Tine McCormick
I figure that drawing a self-portrait on a semi-regular basis is going to be a good way to gauge my progress as an artist. I sat down in front of the mirror today, and did my second self portrait. If you recall, here was the original self portrait I posted a few weeks ago:

And here, my friends, is the one that I did today:

Some definite improvements! It looks much more realistic, and less "cartoonish", and my proportions have definitely gotten better. No more humongous eyes and weird bulbous nose. 

I'm proud of my improvement, and figure this will be a great scale along which to measure my progress.

Tine McCormick
Back in college, I had an awesome ecology professor. Meg Lowman was very enthusiastic about... well, everything. Of all things, she was particularly interested in the subject of invasive species---- animals that find their ways into habitats that they don't belong in, usually with the help of humans. Florida has a major invasive species issue. There are tons of reptiles living all over Florida that were introduced by irresponsible or uneducated pet owners who released their turtles and snakes into the wild, rather than finding them new homes. These invasive herpetological species are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem in south Florida, hunting and displacing native species.

Anyways, the whole point of this back story it to explain that one time, I went to this crazy dinner party at Professor Lowman's house, and got to meet this gentleman who works to trap these crazy creatures, and find them new homes. 

That evening I made friends with snakes, iguanas, tortoises, and more. I got to hold with this 7-foot python:

And swim with this 18-foot python:

But my favorite creature that I met that night was this tortoise, an African land tortoise that was found roaming around a Walmart parking lot. 

I took quite a few pictures, and have recently decided to draw and paint using some of these photos as reference. I painted a watercolor rendition of the shell, and am currently working on a graphite drawing based on the one shows above, and thought that I would share them here.

The watercolor came out okay, but I really could have improved some of the shading to give it some more depth. I've had quite a few people think that it was an impressionist painting of an umbrella. Ooops.

My drawing is coming out quite a bit better than my painting.

I haven't made it too far, but I like it overall. I will continue to plod away, and update with some progress pics.

Tine McCormick
It was a long week, but I managed to squeeze in just a bit of drawing practice. I drew this with a mix of graphite and colored pencil, using a black-and-white reference photo, which I may have managed to misplace. 

Parts of it came out very well (shading on the abdomen is wonderful), but the chest, arms, and neck lack a special artistic ooomphf. Definitely an improvement over some of my previous work though.

Tine McCormick
I'm an experienced painter. Not a great painter, but experienced. I've always stuck mostly to acrylic, with a tiny bit of watercolor, but I finally decided to try my hand at oil painting. Yikes! 

Turns out it's pretty much super difficult. I made a mistake though. Instead of starting out with brushes, I jumped right into painting with pallet knives. It's not altogether awful, but i definitely have plenty left to learn. It was very difficult to keep my colors from muddying up together---- purple and yellow definitely don't play nicely together. 

Lesson learned, and I shall try again another day!

Tine McCormick
So since I've been drawing, I've managed to collect a wide variety of materials which seem to collect on every shelf and in every drawer of my office. I think it will be helpful to share the materials that I use most often in my drawing, which consists mostly of charcoal, pen, and graphite, along with various erasers, tortillons, and sharpeners.

I keep all of my tools (fairly) organized in this little compartmentalized container I snagged at Goodwill for $1.99. It has another compartment along the bottom in which I store a couple of teeny sketchbooks, and the majority of my drawing tools are kept in the top compartment. So what exactly is in this box of goodies?

Pencils. Lots, and lots of pencils. Pencils come in a wide variety of "grades", which pretty much describes how hard the graphite is. The softer the graphite, the darker the mark. Hard graphite can be pretty stiff, and gentle pressure will leave almost no mark at all. I tend to prefer a very soft pencil, around a 5B (the "B" refers to soft graphite. The bigger the number, the softer the graphite. Pencils can also be graded as "H", which refers to hard graphite, or as "HB", which is somewhere in between the soft and hard graphites. I will occasionally use a 5H pencil, which is pretty hard, to draw soft, fine lines when first sketching out a drawing).

What are those weird looking sticks, you ask? Pure chunks of graphite. I use them to apply "tone" my paper, or give them an all-over grey color, which makes it easy to erase bright white highlights when I am drawing. I also like to occasionally use a standard #2 pencil, and a mechanical pencil for fine details.

I'm not wildly-crazy about messy sticks of compressed charcoal, but I am a fan of these charcoal pencils. Made from wood burned in low-oxygen conditions, charcoal can leave dark, black marks on paper. I use two kinds---- vine, and compressed. Vine charcoal is very soft and brittle, and leaves a mark that can be easily brushed away. Again, I use this to tone my paper. The pencils contain harder compressed charcoal, which I used to draw the majority of my charcoal sketches with.

Though I don't use them often, I also have several fine-tipped micron pens of varying widths that I use for line art. They don't smudge when erased, so I can trace over pencil outlines and then erase everything but the pen, leaving crisp, clear lines. 

Speaking of erasing....

.... I do quite a bit of that too. I have a wide variety of erasers--- plastic, gum, and kneaded. The plastic erasers are pretty standard, but kneaded erasers are pretty cool. They can be used to "lift" graphite off of the paper without completely erasing, which is perfect for attaining varying shades of gray, or adding natural looking highlights. 

Those cardboard tubes are called "tortillons", and are used to blend graphite. It will blend dark marks into light ones to result in a smooth gradient. I use the Q-Tips for pretty much the same thing. 

.... Oh. I forgot. My favorite little toy. My Sakura Electric Eraser. 

It's a fancy little gadget that's perfect for erasing detailed areas without accidentally smudging the rest of your drawing. It has a tiny replaceable eraser tips that spins at high speed to erase without having to rub back and forth. I used it to pull out the highlights in this picture:

So yeah, that's it basically. I have plenty of paints, pastels, brushes, markers, crayons, and colored pencils, but these are my go-to tools when it comes to drawing a sketching. 

Tine McCormick
I completed my Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain book, and decided to move on to a more classical approach for learning to draw. I got this book in the mail the other day, and decided to work my way through it.

I attempted to follow the lesson on using lines of motion or action to flesh out a composition. I chose a sketch from Michelangelo's studies to practice with, and came up with the following sketch.

I got the general shape and pose, but fell short on fleshing out the details. My drawing lacks significant muscle tone compared to the original, but overall, I'm happy with my take on the subject.

Tine McCormick
This was a rough pencil drawing I did working on using light and dark to create form. I still made the mistake of using ugly lines to flesh out the general shape of the face, but I am pleased with the way the facial detales came out, particularly the eyelids, underside of the nose, and beneath the lip.

I went back and added more details to finish it up after taking this photo, but it didn't change much--- just added some highlights to the forehead and increased the shading under the jawline.