hand sketch

Posted in OCA, Start Drawing Course on April 19, 2013 by jojohnston11

Following my tutor’s advice, I aim to draw the figure or part of a figure every day. I will try and vary my approach to this as much as possible. Yesterday, I drew my hand, simply in pencil on a piece of plain index card that I had to hand. 


quick thumb sketches

Posted in OCA, Start Drawing Course on April 16, 2013 by jojohnston11

I’ve been continuing my efforts of drawing people on public transport, during my trips around the city. It’s quite addictive, and at the moment I am attempting to draw people in my peripheral vision, so Its more discreet. By accident, I found using a thicker but transparent line using the Brushes app on my phone, I could get down the basic essentials and proportions of the figures. When the brad strokes overlap they darken giving a bit of form, but are essentially silhouettes. I really enjoy working like this and seeing how much information I can get down with as few lines/strokes as possible. The same effect can be achieved with the side edge of a stick of charcoal and now the weather is warming up I may try this in the park.






Posted in OCA, Start Drawing Course on April 16, 2013 by jojohnston11








Above are my first 2 minute drawings. The first three are of my children, with the first being with a fine liner, and the second two with pencil on paper. I am fairly happy with the first drawing, but not with the second two, as the legs are too short! The fourth drawing is of someone on a bus. I had begun the drawing with pen on paper but got lots of suspicious looks, so I resorted to drawing with my finger on my phone using the drawing app “Brushes” (also famously used by David Hockney). This proved less “suspicious”!! The bus was bumpy but loosened the drawing up. It has a similar look to the fine liner drawing. The proportions are not perfect, though with the girl’s torso a little too short, resulting in her legs looking a little too long. The fifth and sixth drawings were also done on my phone, this time with a thicker line, and on the ubahn. Very quick drawings again. I like the way you have to be quick, as people might not be there long, and also, so they don’t notice. I plan to do this as often as I can now, and hope that the drawings improve. I often begin but the people leave the train/bus, so I am trying to train my visual memory to help finish them.

10 minute poses:

These were done in charcoal of a friend’s daughter. The first one is a little too tentative, so I tried to be more bold in the second drawing, which is more successful.






Assignment 3 – final piece

Posted in OCA, Start Drawing Course on March 24, 2013 by jojohnston11

Here is my finished drawing for assignment 3:




Assignment 3 continued…

Posted in OCA, Start Drawing Course on March 24, 2013 by jojohnston11

This is the weekend I will get my assignment finished! I’m sticking to my plan and I’m not going to get distracted into choosing a new view to draw. The trouble is, I don’t feel as enthusiastic as I did when doing my preparatory sketches! If I change direction now, I’ll spend all weekend doing new preparatory studies and not getting the assignment done! It’s “assignment phobia”…its happened before!

I’ve scaled up my drawing using a grid, established the horizon and vanishing point, and begun to put in some detail. I had visions of making this an exciting drawing, but as I’ve gone on the technical side of getting the perspective right has taken over and it has ended up looking insipid! I will go with this, for want of an alternative, and think of this part as the framework for something bolder. It’s going slowly and painfully and requiring lots of short bursts of concentration…particularly the windows!

I’ve hit a brick wall with my drawing. There is a vision in my head of how I want it to look and as is very usual for me, I like my small sketches but translating this into a larger piece results in a stale drawing. I feel completely disheartened and wondering what on earth I am doing attempting this course as I feel such a failure!


above – sketch


above – scaled up first stage of assignment piece

after a long break and some fresh air….

I’ve started playing with a chinese marker pencil. It makes strong black marks but also softer shading. I like the boldness of it, so lay some layout paper over my drawing and use the pencil to trace my drawing but without a ruler, hoping free the drawing up a bit. My original plan was to use coloured pencils to bring colour in, but although I feel I would be in tight control of these, I don’t think it will help take a step away from insipid. After some thought and further “play” with a small but beautiful box of Unison soft pastels, I think I have found my solution.



above top – playing with colours in soft pastel on chosen paper, above below- trial drawing with pastels and china marker

Now I have found my direction… I will use the china marker pencil and soft pastels. This way I can achieve boldness, along with glowing colours that don’t mean I get caught up in too much fine detail. At the same time, I can meet the assignment criteria. I have an ongoing battle with looseness versus detail, somehow thinking if it’s loose then that will be seen as lacking technical ability. I would like the drawing to emit some energy though. The original scene was half in dark shadow and half bathed in golden sunlight with muted winter tones.

Assignment 3 – preparation

Posted in OCA, Start Drawing Course on March 9, 2013 by jojohnston11

In order to find a view that met the assignment requirements I ventured to the top floor of a local shopping centre. The view from my apartment lacks any distance! The shopping centre offered a height which gave a view quite far into the distance, towards one of the very few hills in Berlin (actually formed from World War 2 rubble taken to the outskirts of the city!) The levels of the shopping centre offered the chance for higher and lower perspectives. I could use aerial perspective, linear perspective. There were trees and buildings, sky so it ticked all the boxes for the assignment. The biggest challenge was the bare trees, that in places obscured and confused the view. I would have to make choices about which trees to include, and whether they added a soft, lacy contrast to the solidity and hard lines of the buildings. I began with relatively quick thumbnail sketches using a chunky marker pen (I really enjoy using this, feeling relaxed in it’s looseness).



At first I like the strong perspective of the view shown in the drawings above and below. I tried it in both landscape and portrait formats but it felt too tunnel like, too obvious somehow.





The drawing below is from a lower floor of the shopping centre with long windows, allowing the viewer a glimpse of the view outside. I like thid but for the assignment didn’t feel it allowed me to demonstrate enough perspective!



Below, is a view from the top of the building but in a different direction. I really like this view as it had everything requested in the assignment, and is dynamic with the pathways crossing and the curves in the foreground, softening the composition. I am not happy with the base of the window art the bottom being simply a broad band of nothingness. I am not convinced it adds to the picture and  can be reduced or eliminated.



In this drawing I cropped the above view to allow more detail to be depicted. As yet I am undecided as to whether my final piece will be a detailed drawing or a more expressive one. The trouble is, that as soon as I start delineating the perspective the I naturally progress towards detail. I may begin with a basic framework and try working loosely over this. Alternatively I am considering a more linear drawing in ink, but have to decide how or if this will include colour.



Below is a pencil drawing of the cropped view above. The trees are bothering me and I might have to leave out a few, although I haven’t included them all anyway, as so many were obscuring the buildings.



Here is a colour sketch of the uncropped view.


Drawing statues / check and log

Posted in OCA, Start Drawing Course with tags , , , on February 26, 2013 by jojohnston11

The weather still isn’t great….still cold, still grey! I felt well enough to venture to the park on my bike in search of statues to QUICKLY sketch. I managed two … then had to retreat to the warmth! I had originally planned the warmth of a museum but would have to travel across the city, pay to get in and then would be under pressure to produce something substantial and probably leave dissatisfied! So, the cold park it was and below are my two speedy sketches. the first in black conte crayon, and the second with grey marker pen. I really enjoyed this and feel it would be a good habit to get into, and I can also see how they could become useful resources for other work. Although these drawings are far from perfect, I think there are elements I am pleased with…there is a certain expressiveness that I feel I could draw on in the future (pun not intended!). The woman’s head in the first drawing, for example.