Rubric Myself

In teaching, a rubrics, a spreadsheet of grade standards, to help students understand what the goals and standards of learning for their projects.
Artists just do what they like.

In a life drawing marathon I did a couple of pages of brush drawings that sparked the desire to make the process something I could work on not just have it happen by accident.
My old fart drawing often feels like I’m redoing old drawings so determining what I am trying to do with drawing is important.
The point of blogging is to better understand my own work.
So I set up drawing exercises a few weeks for a morning warm-up and have been using them to focus.
What these exercises didn’t have a clear rubric about what I was doing, it was just repeat and improvise based on feel.

Look Ma I can draw!

The first effort was to create a basic pattern to follow for doing stick figures.
In doing them it’s good to keep the lines simplified to arcs and straight lines so you look at the big shapes in 30 seconds.
When you slow down with 2 min drawings, look more closely at the shapes even when simplifying takes longer to focus and condense the lines in your head.

In the beginning 30 seconds of Gesture

I played where to start the drawing because in 30 seconds you need a system to accomplish anything.
I settled on a line to define the shoulders, then torso, two lines for the legs and arms each and then a neckline that becomes a loop for the head.
There becomes a debate do you use the first line to define the bone and structure or all the fat and muscle surrounding it.
One line is a starting point, by using the joints as points in the line with the length of the line you have a way to place the figure in space.

Two minutes then seems like a long time compared to 30 seconds but when you start trying to condense form into one line your brain has to slow down.
Every bump becomes obsessive and ends up looking fixed in space, lazy cheap Matisse lines end up in looking like crappy graphic design drawing.
Any figure on any logo of a healthcare company of any type.
In the end, while I can do a satisfying brush drawing in two minutes I found a line drawing can’t be as rich in the same amount of time

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Making Rules to Break

In teaching figure drawing you want students to understand how to construct a figure.
But in writing assignments for myself I’m exploring how to work the basics and push myself a step forward by defining a task.
2 minute gesture drawings always provide a quick satisfying buzz to do.
They are often just a quick exercise in focus to catch the whole figure, a motion and with the lack of time to see details always present an exciting moment of simplification.

A simple stick figure provides a skeleton for basic figure construction.
A simple stick figure drawing goal is not a final result, but a step to define how the figure translates from three-d space to the flat design on the page.
Translating our real world into flat shapes is the most basic act of drawing.
In my drawing, which is about flat shapes in relationship to each other, what shapes represent, how they define space and move the eye across the page I never really bothered with that “skeleton”.
Most drawing was just based on instinct.

But cartooning is about building shapes into repeatable silhouettes for a character.
I want to use my life drawing as a foundation for this process of building characters, repeatable shapes for abstraction, and develop my comics drawing.
To build this foundation I”ve started doing a set of 30 second drawings from photos.
The perception of three-d space is removed by the camera, but as a warm-up it’s a quick way to practice with figures.

Quickposes takes a folder of images and loop thru them at customizable intervals.
Using Quickposes for a twenty minute session is the closest experience to life drawing when working from photos I’ve found.
The timed appearance of images gives it some of the feel of a session in a class.
There’s two exercises I’m starting with the first is a measured stick figure drawing.

Measured Stick figure 30 Seconds


To define a skeleton in 2-d space that provides the illusion or guide to how it would be structured in 3-d space.
Length and angle of a line will define foreshortening, and gesture.


  1. Take Two long breaths to just look.
  2. Define the line across from shoulder to shoulder joint, this with a line between hip joints defines the torso’s movement.
  3. Do the sides of the torso
  4. Draw an outside line for the arm, check angles and placement of elbow and wrist in relation to the torso.
  5. Add the second arm, looking for where the elbow and wrist are placed in relation to the torso as defining the gesture.
  6. Make sure you have the hips measured out and define the second leg, drawing a line to the knee and then ankle.
  7. Treat the head as a line from shoulder that loops to define the block of it.


  • Do the lines define hips and shoulders?
  • Do the joints measure against each other?
  • Is there a more effective way to place the figure on the page?

Designed Stick Figures 1 Minute


To build a “designed” drawing that works as 2-d design as well as the illusion of a 3-d figure.


  1. In the first 30 seconds do a measured stick figure.
  2. Draw the longest visual line to emphasize the gesture.
  3. Define the torso in relation to the longest line.
  4. Look to repetition or contrast in the shapes that you are drawing.
  5. If drawing with a brush make sure you can clearly define a brush pattern for gesture drawing to work with on the figure(next post)


  • Is there a clear silhouette?
  • Does the figue work as an individual design?
  • Does it have a leading motion or direction to focus the eye?
  • Do I have repeatable shapes?

So now I’m going to spend a week doing 1 minute stick figures with a pen, see what it changes in the way I think about drawing.

The Weeks Warm Up Exercise


To track what happens when you ae mindful and focused on specific tasks


  1. Work from 1 folder of 20 images for 2–3 days.
  2. Measured stick figures for 14 figures
  3. Designed stick figures for 10 figure
  4. Write Evaluation Notes for 5 minutes to track thoughts about drawing

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Teaching Comics to Myself: Fundamentals

Good instruction and good teaching do not provide explanations. They tell you what to do and, to a certain extent, how to do it, and it is through the doing that you discover how the practice works.

Ken Macleod

There are two parts of comics, drawing and storytelling.
But pulling comics apart to understand and develop the work from the foundation is rarely done.
Doing abstract comics takes you closer to the basics of what makes comics a medium and not just illustration.
After doing a month of Abstract Comics for Inktober I found myself wanting to reduce the comics down another step to really understand how panels fit images together.

I recently bought a book on Joseph Albers’ teaching.
Albers is a painter who taught at the Bauhaus and Yale more or less invented the modern educational system for art in the last century.
All first-year color theory and how to learn it by experiencing it is driven by his book The Interaction of Color.
At Parsons School of Design a couple of my first year teachers had studied with him.
These were the ones who cracked my dumb little skull open and poured in a whole new body of knowledge about making pictures.
The made us look at what was actually happening with the lines, shapes and colors put down on the page.
They developed a critical vocabulary for talking about the form of the art and not just what cool things we had drawn.

Alber’s last thirty years of his life was spent painting the Homage to the Square, just color in a series of centered squares.
Color is the most complex part of picture making as it can carry more emotion than almost any other part of a visual.
Each painting is just a set of colors that are carefully mixed and create a different painting each time.
Even if it’s just a set of squares set inside of each other.
These are some of the most magical paintings in the world that suck me in and say look the world is magic held by color.

Exercise: 1 square with background
Goal: Define visual structure in four panels

1.Define a consistent background shape
2. Use one rectangle and define a rhythm of AND,AND, BUT, THERFORE
3.Use scale and placement only
Outcome: 10 drawings write an evaluation

Squares exercise 2

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Walking the Line while Thinking is Hard

In life drawing it’s easy to do “cool” stuff, throw color, ink, or flashy effects at the work and say “I’m drawing”. But for control of your mind going back to a clear line nothing is more challenging. When just line defines the edge of the form you have to see the turning in space of the three dimensional cheekbone and puzzle out how to represent how it interacts with the nose. Without value, light and darkness you look much more closely at edges and shapes.

In the three-quarter view I had one line between the two arms. One line between the left arm and the left breast to catch the way the muscles bones and fat are moved around. I’m trying for understanding the construction of figures from my head and how that relates to life drawing.

In the session two people started talking about construction as in knowing what the body is versus measuring the shapes as you see them and how do you transfer the two as you draw.

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