Posts Tagged ‘Old Master Copies’


How I Became an Alcoholic

September 29, 2018

I have been drawing my whole life, but I’ve never been very comfortable using color, so I avoided it and secretly felt some shame that I was supposedly an artist but couldn’t paint.

In the rare instances when I did use color, I usually went with colored pencil or water-based Tombow markers. I enjoy working in both of those mediums, but I’ve never been totally satisfied with the results. The markers don’t blend well, and I can’t get much vibrance out of colored pencils.

Then one day last year I bought a small set of alcohol-based markers. I wasn’t really paying attention and kinda bought them by accident. To be honest I didn’t know the difference between alcohol and water-based markers. But I used those markers to make some photo-booth props for a party I was helping to plan, and I was thrilled with the results. They blended so well, and the colors really popped.

Photobooth mouths

I had long been toying with the idea of doing big head caricatures of old master portraits, and these rad new markers seemed like the perfect medium.

Right around that same time the Phoenix Art Museum opened a new exhibition called the Schorr Collection which had a bunch of old master portraits. So I did some pencil sketches of a portrait on location at the museum, and then went home, very excited to complete it in ink and color.

My set of alcohol markers only had six colors, so I attempted to add in some of my Tombow markers in order to have a wider palette. And that’s when I learned that water-based markers and alcohol markers do not mix…


My first attempt at an old master caricature was a total bust.

I returned to the store with the intention of buying four or five more colors to add to the mix, but ended up buying eighteen!

18 new markers

Then I went back to the museum, did more sketches of portraits, brought them home and markered the s#¿+ out of them.


I was really pleased with how some of them turned out.


Others not so much.


But I watched some tutorials online and learned some tricks on how to use alcohol markers.


It was by far the most success I’d ever had using color. Whenever I completed one I  felt excited to do another.


I lost my photos of the original portraits on these two. 😦


After I’d done a bunch of these things I decided to take another shot at that first Lorenzo Lotto portrait using my newly acquired skills. Here are some WIP pics…


I was much happier with the result this time around.


And when comparing it to my first attempt I could really see the progress that I had made. It felt good. This was the biggest leap forward I had taken with my art in years. All because of alcohol markers.

I hate to admit that I had to buy myself some new toys in order to become a better artist, but that is kinda what happened.

Here’s a before and after to show how much difference a few weeks of practice (and 18 more markers) can make. 🙂



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.