Taming the Teacup

Originally published http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique/?p=147

The hardest part about learning to draw is learning to see.   Even though I used the lines of the towel to help me,  My own learned perceptions still came into play. I drew the plate bigger and rounder than it is.

Layers of teacups

On the other hand, I drew the open part of the cup as much more of an ellipse.

In this image I have used a graphics program to layer the two images together. I find that this can be helpful in helping me “see” what is off.

This comparison also shows the difference in color. Yes, I am drawing a white teacup, but only a few highlight spots are actually white.

Most of the photograph is in the mid tones, neither dark nor light. What I have drawing is mostly darks and highlights.

Usually when I point things like this out, the first words I hear are “Don’t be so critical, your art work looks great.”

Being critical is how we learn.  The important thing to avoid is being a critic of my own work.  Each thing I said about has an easy and specific fix.

It is all too easy to look at problems with our own art work and become a critic.  “I suck at drawing. I can’t draw teacups.”  Those are the thoughts to avoid, as there is not a specifc fix for either.

They are just negative and completely without merit.  By focusing on what you can do to improve, it allows you to see what needs fixing and usually how to fix it.

There is not a quick and easy answer, the only way to improve the way we see things and get them down on paper is practice. Different Instructors will suggest different ways, but there is not a right way and a wrong way. It is a matter of what works for you.




Sketch, study or masterpiece?


Why do I leave the rings of the sketchbook in the image, wouldn’t it look better without them?

I leave the rings because it is a sketchbook image.  There is an important difference between work done in a sketchbook as a learning exercise and work that is meant to be finished drawing from the start.

There is also a point where you have to decide if you are going to keep working on it until is  is a finished drawing, or take what you have learned from it and move on.

This sketch has some flaws that it would be more productive to start over rather than fix.

The hats for one.  I also do not like that the back figure is so muted and in the shadow, She is that way in the original image, but this is art. I can move her and make her more prominent.

And speaking of shadows. Yes, the shadows do appear to be going in two different directions,  One is a reflection, and one a shadow, yet they both look like shadows in the drawing.  That was the point at which I decided to put it aside and think about how to address that issue.  I am fairly certain that I want to make this into a painting, but  before I jump into the painting I need to do some more studies.

This image, “Introduction” is part of a series of sketches and drawings that are part of a 100 theme challenge on DeviantART.

As I am the little girl in the foreground of the original image, I am not sure who took the photo. It was most likely my Dad or Grandfather.

Rennata Monnie Gretta in ocean

The Hearts have it.

Two new small works. Ink and watercolor. Both of them are the Artist Trading card size of 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. ATC024 ATC025 

These two were part of a theme exercise on ATCs for All as part of the Zentangle with a Twist Group. They have ended up as part of a small art show

“Passions” at Creative Corner’s Art Gallery, Gallery 24

Hands on Drawing!

Last night we painted and drew the new year in, It was so much fun.

My daughter was struggling with drawing hands. She asked how do I learn to draw hands.

I knew the answer of practice was not going to go over well,  so I broke it down a bit more into how to practice drawing hands.

I took a series of photos of the girls hands.

DSC01650 hands1

The particular one that she wanted to use I also used a graphics program to break it down into 7 different colors so that you can easily see where the highlights and shadows are.

I have shown them how to use a clear triangle from a math set to see the angles.

I have highlighted some of the ones that I find are key to getting the hand to look like a hand.


Notice that although the hand is wrapped around the handle of the spoon, the line of the knuckles is slightly different due to the varying lengths of the bones in the hand.  When I am sketching hands as part of a figure, I will look to when there is a bent angle on the hand. In this case the red line along the top on the hand is the one I would focus on, as it tells the most about the position of the hand.  I see a lot of drawing books that spend a great deal of  time on getting the angles of the center line of the arm correct, leave the hands as a circle or oval that magically gets filled in with the instructions of  something like draw in the details of the hands.   I look for where the highlights and shadows are first, because they help me get a feel for the hand as a three dimensional object with areas of highlights, mid tones and shadows, and then at the angles of the lines that the outside edges form.

Some pictures for practice of drawing hands.

DSC01644 DSC01647

DSC01649 DSC01653

DSC01651 DSC01652 DSC01654 DSC01655

Drawing and Critique

Darlene Duncan made a comment on my blog yesterday that I loved.

“A comment without explanation does not help towards understanding or improvement.”

The goal of a critique should be to move towards improvement through understanding, that is what makes it different from a criticism.

I tell people all the time that there is not a wrong way to create, you should just start and do it.  It occurred to me that this comment might seem in direct conflict with the idea of critique, and might be in need of further explanation.

Improvement is a subjective standard.  When critiquing your artwork, it is important to understand the goal or ideal that you have in mind.  Do you want to be the next Rembrandt or the next Picasso, or maybe the next Arina Tanemura.  How you would improve when working towards those goals is vastly different. When I say that there is not a wrong way to create, what I mean is that all styles are valid.

So if I want to improve my drawing, How do I go about doing that?

eyes2 eyes4

Both of these eyes were drawn from the same source.


Each of us translated the same image into what was important to us. Yet on each of them there is something that differs from the original.  I learned that Anime eyes are often open edged,  that the pupils are even larger than I thought and high lights do have a hard edge.

I have spent years working on making highlights without hard edges, so  I did not notice that it has one, and I can say that I would choose to put one.

So if what I mean by improving is to make the eye more in an anime style, the biggest changes I would make would be in the overall shape of the eye.


What I had sketched in as the whole eyeball is close to the size of the pupil, but taller and narrower, while the eyelid slants down more.  By taking the time to look at what I had drawn in comparison to what I was working from, I gained an understanding of  how and why mine differed from the original.  Once I have that understanding, I can choose to either make mine more like the original or just draw eyes in my own way.

None of this changes the fact that I was happy with my original eye, and the fact that my eye was different from the one I was working from does not mean my eye was wrong.

I still maintain that the best way to learn to draw is by picking up something that makes marks, and using it to make marks. and enjoy the process because it is not a matter or right and wrong, it is a matter of learning and understanding. The learning and understanding will lead to improvement.