Archive for the ‘Objects’ 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


Golf Hats, Monks, and Grey Undies

July 4, 2014

Here are a couple more drawings of Richard with a big old head. The reason he looks deep in thought here is because he is deep in thought. He is drawing stick figure cartoons in his sketchbook. I would post his cartoons, but they are not family friendly.

That statue of the monk randomly appeared on our dining room table a few days ago and I’ve been wanting to draw it ever since. So I set him up along with the little laughing Buddha figurine, and then made Richard put on that golf hat.

These big head drawings started out as funny little quick sketches and now they are becoming quite the production. I set up a lamp and everything. Richard now insists on setting a timer for one hour because otherwise it takes half the day.

golfhat richard

The monk statue is not nearly is friendly looking as I have made him appear here. I think the laughing buddha is rubbing off on him.

As for this drawing I would just like to say that Richard gave me permission to post it, even though he is only wearing his tighty whiteys. Or rather, his tighty greysies. I’ve taken to doing monochromatic backgrounds because they really make the figure pop. It also takes up less time.

cartoonist richard




Goggles and Naan

February 16, 2014

Here’s a couple more Big Head Richards. I took another shot at him in the steampunk hat because I didn’t like the first one. I think I did a better job on the goggles this time, but I still don’t like them all that much.

I found an opaque white gel pen which I used to add highlights on the lenses. I have to be careful when using the white, because it’s tempting to go nuts and put highlights everywhere, thus diminishing it’s effect.

Streamhead 2

I did this one at Indian Delhi Palace, where we went for Valentine’s Day. I did the initial sketch at the restaurant and then colored it with markers later at home. I had fun drawing his hands on this one.

V-day India

Also, in an attempt not to complicate this drawing with too many different colors, I just splashed the entire background with yellow, and then used a darker yellow to suggest a bit of depth. I like how the red shirt plays against the yellow background, but I wish I had added a bit of shadow to the shirt, cuz it’s looking a little flat compared to the rest.

When Richard saw this one he said, “Wow, that’s really good. It almost looks like someone else did it.” Then he winced and said, “I meant that as a compliment.”


Fourth Annual Tannenbaum

January 4, 2014

Okay so I am a little late, but here is my fourth annual tannenbaum sketch!

xmas tree 2013

(click on the picture for a larger version)

And as long as I am posting Christmas-themed sketches, here is one I did of Richard on Christmas morning.

Santa Hat Richard

Markers and ink.


Lady Liberty Lineup

June 30, 2013

I’ve been to NYC four times, and on each trip I’ve taken a midnight ride on the Staten Island Ferry and sketched the Statue of Liberty. The first time was in 1999 when I had just started carrying a sketchbook. As bad as this sketch looks, it was actually the gem of the trip. All the others I did back then were atrocious. I’ll put them in the next post, just for laughs.



The second one was from a year later. A lot less ink on this page which means I had gained some confidence in my line.



The third trip was in 2005, but I can’t find the Statue of Liberty sketch from that year. I think I may have given it away.

And here is number four, June of 2013. I often use a couple different gray markers as a quick and dirty way to give the effect of a wash. On this occasion the markers were running dry, which is why I didn’t do anything with the background to indicate that it was night.



If I could go back in time I would eliminate or diminish the black outline on that island in the lower left. That line confuses the background and makes me wince every time I look at it. I’m also not so crazy about the “windows” on her podium thing. Not so much because they are misshapen, but because there are no shadows in there, so it makes it look totally empty or something. The reason I didn’t put any shadow in there was because there was actually a bright light coming from inside, but since this drawing doesn’t indicate that it is nighttime, that part looks weird.

Anyway, I guess my point is that even after 14 years of carrying a sketchbook, I still have a lot to learn. I guess I’ll just have to keep going back to NYC.



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)


Christmas Tree Line Up

December 28, 2012

Here is this year’s tannenbaum. This one was done in marker and pen.


And just to see the progression (or regression) here are the last two trees…

xmas tree 20112011 – Colored pencil and ink.

xmas tree2010 – Watercolor and Ink


A VanGoghish Chair

July 14, 2012

Richard and I recently traveled to Buffalo where his aunt and uncle were kind enough to put us up for a few days. I loved the entire town and was particularly struck by houses, which were colorful and historical and so so so different from the rows and rows of cookie cutter houses here in AZ.

(For the record I hate the term cookie cutter houses.)

Anyway, the houses all had a real sense of history. The room we stayed in had this awesome old chair that I became obsessed with drawing.

The reason I was so drawn to it was because it reminded me so much of this painting by Van Gogh.

I’ve been trying to draw more chairs lately, as well as trees and buildings and other non-human things. I have a bad habit of just drawing people all the time, so I’m trying to make myself branch out. The chairs have been quite a challenge because there are so many angles and you really need to get them right or else it will come out pretty wacky looking. Drawing people doesn’t really pose that problem (although it poses many others). Also chairs usually sit still (unlike people) so it forces me to exercise some patience and take time to study the details.


A Few Random Sketches

July 4, 2012

Last year my friends, my husband, and myself took a quick trip to LA for the weekend. We went there specifically to see a couple of art exhibits, yet my best sketch from the whole trip is from this burger joint. That was a damn good burger. If I could go back in time I would have made that burger about four times bigger and really spent some time on the details. But then again, if I had done that it would have gotten cold before I could eat it. There are some sacrifices that I just won’t make for my art.



This is a stuffed dog that my brother won and then gave to me when we were at the Santa Monica Pier back in 2007. Notice I say “won and then gave me”, and not “won for me”. My bro has an addiction when it comes to carnival games. His desire to win stuffed animals borders on obsessive. But when it’s all over he doesn’t really want the poor creatures. In this case I was the lucky recipient of this floppy little dog. Ain’t he cute? We named him Thestral after the creatures from Harry Potter books 5-7.


I did this one at Royal Taj, a little Indian restaurant in Tempe. I guess it’s a teapot or something. It is definitely not a magic lamp because I rubbed it and no genies came out.


Fancy Steps

June 21, 2012

So I recently got to stay in a condo that had this charming little spiral staircase. It was so cool, I could not stop looking at it.

Here is my attempt to draw the staircase. It was quite a challenge with all the angles and things. I made a lot of mistakes. For one thing there were eleven steps but I could only make it work with ten. Also that railing at the top is way too short. Especially in relation to the light fixture on the wall. It took a loooong time to do. Basically all of Sherlock Homes, and about half of Star Trek (the 2010 movie).