

When I finished it was like coming up for air. I remember looking around and thinking “Oh look, it’s the real world.” Then I looked at my drawing, as if for the first time, and thought “Oh hey, that’s really good.”

Or at least, really good for me. And that’s all I care about anymore. Doing the best drawing that I can do. Not trying to compare myself to other artist and then hate myself when I fall short.

My drawing still doesn’t look like a sculpture, but I like how the expression on his face came out. It’s actually a little different from the one on the OP*. I think my guy has a more suspicious look on his face than Malvina Hoffman’s does. He kinda looks like he’s giving someone the side eye. I guess it’s because of that dark line that goes up the slope of his nose and into his eyebrow.

I found Richard and Laurie in the museum cafe and showed them my drawing. They seemed genuinely impressed, which made me happy. Then they let me eat their leftover omelettes, which made me REALLY happy.

When we went on this museum visit I was in the middle of a very long period of creative frustration. Actually more like despair. A big writing project that I was (and still am) working on was not coming together, despite months (okay, years) of work that I’d been putting into it. And because of it, a low level bummer cloud had been hovering over my head for a while. Spending a few hours at the museum, hanging with two wonderful people, seeing lots of great art, and creating something myself–something that–

A) I was happy with


B) was actually complete

…was surprisingly soul-filling. It really lifted spirits that day. I think that’s why I love this drawing so much. Whenever I look at it, I am reminded of a really happy day in the middle of a pretty tough time.

Also, I just love using black and white conte on grey-toned paper. I really should do that more.


*OP – Original Piece



January 28, 2013

With that Lincoln movie up for an Oscar this year, it got me thinking about all the sketches I’ve done of Lincoln over the years. He was kind of an odd looking guy with that long gaunt face and weird beard, which makes him very fun to draw.  Lucky for me, there seems to be more statues of him around than anyone else in history. So whenever I come across one, I sketch it.

bust of lincoln

Disneyland art gallery, 2011

Rushmore 2

Mount Rushmore, 2003



Abe Mem 1

Lincoln Memorial, 2009


Abe Mem 2

Lincoln Memorial, 2nd attempt, 2009

Mount Rushmore, 2012

abe statue

A park in Portland, 2004

Great Moments with Abe

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Disneyland, 2012 (I did this one in the dark)


A Little Behind In My Processing

March 22, 2012

This is my first blog post in several months, and I can’t believe how easily it slipped away from me. I am still sketching all the time, but I have a difficult time finding the patience to scan and post them.

When I was taking photography in college and we learned about this one famous photographer who was constantly taking pictures, like he would go to a party and take seven rolls of film. He basically lived life through the viewfinder of his camera. But he wasn’t nearly so productive when it came time to develop the film and make prints. Whenever his friends asked how his photography was going he would joke “I’m a little behind in my processing.” When he died they found hundreds of rolls of film that had yet to be made into prints, and hundreds more that hadn’t even been developed.

So that’s me. I’m still out there making sketches. Just not doing anything with them. I have drawings that I’ve been meaning to post for months.

Here are a couple of old master copies that I did one Sunday morning in January when I probably should have been doing something else.

Portrait of an old man, late 15th century by Francesco Bonsignori. My guy came out a little more friendly-looking than Mr. Bonsignori’s.

And here is a Woman’s head, by Rubens…

Both are conte on toned paper.

I enjoy the meditative state I go into while doing old master copies. It’s not the most creative activity, since you are just copying another drawing, but it’s a nice way to get some marks on the paper when you are not in the mood to do any thinking.


Ideal Conditions

July 30, 2011

These are drawings of old master paintings that I did while visiting art museums. Every once in a while the stars will align to put the following conditions in place:

1) Carrie has enough patience to stand still for a while.

2) The museum allows drawing.

3) No guards around to hassle Carrie.

4) No curious onlookers around to hassle Carrie.

The result = a pretty decent drawing. Conte crayon on gray paper.


A couple of gestures

July 2, 2011

Gesture drawings seem to come out better on the gray paper.


Drummers in Portland

June 16, 2011

I was in a square in Portland sketching this statue of Abe Lincoln when these drummer guys came up to me and looked at the drawing and told me a little background about the statue. They said that it was done towards the end of the Civil War when all the stress and pressure of the war and his personal life really started to show. In the statue you could see that he was more haggard and worn down than in most depictions of him.

Later on I did a quick gesture sketch of the drummer guy.



June 8, 2011

After I graduated college I volunteered for a couple years at the Foundation for Blind Children. I helped out in a classroom of toddlers. Mostly I would just play with them and sing and rock them in a swing. One time I went on a field trip with them to a farm.

All the kids had visual impairments as well as other physical limitations, so most of them were in those full body wheelchair things. It was common for some of the kids to have short seizures during the day. You would think it would be depressing, but I really enjoyed volunteering there, and the kids were sweet.

This girl’s name was Yom and she was from a big family that had recently moved here from another country. She was a beautiful little girl.